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Digital Subscriptions > Attitude > December 2018 > How the other half lives

How the other half lives

White, well-off and middle class — this is the gay stereotype peddled by the media for straight audiences. The multi-faceted reality of the LGBT+ community — the working class, black, and trans — has been airbrushed out. Here, they tell their stories


Around 30 years ago, a series of marketing executives sat around tables and discussed — maybe for one of the first times ever — the LGBT+ community. Instead of talking about our struggles, our lives or the prejudice we still face today, they talked about our profitability. They described us in demographic terms as a core audience to be sold to, a proverbial cash cow begging to be milked. Companies wasted no time.

Flashy, successful LGBT+ characters emerged in sitcoms to charm the world, whereas advertisements and brands postured as queer-friendly to win a market-wide race for the “pink pound”.

In reality, this mainstream “acceptance” was reserved only for the wealthiest, most privileged echelons of the LGBT+ spectrum.

Three decades later, not much has changed. Paradoxically, the result of increased LGBT+ visibility has been widespread erasure. As a kid born and raised on a council estate by a single mother, I didn’t see my experiences reflected in the cosmopolitan characters on-screen.

Elsewhere, people of colour were left out of whitewashed historical accounts and the existence of a thriving trans community was barely acknowledged at all. This erasure is important, especially as a global shift towards the far right drives an ideological wedge through the UK’s LGBT+ community. Now, more than ever, it’s time to acknowledge that the ‘queer experience’ isn’t monolithic, and that the examples we do see are designed to be palatable; to be queer, but not queer enough to deter a mass audience.

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Double cover special! Will & Grace star Sean Hayes, plus the world’s biggest girl band Little Mix. Also in this issue: Milan Christopher, Billy Eichner, and more.