Cover image for Up from invisibility : lesbians, gay men, and the media in America
Up from invisibility : lesbians, gay men, and the media in America
Gross, Larry P., 1942-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xviii, 295 pages ; 24 cm.
Reading Level:
1510 Lexile.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
P94.5.G38 G76 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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A half century ago gay men and lesbians were all but invisible in the media and, in turn, popular culture. With the lesbian and gay liberation movement came a profoundly new sense of homosexual community and empowerment and the emergence of gay people onto the media's stage. And yet even as the mass media have been shifting the terms of our public conversation toward a greater acknowledgment of diversity, does the emerging "visibility" of gay men and women do justice to the complexity and variety of their experience? Or is gay identity manipulated and contrived by media that are unwilling--and perhaps unable--to fully comprehend and honor it?

While positive representations of gays and lesbians are a cautious step in the right direction, media expert Larry Gross argues that the entertainment and news media betray a lingering inability to break free from proscribed limitations in order to embrace the complex reality of gay identity. While noting major advances, like the opening of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookstore--the first gay bookstore in the country--or the rise of The Advocate from small newsletter to influential national paper, Gross takes the measure of somewhat more ambiguous milestones, like the first lesbian kiss on television or the first gay character in a newspaper comic strip.

Author Notes

Larry Gross is Sol Worth Professor of Communication at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of Contested Closets: The Politics and Ethics of Outing, editor of Image Ethics: The Moral Rights of Subjects in Photographs, Film, and Television and On the Margins of Art Worlds, and coeditor (with the late James Woods) of The Columbia Reader on Lesbians and Gay Men in Media, Society, and Politics.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this era of Ellen and Will and Grace, it's hard to remember that only half a century ago gays could not appear on screen unless they were killed or otherwise punished by the end of the film. Up from Invisibility: Lesbians, Gay Men, and the Media in America looks at the mass media's relationship to homosexuality from mid-century to the present day. Communications professor Larry Gross at the Annenberg School shows how Stonewall, the AIDS epidemic and the much-vaunted purchasing power of '90s "guppies" have influence the media representation of gays. ( Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Coverage of the Stonewall riot, the AIDS crisis, outing, and the media furor surrounding Ellen DeGeneres's coming out are just a few of the events touched on by Gross (communications, Univ. of Pennsylvania), coeditor of The Columbia Reader on Lesbians and Gay Men in Media, Society, and Politics. Gross considers how cultural, political, and commercial factors have influenced or been reflected in the portrayal of gay and lesbian people in the mass media during the last 50 years. In some cases, as in his extensive discussion of the New York Times, he observes how changes in key personnel can dramatically affect the coverage of gay and lesbian issues. Gross acknowledges progress from the time when gay characters could only be portrayed as victims or villains but also notes the continuing pervasiveness of stereotypes and the pressure to assimilate to the majority's norms in order to be represented. Filled with detailed examples, this scholarly study is engaging and readable. For all libraries. Debra Moore, Cerritos Coll., Norwalk, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Preface : Up from Invisibility
1 The Mediated Society
Mass Media and American Society
Television as the Mainstream
Sexual Minorities and the Media
Subversion and Resistance
2 Coming Out and Coming Together
The Homosexual in Midcentury America
Giving Voice to the Voiceless
Provoking Concern
The Voice Gets Louder
Coming Out in the Nation's Living Rooms
3 Stonewall and Beyond
Homo Nest Raided, Queen Bees Stinging Mad
Turning Their Condition into Politics
Expressing Outrage
Talking Back to the Media
4 At the Movies
A Queer Feeling Every Time I Look at You
"Show Me a Happy Homosexual and I'll Show You a Gay Corpse"
Friedkin Delivers Gay Corpses
Getting the Word Out
Gay Films for Straight Audiences
Universal or Particular?
5 Television Takes Over
New Medium, Old Message
No Sex, Please, We're Queer
6 AIDS and the Media
Rumors of a "Gay Cancer"
Circling the Wagons
Natural Squeamishness
Media Activism in a Crisis
7 Journalism's Closet Opens
Burying and Marrying
All the News Not Fit to Print
The Grey Lady Goes Gay
Coming Out in the Newsroom
8 Breaking the Code of Silence
Naming Names
Outing the Pentagon
Kinda Ask, Sorta Tell
9 Hollywood Under Pressure
AIDS Victims and Villains
A Kinder, Gentler Hollywood
Queering the Straight Text
10 Hollywood's Gay Nineties
"I feel pretty and witty and... Hey!"
Still Villainous After All These Years
Sad Young Men
Some of My Best Friends Are Celibate
11 Beyond Prime Time
Adam and Steve and Phil and Oprah
The Tongue-Tied Public Square
Getting Over the Rainbow
Locker-room Closets
12 Morning Papers, Afternoon Soaps
Coming Out in the Comics
You're the First Person I've Ever Told
13 Old Stories and New Technologies
The Good Parts
14 A Niche of Our Own
Movement to Market
Are We Being Served?
15 Facing the Future
Visibility and Its Discontents
Looking Backward
Somewhere There's a Place for Us