The spiral of silence and cultivation theories both support the importance of positive lesbian portrayals on television, both for lesbian and heterosexual viewers. Throughout the history of lesbian representation in media, lesbian characters have been both under and misrepresented. This study examined five lesbian characters on recent and current television shows to demonstrate how their portrayals subvert the traditional lesbian representations in media. It is concluded that while Emily Fields, Santana Lopez, Sophie Webster, Emily Fitch, and Naomi Campbell's narratives fall victim to some negative tropes in representation, they are generally revolutionary and powerful storylines, thus increasing positive visibility, providing positive role models for lesbian youths, and helping with a "mainstreaming effect" leading to greater acceptance socially for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) youths.
Library of Congress Subject Headings
Lesbianism on television; Coming out (Sexual orientation)
Communication and Media Technologies (MS)
Department, Program, or Center
Department of Communication (CLA)
Carlino, Amanda M., "A Different Sort of Normal: Critical Analysis of Five Lesbian Characters’ Coming-out Narratives on Contemporary Television Shows" (2014). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
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