May I remind the media that we LGBT people live in every other corner of America. (Hey, don’t take my word for it: Take the U.S. Census’ word.)
So what’s wrong with using San Francisco as the pivotal center of the gay world in the vision of news directors?
First and foremost, San Francisco — as San Franciscans will tell you — is not a typical city. It is among the most left-leaning cities in the nation. In my book, that’s a plus, but not for a majority of the nation. And the political base, gay or otherwise, does not represent most other people’s political views around the nation. If that were not enough, the right wing has consistently linked our community with San Francisco ... and if, like me, you note the tricks of media and political manipulation, you noted the way it was done. They used every stereotype video they could find: men in underwear, drag queens, loving same-sex couples kissing each other.
This is nothing new. In 1984, when the Democrats had their convention in San Francisco, the city’s LGBT community decided a march would be a great way to show off their community and support the LGBT delegates, of which I was one. They did something very unusual for that city, specifically mentioning attire in the flyers. At the march, I only saw one stereotyped figure: a guy dressed as a fairy on roller skates. That image was the one used that evening on the ABC evening news. One stereotype among thousands of people and they used that one.
Unfortunately a great city, San Francisco, has become that image to most Americans who either have never been to that delightful city or don’t know many LGBT people.
That report, which was meant to show LGBT political power, could have been shot or duplicated in almost any other major American city. In fact, the report meant to show how the LGBT community has gained political knowledge would have been better exemplified from another city where LGBT people are in proportion to the population, not a larger segment as in San Francisco.
To win the hearts and minds we need to gain equality, all we have to do is allow the public to know us for who we really are. In a sense, San Francisco is our national gay ghetto. Would other groups allow themselves to be portrayed by their ghettos?
Mark Segal, PGN publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. He can be reached at email@example.com.