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The "Right" Way to Be Gay?


It's good to see gay characters appearing more often in films and TV, but you have to wonder if the character's sexuality is shown because:


  1. the character is an important part of the plot and also happens to be gay, or
  2. the character has been placed in the film and portrayed as stereotypically gay so that the movie-makers can show how "open" they are. 

An example of #1 would be Charlotte Rampling's portrayal of a lawyer in the TV series Broadchurch.  Her characters is central to the plot and only late in the series do we learn that she is also gay. There is nothing stereotypical about her portral of her character.




The recent version of Beauty and the Beast is an example of #2: the character of LeFou is stereotypically gay, and created that way, many suspect, so that Disney can demonstrate their openness.


What do your students think? Is LeFou offensive? Who might find it offensive? So what is the "right" way to include a person's sexuality in movies or TV? 


I asked my students these questions and the discussion went in a lot of different directions.  It was interesting, but a little unfocused.  Next time I'm going to try a "Think, Pair, Square" approach to discussing this is class: after you list the questions above on the board, have students respond to the questions on their own on a piece of paper.  Then the students can pair up and discuss each other's answers.  Finally each group of 2 gets together with another group of 2 to form the "square". You could finally ask each group of 4 to pick a representative to share their ideas with the entire class.