On March 3rd, Twitter was bombarded with LGBT related tweets in support of television equality. This activism comes after the death of multiple lesbian character on a popular television shows. The LGBT fans are fed up with fictional characters being treated as disposable, and being used for marketing tactics. LGBT characters are often underrepresented or misrepresented in the film industry. Now Twitter is a rising outlet for the community to express their frustration.
The main fight is for lesbian and bisexual women to be better represented on TV shows. “31% of lesbian or bisexual characters on American scripted TV shows between 1976-2016 ended up dead” (LGBT Fans Deserve Better). The LGBT community is fed up with the mishandling of fictional lesbian and bisexual characters. The community doesn’t just want their characters to be a small part in the development of a show’s plot. The community is asking for them to be shown as equals, and their relationships represented correctly. An alarming 10% of lesbian characters on TV get a ‘happy ending’ (LGBT Fans Deserve Better).
In outrage many have now turned to Twitter to express their disdain. It just so happened that with one show the community had reached its limit. The 100 is a post-apocalyptic science fiction show that airs on The CW Network. In episode 3×07 the beloved lesbian character, Lexa, was killed. With the death of Lexa, the list of dead lesbian/bisexual characters is up to 152 (LGBT Fans Deserve Better). Minutes after Lexa’s death Twitter was mobbed with the LGBT community’s rage. The 100 fans began a social media campaign to communicate the inequality they’re witnessing. The hashtag #LGBTFansDeserveBetter had more than 250,000 post on Twitter (Cooper). Aside from the hashtag the fandom also created trending phrases on Twitter. “LGBT fans deserve better” trended for 7 hours after the episode aired, and had 300,000 tweets mentioning that phrase. The Twitter activism didn’t stop after the episode aired it continued and grew.
After the episode aired the fandom continued with trending phrases, “Lexa Deserved Better” “Minorities are not disposable” and “Stop queerbating 2k16” were just a few of the trends after the episode aired. The LGBT fight for film equality has been going on for a long time, it just so happened that this show was the tipping point. After some research by the fans they found that the CW network has mishandled LGBT fictional character in many of their shows. The CW featured 13 different lesbian and bisexual characters over the network’s history. 54% of the 13 characters are dead, and 23% have had their lovers killed off (Bury tropes not us-The CW edition).
In 2014-2015, GLADD released a report on lesbian and bisexual character representation on television. The ABC Family and Fox were the only two networks to receive an excellent grade. The GLADD Network Responsibility Index Rating gave CW a grade of GOOD. Because at that time 45% of CW’s 274.5 hours were LGBT inclusive (Bury tropes not us-The CW edition). However, some of the characters mentioned in this report are now dead. There are now zero remaining LGBT relationships on the CW Network. All of the LGBT deaths where by murder or suicide. This made fans angrier because it seems like CW writers are choosing to kill these characters off.
Since many feel like writers are making the choice to kill off LGBT characters CW is being accused of queerbating. After The 100 episode aired the ratings took a dip, and the show’s writer lost 15,000 Twitter followers (blastr). The fandom is blaming the writer for utilizing social media to market the lesbian relationship, and then killing the character off. Queerbating is no longer acceptable to this community because it has happened too many times. A fan has even written an open letter to the show’s main writer that generated over 160 comments on her blog. The Network and writers weren’t expecting the reaction they got over Lexa’s death. It will be interesting to see how other networks will treat their LGBT characters in the future since this death created such a controversy.
This isn’t the first Twitter activism we’ve seen, and it certainly won’t be the last. Political campaigns use social media because it offers no start-up cost, and free community outreach. However, sometimes these campaigns aren’t taken seriously because they are taking place on the internet. The 100 fandom wanted to take it a step further to show the importance of this issue. The Trevor Project is a foundation created to help LGBTQ teens in need. The organization hopes to lower LGBTQ suicides by offering helplines, and chatrooms. The 100 fandom’s original goal on March 14th was to generate $45,000 to donate to the Trevor Project. The movement exceeded that, and has now raised over $100,000 dollars in the name of the Lexa character. Fans created the website LGBT Fans Deserve Better to highlight other shows that have LGBT characters present. This sight talks about the reason for outrage, and links viewers to the fundraiser. The website also made a video collecting 179 photos around the world to show how much support they are gaining for their movement.
Organizations like GLADD, LGBT Fans Deserve Better, and The Trevor Project will continue to advocate for greater diversity on television. These things won’t change unless talked about, and fought for. Twitter relies on the participation of its users, which is similar to these activism campaigns. These shows have huge fandoms, and now with the issue at hand they have come together for a cause. If social media activism wasn’t taken seriously before it should be now.