Gay American gothic : a movement returns to its past
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This discourse analysis seeks to understand how depictions of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) people within news coverage changed over the past 60 years and what those depictions mean for the future of a group of individuals who still face violence and bigotry and struggle to gain equal access to laws and rights. News stories are a salient tool to translate the unknown to known. This research approaches news stories as social constructions, which often times reflect existing power structures and shape social reality. Through the qualitative analysis of news coverage from four historically significant moments in Austin, Texas, this research demonstrates the path that gay and lesbian people experienced in the media—from being portrayed as sexual deviants to a homonormative monolith in the form of patriotic, domesticated, depoliticized, and desexualized couples. The news discourse over the past five decades demonstrated how stories slowly shed all radical politics from the gay liberationist past and adopted an assimilationist orientation. Bisexuals, transgender people, individuals who suffered from and died because of AIDS, and all other queer people who don’t adhere to the homonormative construct have been symbolically annihilated throughout history and continue to be. Journalists from mainstream, collegiate and alternative publications continue to utilize reporting practices that marginalize and delegitimize LGBTQ people. Nearly 70 years after making their first appearance in the mainstream press, framed as perverts and deviants, LGBTQ people continue to be subjected to homophobic discourse. By understanding changing news frames through the past six decades, this analysis attempts to weave an explanation of how the depictions may have and may continue to perpetuate false perceptions of LGBTQ people. This research interrogates the very power of the press, as an institution of power in society, to reflect hegemonic values, not challenge them.