Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Queer 2017 Abstracts

Is Ellen DeGeneres a “DeGenerate?” How public support for same-sex marriage dictated news coverage of the TV’s first out lesbian • Cory Armstrong, University of Alabama; Jue Hou, Universtiy of Alabama; Kylie McLeod, University of Alabama • This study examines media treatment of Ellen DeGeneres over a 26-year period, focusing on how she served as a surrogate for the same-sex marriage debate during that time. The study suggests that coverage of DeGeneres followed a similar path to that of a protest group, challenging the status quo, and therefore, suffering critical and negative treatment from media. Findings indicated that even after common gender-related variables, such as female sources and mentions, were controlled, the major contributing variable was the level of public support for same-sex marriage. Implications for both protest-related literature and scholarship on public opinion were discussed.

Families in transition: News coverage of transgender lives and issues within a family context • Rhonda Gibson; Deborah Dwyer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, AEJMC Member • This study involves a two-part content analysis featuring both quantitative and qualitative/critical analysis of news coverage of transgender issues from a family context. All news articles (N=91) from The New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal from 2002-2016 that addressed transgender lives and issues within a specific family-related context were analyzed using the theoretical frameworks of social constructionism and framing. After examining the topics, sources, and frames, researchers concluded that news coverage has increased over time in terms of quantity and reliance on transgender sources to tell their own stories. However, consideration of issues of gender identity, gender-role negotiation, and family structure remain superficial.

The Bathroom Boogeyman: A Qualitative Analysis of How the Houston Chronicle Framed the Equal Rights Ordinance • Shane Graber • In 2015, Houston, Texas voters defeated a bill that would have expanded civil rights to previously unprotected groups, including transgender people. Using a framing analysis, this paper investigates how the city’s daily newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, covered the debate over the bill. As such, this study identified four main news frames: (a) an LGBT frame; (b) a Red Tape frame; (c) a Religious Freedom frame; and (d) a Bathroom Boogeyman frame. Together they aligned to form a daunting challenge to an effort to protect one of society’s most vulnerable groups: the transgender community.

‘It’s like birth control for HIV’: Communication and stigma for gay men on PrEP • Joseph Schwartz; Josh Grimm • This study examines the role of communication during the process of adopting pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), focusing on how they learned about PrEP, how they discussed adoption with healthcare providers, and encountering stigma on social networks. Findings showed that participants rarely learned about PrEP from traditional news outlets, commonly experienced stigmatization by their healthcare providers, and encountered stigma in a variety of forms online. Given these results, strategies are suggested for improving gay men’s healthcare.

Performing the Host: A Textual Analysis of Lesbian Representation in The Ellen DeGeneres Show • Jasmina Lee • Ellen DeGeneres made headlines when she publicly came out on television in 1998, but her career quickly toppled under the weight of the heterosexual-dominated industry. Today, Ellen celebrates her enduring yet wholly unanticipated comeback as the lead of the longtime running daytime talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show. By analyzing the show’s visual content and written material, this paper argues that the show appeals to its target audience of women and children in order to maintain the popularity and positive regard of its host both on and off the air. It concludes with the assertion that although the show is often criticized and largely heteronormative in its representation of its host’s identity, it ultimately serves as a vehicle for positive social change.

How Narrative Focus of Mediated Homosexual-Heterosexual Intergroup Conflict Affects Prejudice Reduction: A Priming Approach • Minjie Li, Louisiana State University • Intergroup attitude change can occur when people are exposed to media depiction of outgroup members. However, there is little reach on how media depiction of the group conflict between ingroup and outgroup characters might influence people’s intergroup attitudes. The present study examines how television narrative focus of homosexual-heterosexual intergroup conflict primes people’s implicit and explicit attitudes towards the gay outgroup, attitudes towards same-sex family, and social dominance orientation. The findings demonstrate that the attitudes towards the gay outgroup are different from the ones towards gay marriage after exposure. Attitudes towards gay people and social dominance orientation varied depending on the narrative focus.

“You gay, bro?”: Representing the adolescent coming out narrative in The Real O’Neals • Miles Sari, Washington State University • Through the lens of rhetorical narrative theory, this paper will examine the representation of the coming out narrative of 16-year-old Kenny O’Neal, the main character in the ABC sitcom, The Real O’Neals. In particular, this paper will consider the ways in which the thirteen episodes of the first season — under the guise of authenticity — construct queer youth identity and culture, especially in relation to class, race, and gender. Additionally, this paper will offer a critique of how such representation frames a problematic, palatable narrative of the adolescent coming out experience that trivializes the struggles of queer youth to find community and acceptance in a heteronormative society. To situate this mediation of the adolescent coming out narrative within a broader cultural context, this paper will also analyze the discourses with which various news media have critiqued the show’s representation of queer subjectivity on major cable network television.

The “Dangle” Angle: Examining Incivility in Online Discourse About Transgender Rights • Kelsey Whipple, University of Texas at Austin • This study gauges incivility in online discourse and the factors that contribute to it through a content analysis and textual analysis of comments published underneath articles about transgender rights, an important and polarizing political issue. Results uncovered an overwhelming rate of incivility in the comments, with clear ties between incivility and quotes of transgender people, among other factors. This study contributes to research about incivility, deliberation and the public perception of the trans community.


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