International streaming giant Netflix has defended the decision to host characters representing the LGBT+ community throughout its slate, in opposition of a derogatory tweet.
The tweet featured a meme with characters from Spongebob Squarepants, suggesting that the use of queer characters in television programmes was unnecessary, stating: “Every damn new series”.
The succinct reply from the communications team at Netflix was simply, “Sorry you have yet to realize that every gay person is very necessary”.
sorry you have yet to realize that every gay person is very necessary https://t.co/xTOEcLWryc
— Netflix (@netflix) May 6, 2020
The response has so far provoked more than 660,000 likes, over 107,000 retweets and more than 9,500 responses – both positive and negative. There was an overarching message of support from the majority of those replying with rainbow flags, gifs and memes featuring scenes and characters from a number of the LGBT+ moment in Netflix shows.
An outpouring of solidarity quickly followed from other production companies and shows standing alongside the platform in support. Some include the Walking Dead and Freeform TV who replied: “Woooow. Wack opinions like that are the reason gay characters are overly necessary. Keep it up, @netflix”.
— Freeform (@FreeformTV) May 7, 2020
Producers of RuPaul’s Drag Race Logo TV, currently available on Netflix in many countries, posted gifs of scenes from the popular show, featuring special guest judge Raven Simone and former Season 11 cast member Brooke Lynn Hytes.
— Logo ?️? (@LogoTV) May 6, 2020
Negative replies often came alongside a religious undertone, with one twitter-happy respondent claiming the shows were pushing a homosexual agenda. He writes: “They can be gay, but don’t make a show of gay actions on a kids show that my kids watch. Don’t push that agenda on me and my family when we pay our Netflix bill every month! We won’t push our beliefs on y’all, so don’t push that on us..thanks”
They can be gay, but don’t make a show of gay actions on a kids show that my kids watch. Don’t push that agenda on me and my family when we pay our Netflix bill every month! We won’t push our beliefs on y’all, so don’t push that on us..thanks
— Joshua Clay Harrison (@harrison_clay) May 7, 2020
Another quotes current president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell Nelson: “Man simply cannot make moral what God has declared to be immoral. Sin, even if legalized by man, is still sin in the eyes of God”.
Accusations were also made in term of the ideas of tokenism of gay, lesbian and trans characters, as well as unnecessary sexualisation of straight characters or unnecessary heteronormative storylines.
Since it’s inception Netflix has been a staunch supporter and ally when it comes to representing LGBT+ characters throughout its platform, from characters in hit shows such as Riverdale, Glee, Sex Education, A-Typical, Brooklyn 99 and Sense8, to programming with queer protagonist or storylines as it’s main component, including Orange is the New Black, Eastsiders, Special, Hollywood, I Am Not Okay With This, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story and Pose.
It would of course be amiss not to mention the programming of international, Emmy-winning reality TV show RuPaul’s Drag Race and the revival and remake of Queer Eye.
With the help of this programming, the erasure of the LGBT+ community across the world is becoming a fable we tell the next generation. No more are characters simply overly stereotypical, flamboyant, gay best friends or caricatures of lesbian gym coaches, and trans issues are no longer considered a joke to be mocked and pointed at like a freak show. Netflix along with other industry titans such as Amazon Prime, Marvel, DC and Channel Four has been quintessential to creating well rounded, three-dimensional characters, often leading the hero’s journey.
A time without queer representation on television, film and theatre will soon feel like an abstract moment in the past and however many obstacles come up against the industry, the charge forward to the normalisation of the community throughout media and entertainment is coming to life.
And long may she reign.