It’s almost easy to forget how far we’ve come as a country when it come to LGBTQ representation in media. It’s 2014 and if I wanted to watch a film with LGBTQ character representations, I would be able to name at least 5 off the top of my head. 10 years ago, while it was still possible to find representations of the LGBTQ community in media, it wasn’t as easy at it is now. You can see the social historical change that has occurred concerning the LGBTQ community by following one show that has been around long enough. For instance, Glee which started in 2009 has a representation of what it is like to be gay in a small town and if you follow the show you get to see the growth of that character from a scared bullied young gay man in high school to now a strong confident gay man living in New York. We can see the change not only in him as a character but also a change in how others treat him and a sense of growth in attitudes when it comes to LGBTQ community just in this one television series.
This leads me towards the movie Saved!. Saved! is definitely a social representation of the U.S. in 2004 when it come to the topic of religion and the LGBTQ community. I remember getting the movie Saved! for my birthday in 2004. I was only 14 and I’m convinced I got it by accident. Those who gave it to me probably thought it was a religious film judging the film completely by it’s cover. Saved! however, was a satirical film. It hit, what I think, was erupting around me as a teenager. I was starting high school, and even at 14 I was surrounded by young girls getting pregnant, and young classmates exploring their sexuality. While it what was going on wasn’t a shock to me, it was a shock to the adults around us. Saved! made a commentary on teen pregnancy, religion, and LGBTQ issues. It questioned how those so devoted to “God” and peace and love could treat people who have made mistakes or who are different so horribly.
You have a girl who is ostracized for getting pregnant by her gay boyfriend. She gets pregnant because she tries to “fix” her gay boyfriend. He tells her he’s gay and she thinks she can fix it by having sex with him. This is satirical to the times because as silly as that would sound today, it was a common thought and assumption not only made by teenagers but adults as well. The thought that one sin is worse than another is also a common thought. The main character Mary, also thinks it’s acceptable to have sex with her boyfriend, despite her religious values, because she believes it’s for a good cause. It is a clear representation of the times and what people thought was worse at the time. People were viewing being gay as worse sin than having sex before marriage. She thought she was saving him from damnation.
Eventually her gay boyfriend is sent away to a rehabilitation center for his gayness and this girl is dropped by the popular crowd because of her pregnancy. She wasn’t holy enough to be one of the most popular girls in school and the only person who would befriend her is the only Jew at the catholic school, who is considered to be the biggest rebel and slut at the school. I think it’s interesting the way that was all set up. It’s like anyone who isn’t Catholic is a problem and it’s clear when the only non-catholic at the school is seen as the biggest threat to the school.
Saved! was definitely representation of the times in 2004 and of the change of times. In 2004, the controversies between religion and the LGBTQ community continuing to erupt as it had been but media was sort of taking a stand against it. Media was taking steps in including LGBTQ characters in films and television and how they were being represented. Media like Saved! was making fun of the close minded views and ridiculous approaches to LGBTQ people. Later, we start getting media like The L word which also came out in 2004 like Saved!, and Broke Back Mountain which came out in 2005. I think it’s pretty interesting how we can follow the growth of the gay character and their struggles using film and looking at it in the lens of social history. Today, just 10 years later, we went from having monumental films like Brokeback Mountain and film which send a message like Saved!, to now having an entire genre of LGBTOQ films for the LGBTQ community.