BY TUMA HAJI
Marginalization can still be an issue in groups who are already marginalized from a larger group. Lesbians and queer women may feel marginalized within the LGBTQ community due to gay men being the forefront of the movement. Often, gay men are given more platform in media such as films and media to speak for the larger LGBTQ community.
Vice President of Communications for Rainbow Union Zoe Hanna said media portrayal of LGBTQ people is evolving to embrace and envelop more sexualities.
“There’s a lot of identities that are coming out, queer women, queer women of color, etc., but we’re still slowly expanding our scope in the media from gay men, particularly gay white men, who’ve been portrayed in the media for years.” Hanna said.
Campus Engagement Librarian Sam Becker agreed with the concept that gay men are at the forefront of the LGBTQ community.
“I think it comes back to the way that genders and sexuality can intersect,” Becker said. “I think there is definitely prevalent sexism within the queer community. White gay men are often the figures used to represent queerness.”
Becker stressed that she does not believe gay men at the forefront results from an ill intent to overshadow queer women.
“But, there is still definitely [an issue] in making one group more visible, and as rhetoric around marriage equality and the rights of queer people have changed, it’s often times been at the forefront of what we talk about, what we think about and who is talking for us,” Becker said.
She recalled how she would desperately try to find films with queer women while she was a young girl struggling with her sexuality.
“It’s like we don’t exist, but we do,” Becker said.
President of Rainbow Union Isabelle Barrett said that the societal intersectionality between gender and sexuality are a factor in gay men overshadowing lesbian and queer women.
“I think it has to do with the historical inferiority of being feminine or fem, and I’m not sure how long ago this happened but when it changed from GLBT to LGBTQ+, in putting L first, that I think was like a step towards making queer rights and queer issues a feminist one,” Barrett said.
Hanna said that stigmas and stereotypes presented in the media suggest that queer women are aggressive and unloving. She said that queer and lesbian women were, and to an extent still are, portrayed as unfeminine, “butch” individuals with short hair. She attributed micro-aggressive phrases like “you’re a lesbian, but you’re so pretty” as a result of those stigmas.
“Queer women are seen as super masculine because they like women and that [interest in women] is seen as a masculine quality,” Hanna said.
Rainbow Union encourages any students who identify with the LGBTQ+ community or are struggling with their sexuality to join the organization.