The 2000-era has been a momentous time for LGBT policy shifts. This dissertation is an interdisciplinary project on these policy changes in the areas of military service, marriage rights, and bullying in schools within the context of post-gay television. I take as a starting point that post-gay politics assumes that civil rights for gays and lesbians have been achieved and continued activism is no longer needed. Since the 1990s post-gay politics has gained currency within important modalities of discourse (news media, television, print media). I investigate a cluster of television shows in which post-gay themes suggest that equality for gay and lesbian individuals has been achieved. Drawing from media studies, feminist studies, critical race studies, queer theory, and cultural studies, this dissertation examines the television shows Army Wives (Lifetime), Modern Family (ABC), and Glee (Fox) as case studies for theorizing the ways in which media facilitates the emergence of post-gay discourse. It does so by situating these shows within the context of, on the one hand, government hearings and documents and Supreme Court decisions, and, on the other hand, the industrial and popular discourse surrounding these TV programs. Post-gay television is often comprised of conservative and assimilationist political values such as the desire for gays and lesbians to openly serve in the U.S. military, same-sex marriage, and "equality"� based initiatives to eradicate bullying in schools. These initiatives often mask structural issues such as the continued prevalence of homophobia in the U.S. Military, the assimilationist qualities of same-sex marriage, as well as the enforcement of heteronormativity and gender policing common in U.S. high schools. These series do not simply represent LGBT lives on screen; they also participate in fundraising and public relations efforts for issues like marriage equality. Following the call to move beyond the politics of representation, my dissertation provides a critical historical and contextual perspective on the way in which the implementation and repeal of policy legislation is productive of what I am calling the politics of norms. It also considers how these policy changes and their treatment on television are informed by post-gay discourse.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June 2015. Major: Communication Studies. Advisor: Laurie Ouellette. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 172 pages.
Post-Gay Television: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," Marriage, and Bullying On and Off Screen.
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