We are in a queer media movement, but is increased visibility the answer to violence?

By George Johnson

This June marked the 17th celebration of “Pride Month,” a designation declared by Bill Clinton to recognize and observe the heritage and culture of LGBTQ people. As LGBTQ rights continue to be attacked politically, growth in pop culture and media is simultaneously surging in areas of journalism, television, Broadway, and the big screen, creating new narratives and shifting the conversation from a hetero focused lens to one more inclusive of what life actually looks like.

However, these two opposing trends lead one to question whether increased visibility and representation is only doing the beneficial work we presume it to be doing in the fight for LGBTQ existence.

Audra McDonald Makes History With Fifth Tony Win

On Sunday night, actress Audra McDonald, who many know from her stint on Shonda Rhimes’ television series, Private Practice, won her fifth Tony Award for her performance in Porgy and Bess (reimagined by MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient, Suzan-Lori Parks).

McDonald’s win on Sunday tied her with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris for most wins. McDonald is the first woman of color to accomplish this.

But something else makes McDonald’s win special: she has only appeared in 10 Broadway shows. That’s right. McDonald is batting .500. Her success is nearly unparalleled:

Invisible Man

Court Theater, the professional theater located on the University of Chicago’s campus, premiered Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man last month. I haven’t read the novel since high school and was ripped open all over again, seeing Ellison’s words acted out on stage. I was surprised to feel such a deep connection to the emotions experienced in the play in our modern time. To be confused about how to live out a racial identity, obligation to others in the same group, or to experience deep anger with those outside of the race is still existent today. However, the time that has passed since the time this novel was written would lead one to believe that the words would have some dissonance from today’s reality.