Television remains the most conspicuous and visible marker of this new era of lesbian and gay visibility. With its location intimately amidst the family life of America, it's no wonder the increasing amounts of gays and lesbians on television has created quit a stir among this once heterosexual bliss. But, is this explosion of gay visibility beneficial to the cause or harmful? Does visibility equate to acceptance? .
In this paper, I am going to review some of the literature written on the media's affect on attitudes towards homosexuality and also take you on a brief historical review of the milestones made for gays and lesbians on prime time television over the past several decades.
Can the media play a part in changing attitudes towards gays and lesbians? If so, what kinds of images are being put out to the American people? Many studies conducted on this topic would suggest that the media does have a strong influence in changing attitudes. Television, consumes so much of America's time and by looking at the trends on the TV, one can easily see what is going on in society. That's why the recent explosion of gay and lesbian visibility on television has become such a popular topic of discussion. .
Crawford, Ellis, and Riggle (1996) found that the relationship between the level of prejudice toward gay men and media contact, are interrelated to one another. 115 students out of 314 were shown a documentary film that depicted the life and death of a prominent gay male politician. Drawing on questionnaire data, the results found that the film had a significant and positive effect on the attitudes towards homosexuals. .
While Crawford found that positive exposure in the media help the gay community, svenues on television may be damaging. Gamson (1995 and 1998) brings up the issue of daytime talk shows displaying a negative image for homosexuals and have a negative impact towards them.