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Sexuality and gender

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About sexuality and gender

Since the inception of screen culture, the evolution and depiction of LGBTQI+ communities on screen has been turbulent. Flamboyant and non-stereotypical masculine behaviour was employed by filmmakers in the early 1900s for comedic or shock value. From the Great Depression until the 60s, censorship led by religious fundamentalists banning "indecent" or "immoral" content increased in Hollywood and began portraying gay men and women as sadists, psychopaths, and nefarious, anti-social villains.

The LGBT-rights movement was a turning point for queer characters on screen finding a place for them outside of underground and independent cinema. Despite this easing of censorship in the 70s, mainstream media still routinely reflected queer culture on screen as an insult or a joke. The rise of conservative politics in the US and the emergence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic also continued to feed anxiety and fear about the community. In the 90s, New Queer Cinema ushered in a less stereotypical and divisive reflection of LGBTQI+ people on screen.

More recently, time on screen for positive representations of LGBTQI+ characters has increased. Mainstream films, TV series and video games have started to use queer characters as protagonists in contrast to supporting characters only. As LGBTQI+ history and culture is honoured and celebrated in more complex ways, audiences are treated to richer and better storytelling about our queer communities.

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