Theumbrella term “LGBTQ” consists of many identities. Theseidentities include lesbian,gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The experiences of personsidentified with LGBTQ acronym are diverse. This affects not only theway their art is created, but also seen. Until recently, it has beensocially unacceptable for individuals to belong to LGBTQ community inmost parts of the world. In tandem with this, homophobia as well asracism has significantly affected the form of LGBTQ art. The UnitedStates of America is renowned for putting intense pressure onindividuals belonging to LGBTQ some years ago. Sexual proclivities aswell as identity were stored separately with other elements ofprofessional and religious life. However, significant changes havetaken place recently to accommodate LGBTQ art. Actions of censorshiplike Culture Wars and Hollywood Production Code have influenced thegrowth of the LGBTQ art in the United States. Despite this, issues ofdiscrimination still exist and it affects LGBTQ people. The studyaims at expounding on the contributions of LGBTQ people in theAmerican . In addressing this, the paper will provide detailedinformation on how LGBTQ community has changed the perceptions ofentertainment as well as .
Sincethe introduction of the television programming, the presence of gayand lesbian characters in popular culture is extremely limited theirexistence is mostly linked to criminality and deviance. Theappearance of LGBTQ characters in comedies and dramas started in the1990s. However, most of the shows airing such shows experienced notonly a series of boycotts and negative feedback, but also disapprovalin addition to punishment from their respective sponsors. Suchchallenges impaired with the advancement of LGBTQ art. Similarly,majority of the gay and lesbian artists have delayed exposingthemselves to the industry because of the homophobic socialclimate (Badgett and Herman 8). By 2000, however, the appearances ofLGBTQ characters in the U.S. media started to increase. The growth ofthe LGBTQ characters in the media was an indication that the Americancommunity had started to accept such people (Badgett and Herman 10).In fact, gay and lesbian characters constitute a good percentage ofthe elite in the contemporary . One of the facts associatedwith the increased number of LGBTQ actors in include theattraction of some people toward individuals of their gender.
Individualswith the same-sexual interests are claimed to be good actors sincethey have experience of developing methods of making up heterosexualinterest. The claimed is justified by the extraordinary performanceof LGBTQ actors in . A good example of an actress thatperformed extraordinary male roles in American include anAmerican referred to as Charlotte Cushman. Her greatest fame in theacting career is that of enacting the role of Romeo. One critic thatembraces her contribution in the American includes “as alover, the ardor of her devotion exceeded that of any male actor Ihave ever seen in the part” (Marston 76). Offstage, Cushman isclaimed to have had romantic attachments with many women including anovelist and journalist referred to as Matilda Hays. Cushman and Haysare claimed to have ended in what was called by Elizabeth Barett as“a female marriage.”Edwin Forrest was also a popular figure inthe American stage in late nineteenth century. He portrayed not onlynoble, but also heroic characters in many plays includingShakespeare,TheGladiator,and Damon and Pythias.Despite being gay, Forrest performed exemplary in the American stage.
Themost renowned playwrights in America constitute homosexualcharacters. One of the landmark plays that portrayed a gay characteron the platform includes TheBoys in the Band(1968) by Mart Crowley. The success of this play in America evidencedthe possibility of gay drama becoming commercially viable (Gianoulis2). It also meant that other playwrights interested in writing gaydrama could pursue their interest without facing any commercialdisaster. Many playwrights on gay drama emerged in the 80s,influencing the production of greater plays. Gay drama exists in theU.S. because of the radical demanding attitude. It is believed thattheater is the best platform for airing the plights of the minoritygroups such as heterosexual and homosexual society. The eightcharacters in the play TheBoys in the Band,clearly paints on what takes place in the world. It representsadequately what gay people had started to avoid (Costa 32). Forinstance, it portrays self-rejection of the characters because of thesocietal demands (Caro 3). Homosexual was highly disregarded by thesociety in which the characters belonged. It is as a result of thisthat all the eight characters have negative attitude about themselvesas much as their sexual identity is concerned.
Fromthe play The Boys in the Band, one can note that gays used not tohave any position in the society. Apart from being rejected, theyused not to get useful roles in their urban environment. Themiss-presentation of gay people in the society depicts them as socialfailure. Surprisingly, the inactiveness of most gays according to theplay is as a result of homophobia (Costa 26). The solution to suchchallenges according to the play includes having sexual freedom.Homosexuals need to find personal acceptance if they need to coexistwith other people in the society. From the argument, it is apparentthat gay characters have successfully managed to present the plightsof the minority groups through in America. The social justiceexperienced in America today is as a result of the participation ofthe LGBTQ community in the American . The presentation of theplights of the minority to the audience raises not onlyconsciousness, but also creates awareness in the audience aboutthings that take place in the society.
Theproduction of TheBoys in the Bandplayed a critical role in the commercial . As it was notedbefore, homosexuality as well as lesbianism was highly discouraged inthe American society prior to the presentation of this play to thepublic. The filming of the play was a cinematic milestone since itacted as a gay civil-rights movement. It portrayed not only humor andresilience of LGBT people, but also the pain they experience in thesociety. Such presentation changed the public perception about gaysin the society. In fact, it made many people to recognize LGBTcommunity. For instance, Tony Kushner argued that “It was the firsttime I saw gay men represented in any other way than as a patheticfuddy-duddy old bachelor or a figure of complete hatred and mockery”(Oliver 2010). Similarly, Larry Kramer remarked on the professionalpart of TheBoys in the Band,stating that “it showed me as a writer, as a gay person, as a gaywriter, what was possible in the commercial theater” (Oliver 2010).In other words, TheBoys in the Bandinfluenced the production of other gay playwrights to write on themesrelated to gay and lesbian practices. In connection to this, DougWright noted that the production of the play helped him stop hidingand starting talking to other gay people as well as write about gaypeople in a manner that was consistent with his life.
Agood percentage of Americas’ gay, lesbian as well as bisexual andtransgender grownups (92%) claim that the society has become moreaccommodative of them in the past years and a large percentage ofthem expect the situation to improve further in the coming decade.These individuals associate the changes with many things, fromindividuals knowing as well as interacting with people from LGBTcommunity, to their promotion by recognized individuals in thepublic. They also attribute their successful existence to LGBT adultssuccessfully raising families (Pew Research Center 1). Individuals’relationships in addition to the role played by renowned publicfigures contribute significantly to the acceptance of the LGBTcommunity in the society. Considering this argument, it is apparentthat many stars in the American constitute LGBT people. Forinstance, John Barrowman is a renowned American actor. Hisperformance in different fields of acting is considered by Americansand people from other parts of the world exemplary. Such goodperformance has significantly led to the acceptance of the LGBTpeople in the American . In fact, they are considered the bestactors. It was argued before that the society dictated the kind ofdrama that was presented by American s. Since the societydisregarded the minority in the society, arts by lesbians and gayswere rarely presented to the public. The practice however changedwith the increased number of lesbian as well as bisexual womenplaywrights. These individuals reshaped the American drama.
Thepresence of LGBT community in the American contributedsignificantly to the acceptance of playwrights by black gays.According to Fitzgerald, racism used to affect the way the Americansociety viewed blacks. Productions by the blacks rarely found theirway to the audience (Fitzgerald 3). Fitzgerald argues that “blackgay plays written by openly black gay playwrights are not well known”(Fitzgerald 3). One of the reasons attributed to the black gayplaywrights obscurity is the insignificant impact sexually variantblack actors have made on the mainstream audience. Despitethis, the presence of LGBT people in the American assuresfuture existence of black gay playwrights. “A play with a black manas the lead character staged in Los Angeles in the early 1970s”(Fitzgerald 12). One of such plays is Normanis that You?The unfortunate thing related to this play is that the play wasadvertised mainly on the black radio. Apart from unpacking thepolitical representation of the blacks, the play presented room forchange. It offered a migration from what is referred to as ghettohomeland characterized with fixed identifications. In addition tothis, Normanis that You?changed how the blacks were perceived by whites. Prior to theproduction of this play, blacks were considered exiles with ghetto asonly their delegated space. Thus, the play changed the racist of theblacks by allowing them to traverse the redlined boundaries. It actedas a transformative power that resulted in consciousness ofrecognition (Fitzgerald 16).
Theateris considered a powerful media that can change the specific socialissues. Prior to the inclusion of the LGBT community in ,students belonging to the LGBT community experienced a lot ofchallenges. Theatre contributes significantly to the change ofattitude that can help LGBT students to overcome homophobia and anykind of discrimination that takes place in the institutions (Iverson41). Participation of the LGBT people in the American hasalso increased intergroup dialogue. According to Iverson, performanceon issues related to LGBT serves as a platform for discussing socialissues. In addition, it elicits emotional responses as well as holdsthe ability to leave the audience with powerful impressions. Similarly, Iverson argues that drama on LGBT leaves the audience withmultiple besides conflicting views of incidents which are importantin decision making. Through drama, people tend to views thingsdifferently as well as act in different ways. Therefore, thetransforming potential of in altering attitudes towards LGBTpeople affirms the positive contribution of LGBT community in theAmerican .
Theplay Angelsin Americaalso represents an actual turning point in the American drama. Theplay clearly demonstrates the kind of life specific persons livedbecause of belonging to certain communities. In writing this play,Kushner expressed lack of hope by certain people in the community.Due to discrimination and homophobia, the minority groups thoughtthey were neglected and their contributions in the society wasinsignificant. One of the key things that Kushner advocates in theplay through one character, Slavs, is need for change. According toKushner, the world was moving ahead and it was necessary for thepeople to embrace change. In support of this, he noted that “youhave to have hope. It’s irresponsible to give false hope, which Ithink a lot of playwrights are guilty of. But I also think it’irresponsible to simply be a nihilist …. I don’t believe youwould bother to write a play if you really had no hope. ..” (Munozand Cadiz 4). From this statement, it is apparent that Kushner washopeful of changing the practice in the society. He believed throughhis playwright he would change how people viewed the minority in thesociety. Creation of hope in the disadvantaged persons in the societyis one of the roles of the America . Equally, bringsabout enlightenment. The play Angelsin Americachampioned this since Kushner used neo-Enlightenment approach to callfor change. One thing that could bring the needed change according toKushner was to reject stagnation associated with specific social andpolitical attitudes. Thus, Angelsin Americacontributed to the good change experienced in America today. Thevoice of the minorities including LGBT people is as a result of theplay’s call for end of marginalization (Munoz and Cadiz 6).
LGBTpersons struggle with mixed feelings about themselves in life. Apartfrom developing a feeling of rejection, some question their formationthinking they are abnormal. The feelings of gay persons are wellexpressed in the play Angelsin America.After officially informing his mother that he was gay, Kushnerstarted to think about himself in a different way. In the play, henotes that “I think I have a great deal of self-hatred, a profoundfeeling of fraudulence, of being detestable and evil. It’s only apart of me, but it’s there, and it’s alive” (Kushner 3). Thedark side of Kushner as described in this statement stemmed from hisrealization early in life that he was extremely different from whathis parents expected of him. However, he rejected the call from hisfather not to give in to homosexuality. According to Kushner,speaking negatively about a person’s lifestyle is like attackingthe center of his being. In other words, Kushner used the play Angelsin America to discourage the society from abominating whatcharacterizes other people in the society. As it was noted before,the acceptance of LGBT people in the society is as a result of theplays by LGBT persons in the America .
Theatreis an inspiration for social change. The claim is justified by therole played by the play Beforeit Hits Home.The play by Cheryl West shows how lack of awareness led to the deathof many people of color. The main objective of the play was to giveblack men and women a voice. According to the play, HIV and AIDS wereassociated with homosexuality. A large percentage of persons believedthat these diseases only affected gay men. Such perception paintedgay men negatively in the society. The contributions of West incleaning the image of gay men as well as creating awareness aboutAIDS are well depicted in the play. West considered it important tocreate a story relating to African American community to help themfight an issue that had become personal. According to West,stigmatization of the homosexuals started in late 1980s when majorityof the people who died of AIDS constituted homosexuals. As a resultof this, many people considered the new disease “gay disease.”This stigma made people to think that one had to be a gay as well asengage in gay sexual activities to contract disease (6). In additionto this, the disease was linked with specific social characteristics.Once an individual was diagnosed with the disease, he or she wasclaimed to have associated in a specific activity. For instance, whena man was diagnosed with AIDS, he was thought of as a gay. Apart fromthis man labeled nasty and immoral, he was considered vagrant andoutcast (Johnson 6). Such perceptions about gays were inappropriatefor the morally upright gays. The play Beforeit Hits Homeclearly demonstrated what AIDS entailed. It also saved the image ofthe gays by clearly showing that all persons irrespective of sex weresusceptible to the disease.
Blackpeople have been slaves of black culture for many years. In fact theobservance of the black culture used to affect black gayssignificantly. Black culture deems masculinity and fatherhood as ablack man’s primary responsibility” (Johnson 8). For long, blackmen associated a man with masculine, in which a masculine person hadto be heterosexual, married as well as a father. This notion ofblackness besides masculinity barred many African men fromidentifying themselves as bisexuals or gays admitting being gayequated to losing their blackness. The fear of being true self in thesociety had a devastating effect in the society. It is as a result ofthis that West considered it right to create a play that gave allpeople voice and exposed the hidden lifestyle of black men. West’splay clearly demonstrated the products of denial in addition tosecrets. Apart from creating awareness about AIDS, the play gaveblack gays a voice in the society. It also made many black gays toaccept themselves and their practices. Considering the claim by West,it is apparent that the exclusive existence of playwrights mainly onwhite gays was due to self denial and secrecy by the blacks. Blacksavoided exposing their gay activities to the public at all costciting the possibility of discrimination by the whites. Thus, theAmerican through West’s play demonstrated what was takingplace in the society and contributing to increased cases of deaths asa result of AIDS in blacks. Equally, the inclusion of the blackcharacters as gays in plays presented in American is as aresult of the presentation of plays such as Beforeit Hits Home.
Playwrightson issues related to LGBT were highly discouraged in the past and itwas illegal for anyone to allow such presentation to the audience.Internal homophobia as a result of political, religious in additionto familial hardship associated with sexuality as well as externalhomophobia as a result of negatives linked to LGBT people discouragedpresentation of LGBT themes. According to Campagna, some homosexualcharacters in the play referred to as SuddenlyLast Summerlost their lives due to acting. Marginalization was clearlydemonstrated in the American . This however changed as fromlate 1960s when the presentation of gays and lesbians increasedrecognizably in the . Based on this, one can argue that someof the factors that regulated the existence and growth of playstouching on LGBT themes include fear of torture. Thus, the daring ofsome individuals in depicting male as well as female homosexualitycontributed tremendously to the participation of LGBT people in theAmerican . CryHavocis one of the plays that depicts the daring effort of butch lesbiantogether with grapples in producing playwrights during the time thatwas considered odd (Campagna 4). The entry of homosexuality involvingthe visibility of gay and lesbian was a complicated process. Thanksto the American playwrights on homosexuals emerged andincreased in American despite all these challenges.
In conclusion, the contribution of the LGBT community in the American is immense. Extensive production of playwrights onhomosexuals has increased the presentation of LGBT people in theAmerican . Themes related to LGBT issues have also increasedin the American because of the participation of LGBT peoplein writing as well as acting roles related to their characters. LGBTplays have the societal attitude about LGBT people. Apart fromaccepting them, the society listens to the views of the LGBT people.It has also reduced discrimination that was common in the U.S.against LGBT people. Currently, people easily and freely identifythemselves as gays, lesbians, and transgender. Inclusion of LGBTcommunity in the America has created awareness about someincidents in the society. Black gays no longer have self-denial asthey used to have in the past. Majority of them identify themselvesas slaves as well as share their lifestyle with other members of thesociety. The play such as Beforeit Hits Homecontributed significantly in overcoming racism and addressing aserious health problem in the society. Through this play, blackpeople learnt that the disease AIDS is not for black gays only. Italso ruled out the negative perception people had about peopleassociated with gay practice. Participation of the LGBT community inthe American has encouraged many people in life to supportLGBT people. TheBoys In the Bandshowed the plight of gays in the society which need to be addressed.In addition, LGBT actors feature among the best actors in America.Unlike heterosexual actors, homosexuals clearly present the realcharacter since it involves self-reflection. Considering this, it isimportant for LGBT community to be allowed to participate in theAmerican . The role of LGBT community in the American also needs to be recognized. It is recommendable for the society toaccept them and avoid criticizing their lifestyle.
Badgett,Lee and Herman Jody. Sexual Orientation & Gender IdentityDiversity in Entertainment: Experiences & PerspectivesofSAG-AFTRA Members. SAG.AFTRA. 2013.
Campagna,Vanessa. FromStonewall to Millenium: Lesbian Presentation in Three Late 20th Century Plays by American Women.2015. https://mospace.umsystem.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10355/46844/research.pdf?sequen ce=2&isAllowed=yAccessed on 27 March 2017.
Caro,Jesus. AnAnalysis of Gay Characters in American Drama.2016. http://rodin.uca.es/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10498/18628/TFG%20revised.pdf?sequence=1 Accessed on 27 March
Costa,Francisco. Faggot, Fairy, Pansy… Queer’: Gay/Queer Confrontationsin Mart
Crowley`sThe Boys in the Band.RevistaDe EstudiosNorteamericanos17, 2013.
Fitzgerald,Howard. QueeringBlack Gay Historiography: Performance, (Mis) Identifications, andPossibilities.http://escholarship.org/uc/item/7339p06j#page-234Accessed 25 March 2017.
Johnson,Jonathan. Theater:A Beacon for Social Change: Before it Hits Home’s Effect on the African American and The Savannah College of Art and Design CampusCommunity. Savannah,GA,2012.
Gianoulis,Tina. Theater Companies. GLBTQ.2015. http://www.glbtqarchive.com/arts/theater_companies_A.pdfAccessed 31 March 2017.
Kushner,Tony. Angelsin America.2014. http://www.q.co.nz/sites/default/files/Silo%20Theatre%27s%20ANGELS%20IN %20AMERICA%20programme.pdfAccessed on 27 March 2017.
Loist,Skadi. QueerFilm Culture: Performative Aspects of LGBT/Q Film Festivals.2014. http://ediss.sub.uni-hamburg.de/volltexte/2015/7333/pdf/Dissertation.pdfAccessed 27 March 2017.
Marston,Westland. OurRecent Actors: Being Recollections Critical, And, in Many Cases, Personal, of Late Distinguished Performers of Both Sexes.New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012.
Munoz,Alfonso. TonyKushner’s Angels in America or How American History Spins Forward. University of Barcelona. 2010.
PewResearch Center. ASurvey of LGBT Americans: Attitudes, Experiences and Values inChanging Times.2013.http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/files/2013/06/SDT_LGBT- Americans_06-2013.pdf Accessed 25 March 2017.