Today at the International Journalism Festival 2013 in Italy, there was a panel entitled ‘Media treatment of the LGBT Community’. Whilst I was sadly unable to attend and, as yet, no audio is available of the full panel discussion, I followed the debate on Twitter. A selection of the tweets are collected here on Storify.
I was interested to learn that Pink News was founded in response to the perceived failings of existing media outlets in covering LGBT stories; in particular, Benjamin Cohen is reported as describing representations of LGBT people in the news as ‘highly sexualised’.
I’ve been reading through mainstream UK news sites in the past few weeks as I begin to review the representations of queer families that are available in this media but I haven’t noticed a large number of highly sexualised representations. I have, however, noticed a great deal of debate on the well-being of children who are either raised by, or in contact with, LGBTQ identified adults.
This is, seemingly, an international concern. Just this week, The Boy Scouts of America ended their ban on gay-identified boys joining the organisation but retained the ban on gay-identified adults participating, whilst the French marriage equality (and associated adoption rights) campaign was passionately argued on both sides, but most often concerned ‘who will be parents?‘ It’s not all unfounded prejudice though, in 2012 children’s charity Bernado’s Chief Executive argued that the only thing children needed was a loving home; she firmly stated that LGBTQ identification has no bearing on that most fundamental parenting qualification.
Along with Pink News (and the Huffington Post, source of the above statement from Bernados and a feature celebrating ‘alternative’ families called ‘Family Fridays‘) there’s a new flush of media emerging online; bloggers. Whilst they may not have the mainstream reach of the news sources Pink News sought (and continues) to challenge, there are bloggers across the world committed to showing that not only is an LGBTQ identification not all about sex; it’s also an identification that works just fine with being a parent. From breastfeeding Dads, to the fertility journeys of lesbian couples, LGBTQ people are representing themselves, and they are telling a fairly unequivocal story about their ‘suitability’ to be parents.