THERE are calls for the Australian media to boost the numbers of trans* people and more accurately reflect the diversity of the gay community on television.

A forum held by LGBTI Christian group freedom2b in Sydney last Friday heard that the portrayal of intimacy between gay characters is often less than what occurs between straight characters, even within the same program.

Speaking to the Star Observer, freedom2b vice president Ben Gresham cited Channel 9’s House Husbands: “Of the four couples portrayed on the show, the gay couple displayed the least amount of physical intimacy with one another, such as on-screen kissing.”

Gresham said gay characters on TV shows were often one-dimensional: “We don’t see the many facets of the gay community portrayed and characters are often stereotypical. Where are the non-white gay people on TV, the gay Christians or gay Muslims?”

The forum also questioned why there was an almost complete lack of trans* people in the Australian media. Overseas, trans* characters have appeared in films such as the Oscar-winning Dallas Buyers Club and prime-time TV show Glee. In January, 11 million Britons tuned into to watch Hayley Cropper leave Coronation Street, 16 years after she became the first ever regular trans* character in a UK soap.

Gresham said it was time Australian TV portrayed similar characters: “Trans* and intersex people don’t see themselves represented in mainstream Australian media and this can lead to a perception of isolation in that community.”

(Image: A scene from HBO series Looking, which features gay characters) 

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