GLAAD Honors Honey Boo Boo’s Uncle for Expanding LGBT Representation
“Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” the reality television show about a pageant girl and her family in rural Georgia, opened up discussions about privacy, class, and more recently, sexuality. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) honored an episode of the show with a GLAAD Media Award nomination for its portrayal of Lee “Uncle Poodle” Thompson, who is gay and adored by his family. Thompson came out as HIV positive and said he hopes to create his own show about “being a gay man in the south.”
Opinions may vary on what “Honey Boo Boo”'s success says about American culture, but few can disagree that the show’s infamy expands possibilities for the LGBT community media representation and possibly their pursuit of civil and human rights.
Nine U.S. states and Washington, D.C. legalized same-sex marriage. Maryland, Washington and Maine voted for legalization in November, and Rhode Islanders hope to pass a marriage equality bill this session.
Thompson married his partner last year, and remarkably in the face of the majority of southern states with anti-equality laws written into their constitutions. He reminded us that gay people are everywhere, not just in slick clubs and hip cities, but also in Walmarts and pickup trucks.
“We don’t often see media images about LGBT people living in the rural south,” GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro told Campus Progress. “This episode sparked numerous entertainment and mainstream media outlets to talk about the topic.”
Realistic depictions, rather than caricatures, help humanize LGBTQ individuals. The power of U.S. media across the globe may prove particularly important as some countries ramp up anti-gay agendas. In December, a Russian man kissed his boyfriend in protest in front of the parliament, which landed him a fine and jail time. Violence ended another kiss-in this week, where participants protested a bill that will outlaw giving “propaganda,” or information about LGBT identities, to minors.
Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of Campaign for Southern Equality, says television shows featuring LGBT characters reflect a growing acknowledgment and acceptance of LGBT people as part of U.S. culture.
"Media creates an interesting form in which people can engage with those stories in perhaps a less charged, less pressurized way," Beach-Ferrara told Campus Progress. Television characters as varied as the members found in the LGBT community affirms the existence of those individuals and their right to exist. In a culture of extremes that insists all self-proclaimed rednecks marry women, Thompson offered an alternate narrative, one of the 99 percent of people overlooked by politics.
Molly Savard is a reporter for Campus Progress. You can follow her on Twitter @mollicules.
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