This week Lindsey McQuitty turns her attention to the ongoing struggle that the marginalised gay and lesbian community face when trying to have their voices heard on mainstream television.

A lot of people, especially young people, watch television programmes where issues concerning homosexuality and lesbianism are an integral part of the storyline or indeed the actual focus of it.

I think that it’s about time that there were more programmes like “Sugar Rush” and the “L Word” on mainstream television. Programmes like this have really helped to bring issues for the gay and lesbian community out of the closet and to finally make a positive contribution to our understanding of this often, marginalized section of society.

Some people do not consider these sorts of programmes to be entertaining, informative or indeed educational. Instead they believe that it is a “disgrace” for broadcasters to give airtime to gays and lesbians. Although everyone is entitled to their own opinion, these people would do well to consider that all sections of society have an equal right to be heard. Just as more mainstream opinions deserve to be heard so too do those of people who might be considered a minority. All opinions should be treated with equal respect. The viewer or listener should be given the chance to make up their own mind and not dictated to about what they can and can’t watch.

After all, homosexuals watch programmes about the lives of heterosexual people and the way they live. It’s about time that they were afforded the opportunity to watch programmes about their own community and issues affecting them. It’s also about time that everyone else opened their minds and accepted diversity in our society and celebrates differences.

These types of programmes allow people to express their emotions about their sexuality and to educate others about those emotions. This kind of programme doesn’t only make us laugh and cry but also shows us the sorts of issues that gays and lesbians face everyday. These programmes show us all the same the love and heartbreak that heterosexuals encounter in their lives. After all love is the same no matter who you are and the effects of heartbreak are the same no matter who you are.

Young people who are trying to understand issues of sexuality can use shows like “Sugar Rush” to help them understand. As well as being of an educational value, programmes like “Like Sugar Rush” and “The L Word” are highly entertaining.

Theses shows just don’t teach the world about the gay and lesbian community, they also make use laugh, cry and also open up our minds to the choices that other people face in life. I think that television programmes for and about homosexuals are an entertainment genre in their own right and I think we are all much better of because of their inclusion in our television diet. Long may it continue to be so.

About this team

This opinion piece was written by Lindsey McQuitty, 17, and edited by Lyra McKee 16. It was published on the Reach for the Sky website in 2006. 

Lyra McKee was a previous participant of Headliners in Belfast and more recently a trustee of Headliners (UK). She was killed in Derry/Londonderry on the 18th April 2019. You can read the statement from Headliners (UK) here.

Lyra has in recent years been a powerful advocate for the LGBTQ community. You can read Lyra's ‘Letter to her 14 year old self' here where she describes her struggles coming to terms with her sexuality. You and watch her recent TEDx talk here in which she argues that changing religious teaching on LGBTQ people will literally save lives.