LGBTQIA+ representation & the mental health impact

As another pride month comes and goes, much celebration was had in the fact that we could be ourselves with pride in person again! Below Young, Activist Lysiane from France shares with you how representation on the small screen can have a positive effect on our mental health.

Pride Month

Is a beautiful reminder to celebrate who we are, whom we love, each other and all the people who came before us, opening doors that should have never been closed and fighting for our rights.

As a lesbian myself, I realised that access to peer support, literature that you can relate to, and history books on our community can be difficult. Nowadays online communities and content have built many bridges but we should never underestimate the impact of LGBTQIA+ representation in popular culture.

Being able to see yourself, see your feelings, concerns and journey properly represented can be life-changing, have a long-term impact on mental health and I, therefore, wanted to bring forward some TV shows which are for me a must-watch!

Young Activist, Lysiane, France
Heartstopper

Saying I’m not obsessed with this show and related comic books would be a blatant lie. Not only are mental health problems, emotions and hardships approached in a sensible and realistic manner but the love coming out of this work is overwhelmingly beautiful. We have seen countless shows unfortunately dismissing LQBTQIA+ characters, only putting forward tragic stories and endings which while they should be represented cannot be all that we have.

Heartstopper reminds you that you are not alone, that there are a lot of people within the community which are all as wonderful and that you should never give up on hope. There is more love and support around you that you may even think there is.

Pose

Pose is groundbreaking on more levels than an Instagram post could list. Amongst those, it is important to note that it features the largest cast of transgender actors ever for a TV show and shows under-told experiences of trans women and gay people of color. It is unapologetic, strong and features difficult, important situations and problems with an undying sense of community.

It reminds the viewer that family doesn’t end in blood, that there is more support and lifelines than we can imagine, that no matter how hard the obstacles in front of us are to overcome there will be people who will love and celebrate us through them even if it doesn’t always look like it at first.

The L word

Back in 2004, The L Word is the first show I remember seeing which main characters were lesbians, who were not part of the narrative to provide one element of diversity that would be eluded to once in a while. The representation this show allowed turned tables in my opinion, making a lot of us feel seen as people rather than tokens. We could take our power back, be and do whatever we want without needing approval.

It took elements we knew from TV shows but applied them to us, switched the perspectives and showed a sense of community, that you will have people like you around and things can change.

Young royals

Going against what you would expect from it at first, it is beautiful in its approach of emotional journeys, shows a lot without necessarily saying it all. It features very well the impact of peer and social pressure, the mental health toll and questions how to be authentically yourself in this context.

It is for me an important and refreshing take, representation for young people to see which is authentic in the way the characters are portrayed and remains relatable. This is often for me a difficult and thin line in LGBTQIA+ representation where it can quickly be too much, becoming unrealistic and feed more clichés or be not enough and feel like an afterthought. European shows like this definitely need more visibility!

RuPaul’s drag race

I think it would be difficult not to acknowledge what this show has done for LGBTQIA+ representation. Not only putting drag and the community in the front of the stage but also pushing it into the mainstream audience, being known and recognised by all.

Before this show, reality and competition shows was probably one of the last places where queer people would expect to see something familiar, to get to know candidates they could relate to. It is my opinion that this show created A LOT of bridges but also a lot of awareness. The stories shared viewed by millions, the culture transpiring, it opened doors to discussions that would have been harder to have and gave us something to root for.

SENS8

Not the first but one of the shows to combine sci-fi, mental health and growth journeys together in a beautiful and effective manner. Sens8 was inclusive, showed how bonds and support can come in ways you would never expect them to. It pushed forward the community and showed strong, healthy relationships that can be looked up to.

It played for me a big part in showing that we can have it all. Because a show stars LGBTQIA+ characters does not mean it should be it’s sole focus, we can be the heros of an overarching story, we can have a sci-fi show and be represented without having to make it niche.

Queer as folk

This show, like the L word is important for many reasons. The first one being how groundbreaking it was. The original eight-part series, launched in 1999, was adapted into the first hour-long American show to focus solely on the lives of LGBTQIA+ people. This was the first show I’ve ever seen on TV focusing on LGBTQIA+ characters, tackling issues that were lived but rarely talked about such as the struggle for marriage equality and homophobic attacks, and discrimination.

It was also breaking down stereotypes, putting the focus on good-natured and nice, funny characters who could be relatable rather than pre-made ideas. It changed perspectives and allowed us to envisage new things for ourselves.

What LGBTQIA+ shows inspired you and helped your mental health?

Let us know in the comments and let’s have a chat!

Remember that you are loved and seen all year round, our DMs are always open to everyone needing support, anyone just wanting to chat! You are beautiful the way are and no one has a right to tell you otherwise! Please join our network to get more involved and have more of these conversations with our community.

Published by Euro Youth Mental Health

I'm a champion for youth mental health - Co-Director of Euro Youth Mental Health - Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor - Mental Health Participation Expert - Facilitator & Podcaster - Youth Wellbeing giver.

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