At the LA Gay & Lesbian Center gala, which raised $1 million for homeless LGBT youth, Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal made a call-to-action regarding the depiction of LGBT characters in film and television.
The event’s honoree explored the negative imagery seen in gay-centric films:
“Brokeback Mountain, Milk, Boys Don’t Cry, Philadelphia, The Hours, Gods and Monsters, The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Single Man, My Own Private Idaho, Cloud Atlas – in all these movies, the main character is murdered or martyred or commits suicide or just dies unhappily. And there are far more pernicious and dangerous images that confront gay kids and their parents: the lesbian murderer, the psychotic transvestite, the queen who is humiliated and sometimes tossed off a ship or a ledge. It’s a big joke. It still happens.”
But she also praised films that set a positive example of depicting gay characters:
“Of course, there are great images, too, like the family in The Kids Are All Right. The way the boy in Perks of Being a Wallflower and the middle-aged man in Hotel Marigold and the 75-year-old man in Beginners come out to a better, richer, more fulfilled life. It’s treated as a celebration.
And real credit has to be given to the filmmakers of ParaNorman, Chris Butler and Sam Fell, who had the first gay character in an animated movie, and he was the football hunk and it was totally incidental to the plot.”
She closed her speech with a challenge to the industry to do more:
“Now it’s time for all of us to take that step. Not every gay character needs to be defined by his or her sexuality. Can’t being gay just be one stitch in the fabric of someone’s life? Can’t we depict men and women who just so happen to be gay – perhaps a lawyer or soldier or business executive or scientist or engineer…
We need to create an atmosphere that encourages people to speak up, so we get this right.
How about next time, when any of us are reading a script and it says words like fag, or faggot – homo – dyke – take a pencil and just cross it out. Just don’t do it.
We can do better and we will do better. We have to. If we just think about that kid in North Dakota, or their parents, we might just do it a little differently.”
(Read her full speech here.)