from left to right: interACT Youth members Arti and Ryan; Faking It’s Carter Covington; interACT Executive Director Kimberly Zieselman and Youth Coordinator Emily Quinn
Really, interACT and Faking It had developed a partnership akin to a close friendship. It is this crucial relationship that provides a model for writers, studios, and show runners to create characters whose storylines are honest reflections of the experiences of marginalized identities.
This need for an increase in the inclusion of organizations is important because organizations are created and supported by the collective voices of their members, thus mitigating the risk of having a single voice speak on behalf of an entire community. Additionally, these organizations might empower the trans or queer actor, many of which have had to fight uphill battles alone.
interACT Youth proves a good example of this, especially as an organization which built itself from the ground up. We work to ensure that the voices of all our members have the space to be heard, and it is in this way that we have created a community-oriented organization. The intrinsic value we place on the voices of all our members wonderfully diversifies our movement, which ultimately contributed to the dimensionality of Lauren’s character.
Studios ought to take the initiative to include us if we as a society are ever to overcome the dissonance between the realities of our lived experiences and how they’re portrayed onscreen. The resources are out there, ready and excited to jump in and create positive representation. It’s all a matter of taking that next step.
Simultaneously, we must continue to fight to make our voices heard. This is not a call towards passivity: we certainly cannot sit and wait patiently for writers and producers to come knocking at our doors. That, frankly, would be unrealistic. However, there already exist well-established organizations that have the kind of pull that could push studios to include more marginalized identities.
GLAAD, for example, is a leader in the movement towards accurate representation and has collaborated with many networks to ensure that their shows do right by queer folk, though one might begin to wonder why we don’t see more channels reach out to GLAAD.
The goal should be authenticity, and indeed we see more and more of that with shows like Transparent and Orange is the New Black. Ultimately, I think that the intent of this form of representation is to avoid already well-established tropes that have been, frankly, toxic towards our communities.
Queer communities have been been combating this by creating our own art for decades. Certainly these are invaluable sources for us, but at the same time mainstream media is what many people, both straight and queer, have immediate access to. Simply because these pockets exist doesn’t mean that pop outlets should eschew our inclusion; after all, it is immensely empowering and gratifying to see narratives that one might identify with on screen.