Textual orientation

Queer female fandom online

Authored by: Julie Levin Russo

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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At the end of 2011, an editorial column on the pop culture blog http://AfterEllen.com posed the question: “Does lesbian subtext still matter?” (Hogan 2012). AfterEllen—named in tribute to the 1997 milestone when both US comedian Ellen DeGeneres and her eponymous television sitcom character came out (Ellen, ABC 1994–8)—is a website that covers lesbian and bisexual women and characters in TV, film, entertainment, and independent media. This article exemplifies new questions facing LGBTQ audiences in the era of gay representation on mainstream television. In her book All the Rage, Susanna Danuta Walters chronicles the contradictions of what a 1995 Entertainment Weekly cover story famously called the “gay 90s,” writing that while “visibility has indeed opened up public awareness and an appreciation of gay and lesbian rights, it has also circumscribed those rights into categories that may themselves become new kinds of ‘closets’” (2003: 18). In the ensuing decade, the number and range of LGBTQ characters and figures in the mass media in the US has continued to grow, and so has the debate about the politics of representation.

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