Fifteen years ago, ‘Dawson’s Creek’ gave us TV’s first ‘passionate’ gay kiss. How far have we come?
Huffington Post - 04/09/2015
According to Carole Bell, an assistant professor at Northeastern University who has done extensive research on gay representation in pop culture, simply seeing gay characters on the small screen can foster acceptance. In an interview with HuffPost, she explained research which substantiates this impact: “For people who didn’t have a lot of exposure previously, who didn’t have friends or family members that they knew of, watching shows with gay characters actually made a significant difference in prejudice reduction,” she said.
This is not so simple as the idea that exposure breeds acceptance. People make connections with characters in a way that mirrors real life relationships, a phenomenon called “parasocial contact.” “The idea is that TV viewers and other people consuming fictional entertainment can feel emotionally attached to the characters that they’re watching,” she explained. “Under certain conditions, when they do that, it will have a positive effect on the way they see a minority group.”