Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-05-13
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



VIEWS Visibility isn't the goal
by Julia Hale

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

In mid-July, I interviewed non-binary rapper CJ Run. In discussing the coming out of gay country rapper Lil Nas X, Run articulated something interesting regarding queer visibility. "Around the country there are a lot more queer-ish rappers around," they said. "I don't know if that's acceptance or just hypervisibility." This got me thinking about how visibility in the mainstream relates to acceptance.

Queerness isn't uncommon in popular culture, or even in politics nowadays. GLAAD's 2018-19 "Where We Are on TV" report found that broadcast, cable and streaming had "significant increases in LGBTQ characters of color." From the Netflix reboot Queer Eye, to Tyler the Creator ( the Grammy-nominated rapper who's come out as gay in recent years ) to openly gay presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, it's evident that queerness is having a moment in the mainstream. Sure, this can manifest as genuine advocacy, space-making and people feeling comfortable enough to come out ( as in the examples above ), but it can also manifest as tokenism queerbaiting.

Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines tokenism as making a "symbolic effort," as opposed to a real one. Queerbaiting, while not in the dictionary, is defined by Wikipedia as a marketing technique in which same-sex romance is hinted at, but not actually depicted. For example, the CW show Riverdale has been accused of tokenism, queerbaiting and following the Bury Your Gays TV trope.

Queerbaiting is also common in the music industry; pop singer Ariana Grande has been accused of it, among many others. A article ( at ) outlines the recent history of queerbaiting in pop music, including everything from February's Dua Lipa x St. Vincent Grammy performance to the iconic 2003 Britney Spears/Christina Aguilera/Madonna Video Music Awardss kisses.

To be hypervisible is to be extremely visible. Some might argue that the hypervisibility of queerness in the media serves as proof of acceptance, but that is not the case. "I feel like in the media, being queer is like the hot new topic," said Run. "It's very in, and I don't know if that's so much acceptance or if it's just, like, a microscope is kind of on us now," they said. "That doesn't mean we're being accepted more, it just means people know about us more." So, given the evident influx of queerness into the mainstream, this begs the question: Is hypervisibility actually benefiting queer people?

GLAAD's 2018 "Accelerating Acceptance" report says that after years of positive momentum, in 2018, "the acceptance pendulum abruptly stopped and swung in the opposite direction." This 2017 study from RTI International, a North Carolina non-profit research organization, titled "Violence and LGBTQ+ Communities" stated that "despite perceptions that society is becoming more open and accepting of LGBTQ+ individuals, estimates of victimization disparities between LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ populations appear to have generally worsened or been sustained since the 1990s." Furthermore, "the very 'outness' and gender nonconformity that decades of collective struggle have made possible for some LGBTQ+ individuals may also expose them to victimization at higher rates than ever before." People might be coming out of the closet more than they used to, but that doesn't mean queer people are suffering any less because of it.

Hypervisibility ( as we know it ) is only accompanied by perceived acceptance, not true progress. Visibility simply does not mean acceptance. Sure, Ru-Paul popularized drag, but the 26 trans characters found on TV during 2018-19 is matched by the 26 transgender women who died in the United States in 2018. Additionally, the casualties of hypervisibility, including tokenism and queerbaiting, are harmful and don't do anything to benefit LGBTQ+ persons. So, let us not equate representation, or the promise of it, with acceptance or even tolerance among the people of the United States. Just because you see more gay shit doesn't mean gay people have to deal with any less shit. In the words of non-binary rapper CJ Run: "It's nice that we're visible. Hopefully the acceptance piece can come with that."

Julia Hale is a rising senior at DePaul University studying journalism and Spanish.

facebook twitter google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

VIEWS LGBTQ discrimination is a disgrace 2020-05-18 - Re the New York Times article, "Aimee Stephens, 59, Plaintiff in Transgender Rights Case" ( obituary, May 14 ): Our world has long ...

Gay News

THE AMAZON TRAIL A giant 2020-04-15 - "We lost a giant today," tweeted California state Sen. Scott Weiner, who is chairman of the LGBTQ caucus. A giant is exactly what ...

Gay News

Chief judge weighs in on bail reviews during COVID-19 epidemic 2020-03-21 - The Circuit Court of Cook County, under the direction of Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, has taken a series of actions since March ...

Gay News

THE AMAZON TRAIL Mick's potato fertilizer 2020-03-17 - When I asked for advice about growing potatoes, our friend Mary wrote, "Here is what Mick does: blood meal, green sand, or wood ...

Gay News

Stop comparing coronavirus to early HIV/AIDS. Just stop. 2020-03-17 - People ask me if our lives today feel like the early years of HIV/AIDS, and I want to scream. There is no comparison. ...

Gay News

VIEWS In 2020, being queer could be key to a courageous career 2020-02-08 - Remember, in The Wizard of Oz, how the Cowardly Lion—when he got to see the wizard—was like, "What? I already had courage? WTH?" ...

Gay News

OPINION 'Trans-formal' education 2020-02-05 - "The year started well, but substitute teachers were not told about Dave's name," my friend Pat told me. "My son was called a ...

Gay News

VIEWS Warren's America would center our voices 2020-01-28 - Days before I marched in my first Pride Parade in 2015, I waited anxiously for the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that ...

Gay News

VIEWS College for LGBTQ students 2020-01-22 - Finding yourself and becoming comfortable with your identity is something that people within the LGBTQ community struggle with every day. There is ...

Gay News

THE AMAZON TRAIL The tabloid edition 2020-01-22 - Bath Door Balks at Booting Hostage Hostage Trapped for NINETY-MINUTES Suspect Subdued with Electrical Weapon A woman in a remote town in ...


Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.