The Coverage of LGBTQ community in the Georgian TV shows
Supervisor: Ekaterine Basilaia
Table of Contents
Introduction - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 3
Literature Review - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 5
Framing - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 6
Framing of LGBTQ Individuals in Media - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8
LGBTQ community in Georgia and the Georgian media - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 8
Method - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 12
Findings - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 14
Conclusion - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 19
For the past several decades sexual minorities in Georgia have been trying to voice their concerns, become visible and enjoy the fundamental human rights. Getting accepted in the Georgian society is not an easy battle, because of the predominantly negative attitudes of the large part of the society toward LGBTQ community. The main reason for such attitudes can be attributed to conservative mentality of the Georgian population, their beliefs and values. Speaking from the standpoint of traditional “morale,” opponents of LGBTQ people maintain that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and queer individuals are not part of the normal and decent society. Melashvili (2012) points out that such attitudes take roots in specific perception of the nation. According to it, the nation or state “has its own written or unwritten moral laws and order that should be obeyed by everybody, and the homosexuals are depicted as the violators of this order.” (Melashvili, 2012:64)
The research about the values of different generations showed that the Georgian Orthodox Church receives the biggest trust (86.6%) from Georgian people. (Sumbadze, 2012) Thus, it maintains strong control over the vast majority of Orthodox Christians in the society. From the standpoint of the church there are strictly defined requirements and expectations from “real man” and “real woman” and LGBT people are the ones who violate these normative boundaries. (Melashvili, 2012) Therefore the church claims that LGBTQ people should stay invisible in order not to corrupt the “normal” part of the society.
The lack of acceptance of LGBTQ people is partly due to the coverage of the media. Gross (2002) states that in our cultural and political system are the conceptions of masculinity and femininity and the “natural” and “moral” attributes and responsibilities of men and women. The mass media plays an important role in shaping attitudes about sexual minorities. Hence, it is the media’s responsibility to facilitate the process of forming neutral or positive attitudes toward marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ community. Media’s role in educating the society about marginalizing groups and their problems is more important in transitional, post-soviet societies, in which mentalities are fossilized and is a great fear of losing the identity. Aghdgomelashvili (2012) notes that even the culturally acceptable sexuality was strictly regulated in the soviet period the discussion on “different” sexual behaviour/identity was particularly controlled.
This paper aims to analyze the Georgian TV shows coverage of the LGBTQ community and whose and what portrayals prevail while covering it. The importance of the research derives from the lack of academic research about the coverage of the LGBTQ issues in the post-soviet countries. It will reflect once again the necessity of exploring and understanding the media’s role in shaping and enhancing people’s positive attitude toward LGBTQ people.
The following, chapter II reviews the literature relevant to the coverage of LGBTQ issues and suggests the framework of the study. Chapter III examines the method employed for the study. Chapter IV provides the findings of the research as well as the assessment of media experts on the Georgian media coverage about LGBTQ community. The final, chapter V includes the conclusion of the research.
Literature review examines the framing literature on the media coverage of LGBTQ community and the framing theory, which is the foundation of this study.
Herek (2007) points out that many societies are aware of the hostile stereotypes routinely attached to sexual minorities. Despite this, since sexual minorities often remain invisible many heterosexuals are unlikely to critically examine their own sexual prejudice and its underlying assumptions. (Herek, 2007)
Gamson (2002) notes that sexual minorities differ from the “traditional” racial and ethnic minorities and they are more like “fringe” political or religious groups. Lesbians and gay men are a self-identified minority, they are rarely born into minority communities in which parents or siblings share their minority status. Gamson (2002) states that people who considered as sexual minorities are defined by their deviation from a norm and the norm is white, male, heterosexual and (in most western societies) Christian. Existence of sexual minorities constitute a threat to the “natural” order of things, and they are always seen as controversial by the mass media. (Gamson, 2002) “Lesbian and gay men are usually ignored; but when we do appear, it is in narrowly, negatively stereotyped roles that support the “natural” order.” (Gamson, 2002:91)
Netzley (2010) examined how and how often homosexual characters were represented in entertainment programs in 2005-2006. In her work she found that characters of the different programs mainly are heterosexuals or people whose sexual orientation is not known. Only 5.6% were gay and 1.6% were lesbian (characters represented are very small percentage). A greater percentage of gay characters (43.8%) were depicted in sexual situations, compared to 16.5% of straight characters. The scholar also concludes that in 1940s/1950s gays were depicted more often in ridiculous situations on TV, and, in general, they were not taken seriously by other characters. In later years, gay characters are more reflected often featured as murderers or murder victims in entertainment programs. (Netzley, 2010)
Gamson (1998) examines daytime talk shows in the USA where non-conforming genders and sexualities have been public. He states that talk-shows are money-making machines, and they usually try to obtain the attention of the large audience by providing them what they are interested in and not what is more important to know. When talk-shows have discovered the profitable appeal of younger, less educated, more boisterous guest they try to follow this approach for gaining more attention of viewers. In talk-shows, many questions asked of guests are connected with their private, scandalous side of life. Gamson (1998) refers to Harry Taylor’s words (Taylor was one of the guests of the American show “Tempest”) that it was an issue [LGBT] that should have been talked about in privacy of a psychiatrist’s or psychologist’s office and not on national television, where someone was playing with the emotions to make money and rating. The press already looks at LGBT as freaks, and the more they are participating in these kinds of shows, the worse it is for their movement. (Gamson, 1998)
Tereskinas (2001) states that Lithuanian media maintains discrimination against ethnic and sexual minorities and have one-sided stereotypical representations which is one of the reasons for their marginalization. An analysis of evening news programs and commercial networks showed that the media generally pays insufficient attention to the problems suffered by sexual minorities. But if they are presented in TV programs are mostly described as outcast and perverts. TV entertainment programs emphasize the comic and ridiculous sides of the character.
Hennessy (1994) points out that affirmative images of lesbians and gays in the mainstream media can give them the place in society, because these groups lack validation from the dominant culture. He argues that increasing the representation of gays and lesbians is also linked to capitalist and marketing purposes. She states that intensified marketing of lesbian images does not mean growing acceptance of homosexuality but capitalism’s desire to appropriate gay “styles” for mainstream audiences. Therefore, Hennessy (1994) concludes that visibility in commodity culture is a limited victory for gays, because they are welcome to be visible as consumer subjects but not as social subjects.
The cultural studies of media, which were largely marginalized until the 1980s, took off in the American mass communication scholarship by the end of the 20th century (Baron, Stanley & Dennis, 2012). The framing theory developed in the late 20th century, and drew from the early cultural research. This theory owes much to the sociologist Erving Goffman (1974), who established used the term “frame” to denote the expectations we have of certain social situations. According to the theory, an individual’s actions are determined by the experience. A person has the ability to move from one frame to another and adjust them to the situation correctly.
Goffman, in his ground-breaking books “Forms of Talk” (1981) and “Gender Advertisements” (1979), discusses how the media can influence society with frames and how the representation of women in ads can enhance the social expectations about females in negative ways. These influences are difficult notice but eventually gain the negative consequences. The theory is useful in explaining how media can impose and reinforce dominant frames, and, through them, the dominant public culture (Baron, Stanley & Dennis, 2012).
Gitlin (1980) and Tuchman (1978), who developed the framing theory based on Goffman’s ideas, pointed out how news coverage of politically radical groups can influence their fate. The way journalists are presenting these groups lead to the marginalization of their activities and their wrong perception.
Gamson (1989) noted that some individuals or groups have the abilities to form the social world by propagating frames, which are supportive of their interests. These frames are entering the contest with frames pushed by opposing groups. Those frames that gain dominance in the society will form the basis of the society’s understanding of the group, its interests and goals.
Bennett (2005) underlines the fact that the elites try to use the media for covering the reality to conform with their own interests and divert the public opinion from other issues. This strategy obscures reality for ordinary people and prevents them from perceiving the events or things as they really are. Bennett used the term “news reality frames” to denote this phenomenon.
An interesting side of the framing theory is presented by James Carey (1989). Carey (1989) stated that there is the consent between journalists and audience. Journalists are reinforcing the status quo through information they provide. As to the viewers, they need reassurance that their status quo will be endured and social world would stay as it has always before.
Bryant and Oliver (2008) notes that journalists are working within the culture of their society and will therefore rely unconsciously on commonly shared frames. The scholars (2008) point out five aspects, that are often suggested in media researches, how journalists frame a given issue: larger societal norms and values, organizational pressures and constraints, external pressures from interest groups and other policy makers, professional routines, and ideological or political orientations of journalists.
Framing of LGBTQ individuals in media
Based on the literature review we can outline several frames that are widely applied to the sexual minorities in the media of different societies. As Netzley (2010) points out in 1940s/50s sexual minorities were depicted in comical situations and in later years they often were featured as murderers or murder victims in entertainment programs. Tereskinas (2001) highlights the fact that entertainment programs emphasize the ridiculous sides of the sexual minorities and are presented as outcast and perverts. Gamson (2002) points out that sexual minorities are shown as weak, silly, or evil and corrupt.
Nardi (1997) points out that mass media excludes some issues about homosexuality due to the negative public attitudes. Ragusa (2005) states that content in the New York Times advertising business news creating “shock value”. Highlighting only certain issues, providing limited portrayals of LGBT people by mass media. It should be perceived as an important fact because of the potential of mass media to influence public opinions. (Croteau & Hoynes, 2000)
Lee et al. (2013) examine newspapers framing of sexual minorities in coverage of the Gay Games. They highlight the fact that identity and optimism were the most frequent presented frames in newspapers in the last three decades and “it is consistent with the idea that newspaper coverage may play a meaningful role in influencing people’s social acceptance of LGBT individuals. (Lee et al, 2013:21) It promotes increasing of positive views of gay and lesbians, for example, growing acceptance of marriage equality is noticeable in public opinion polls. (Harms, 2011)
LGBTQ community in Georgia and the Georgian media
According to the research about the situation of LGBTQ people in Georgia conducted by “Women’s Initiatives Supporting Group” in 2012, 89% of LGBT people are the victims of psychological and 32% of physical violence at least once in last two years. 87% hide their orientation and 86% are trying to introduce themselves as different people at work. (www.17maisi.org)
Furthermore, According to the Caucasus Barometer of the Caucasus Research Resource Center (CRRC) implemented in 2011, 88% of respondents consider that homosexuality can never be justified. (caucasusbarometer.org) Also, homosexuals were named as the least desirable people to have as neighbours in the research “Generations and Values.” (Sumbadze, 2012) Therefore, LGBTQ people in most cases conceal their identity not only for protecting themselves from the direct aggression but they search for the spaces where they do not expect discrimination. Rekhviashvili (2013) states that non-heterosexual people often choose the profession where their behaviors are tolerated from the normative society (stereotypically, a designer’s non-normative actions are not severely judged). Rekhviashvili (2013) conventionally calls it “the trap of dilemmas and compromises.”
Aghdgomelashvili (2012) sums up the coverage of LGBT issues in Georgian media from 1900-ies to 2011 stating that Georgian media started to openly speak about the homosexuality by the end of 1990-ies. For the first time the term homosexual appeared in Georgian media in connection with AIDS and prostitution topics. Until 1998, the word “homosexual” was mostly mentioned only in the articles about the foreign show business representatives and mainly either with neutral attitudes or slight irony. After 1998, slowly begins transformation of homosexuals from “stranger” to “our”, but “diseased”, “socially deviated”, “sinner” etc. In 1998-2003 politicians started linking the homosexuality to the opponents having the western, liberal values.
Aghdgomelashvili (2012) notes that in 2005-2006 the articles about homosexuality moved from the front pages of the serious editions to the pages of yellow press. In accordance with 2006 monitoring, 65% of the articles were negative, while 35% – neutral. In 2007 percentage of negative articles increased to 86%, positive – 21%, while neutral articles reduced to 4%. Such increase of the number of negative/positive assessments might be attributed to the increased visibility of LGBT group. The approach of the Georgian media to this topic is not drastically different during the years of 2008-2011 – positive varies between 6 and 8%, neutral – 16-22%, and negative – 60-70%. (Aghdgomelashvili, 2012)
Aghdgomelashvili (2015) states that in the last decade homophobic hate speech is very much politicised in Georgia, especially during elections and it is frequent to accuse political opponents of aiding deviants. The author says that “the soviet myth that homosexuality is a Western phenomenon still is very much alive. This makes it possible to link homosexuality to Western, liberal values and to political groups attached to such values.” (Aghdgomelasvili, 2015:13)
The latest media studies confirm that negative attitude is comparably replaced by the neutral language. (Jalaghonia, 2016) Despite this, we still listen to not only hate speech from some journalists or guests but selective approach from the media toward non-heterosexual people. The media frequently uses the term “LGBT” incorrectly, as a diminutive term used for labeling people. According to the research of Media Development Fund (2013), Georgia’s leader televisions – Rustavi 2, Imedi, and 9th Channel - used the term “LGBT” and “sexual minorities” for describing members of the anti-discrimination demonstration of the 17 May, 2012. This is the violation of professional standards, because sexual orientation of an individual as his/her religion, ethnicity or political affiliation is his/her identification field. The program “In the Night Studio” on Obiektivi TV was getting the calls only by those viewers, who had very negative attitude toward the LGBTQ people. Furthermore, the opinions of the viewers and the anchors or the respondents were the same. The presenter has violated the basic rule of professionalism – not to allow expressing homophobic views, which can damage the impartiality of the program. It is also unacceptable to invite only one side about the actual issue and use it for attacking the side that is not the participant in the program. (Media Development Fund, 2013)
According to the media monitoring implemented in 2016 there were totally 868 expressions of hate speech from which 454 (52%) is connected to homophobia. Hate speech of public figures in the mainstream media is due to illustrate the problem itself but there are several media outlets that are the source of homophobia because of their editorial policy as well as the space where hate speech is freely allowed (the most distinctive examples are the newspaper “Asaval-dasavali” and the online platform Geworld.ge). Thus, according to this data the biggest source of homophobia is itself the media (152) and political parties (139). Then comes members of society, public organizations, clerics etc. (Media Development Foundation, 2016)
Based on the review of the researches on the coverage of LGBTQ individuals, the study aims to answer the following research question:
RQ1: How are LGBTQ individuals framed in Georgian TV shows?
Due to the lack of positive and affirmative images of LGBTQ individuals in the media we hypothesize:
H1: Sexual minorities are commonly represented in ridiculous and embarrassing situations in Georgian TV shows.
Due to the fact that we want to explore the reasons for the limited frames of LGBTQ people as well we will interview the media experts to complete the results of our research by providing the voices. Thus we ask the question:
RQ2: What are the reasons for the Georgian media’s approach towards LGBTQ community?
To explore the main frames about LGBTQ community, this paper aims to employ qualitative content analysis. This approach is the right choice as we want to explore the frames, do their analysis and determine what kind of effect it has on the Georgian LGBTQ community.
Sampling procedure. For the fulfillment of the purpose of the research we select and observe three main Georgian TV channels – Imedi TV, Rustavi 2 and Channel 1. We will focus on the talk-shows as “100°C” (2010 – 2012, Imedi TV), “Skhva Rakursi” (“Another Angle”) (2014 – present, Imedi TV), “Nanuka Jorjoliani’s show” (2009 – 2012, Imedi TV; 2013 – present, Rustavi 2) and Profile (2007 – 2009, TV Channel “Mze” (“Sun”); 2009 – present, Rustavi 2). All the programs are weekly entertainment talk-shows. Since we include the coverage of 2010 - 2017 years we examine online database of Georgian television broadcasting archive and other Internet resources.
Measures. The study applied deductive and inductive approaches to determine main frames used in relation to the LGBTQ community in the media. On the other hand, we observed the approach of the Georgian broadcast, online and print media toward the sexual minorities by monitoring media coverages appearing across different media in the past few months. Thus, we were guided by the already existing theory and studies about LGBTQ individuals framing as well as our own empirical observation to point out several frames that might be frequently used by the Georgian broadcast media for sexual minorities. The following frames are supported by the frames found in several studies as Gamson (2002), Ragusa (2005) Netzley (2010) and Lee et al. (2013). These frames include:
(a) Shocking – Under shocking frame we consider LGBTQ individuals who are visually too different from what society expects from their gender. The frame concerns mainly transgender or transvestite people who declare that they are women or men but their visual (dress up, hairstyle, make up etc.) distinctly contradicts what are expected from their biological genders.
(b) Deviant – under the deviant frame we consider LGBTQ individuals whose behaviours do not respond socially accepted standards and norms. For example, a man who is more feminine or vice versa a woman who is more masculine than it is accepted by society. Sexual minorities who do not share the main values of conservative society and have their own lifestyle.
(c) Pervert – Under pervert frame we examine sexual minorities who are presented by the media as sex workers, people who have many partners mainly for financial benefit or some other reasons.
(d) Dangerous – LGBTQ individuals who are framed as dangerous for society. People who are considered as ones who might have a direct or indirect influence on other people and inspire them to become gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual or queer. Also, individuals who might harm people in other ways.
(e) Conflict – the frame is applied by the program when there is the confrontation among sexual minorities or LGBTQ individuals and other guests.
(f) Stranger – under the stranger frame are considered LGBTQ individuals that are depicted by the journalists not as part of the real, “our” world but individuals who belong to the different, “non-heterosexuals” world.
Due to the fact that an individual’s sexual orientation is his/her identification field we will consider people as LGBTQ individuals who consider themselves as sexual minorities and not based on our assumptions.
To explore what are the reasons for the Georgian media’s approach towards LGBTQ community and what would be the best practice for impeding marginalization of sexual minorities we will interview media experts.
Data analysis. On the data analysis stage through content analysis of the qualitative data dominant frames of sexual minorities will be summed up and analysed whether our research question and the hypothesis are supported. The most framed members of LGBTQ community will be also identified.
While examining the mainstream media to find the frames for LGBTQ individuals the programs using these frames are mainly entertainment talk-shows. Mostly framed members of LGBTQ community are transgender women. Gay men are rarely depicted in these programs while transgender men, lesbians, bisexuals, queer people are in fact ignored. The frame mostly found through observation and analysis of the TV shows is “shocking”, that is followed by “conflict”, “deviant”, “stranger”, “pervert” and “dangerous”.
One of the topics of the talk-show “100°C” is how sexual minorities live in Georgia. The show itself is featured with the coverage the issues in the sensational way and is orientated on the scandalous elements. It is announced by the host himself when he declares several times that it is “the hottest talk-show”. The guests from sexual minorities are a gay man and two transgender women. The gay man is a stylist as a profession, extravagant belly dancer as well as feminine. One of the transgender women – Kesaria is invited because she takes part in the erotic film. She declares that she is the only one transgender woman in Georgia and other transgenders are only self-proclaimed ones. In response to that, the host invites another transgender woman – Sabi. It is clear that they are already in conflict with each other and start quarreling. Kesaria accuses Sabi that she is a liar and not real transgender, a gay man joins to the quarrel, he also thinks Sabi is transvestite not transgender and “pederast”. Sabi answers him that she is not interested in the opinion of “a wicked, unmarried man”. Furthermore, after Kesaria says that Sabi calls him permanently and scolds her the host asks to listen to the record of their conversation that actually does not say much about their conflict. Beside the frames that are used for characterising sexual minorities in the talk-show we see the contradiction inside LGBTQ community.
The frames employed by the journalist to the LGBTQ guests in the program are “deviant”, “shocking” and “pervert”. One of the frames for the gay man is “deviant” as he has an extravagant style, is a belly dancer and feminine. He is framed as “pervert” as well since he declares that he had many partners that is a perversion for conservative society. In the view of the fact that transgender women’s behaviours are different from the behaviours expected from their biological gender the frame “deviant” is also appropriate for them. Another frame for transgender women is “shocking” while all two transgender women wear women clothes, hairstyle, make-up etc. The frame “pervert” is used for one transgender woman – Kesaria as well. Kesaria takes part in the film of erotic scenes that is also not moral for conservative society.
Confronting of the guests, mocking each other, listening to the record containing two transgender women’s “quarrel” creates the evidence to see “conflict” frame as well.
The talk-show “Skhva Rakursi” (“Another Angle”) sets one of the examples of “conflict” frame for sexual minority. Its guests in one program are a transgender woman who took part in the women’s beauty contest, the organizer of the contest and one of the jury members. The transgender woman accuses them of deceiving her, that the representatives of the contest persuaded her to participate in it to gain the ratings with the help of a scandalous participant. She declared that back then she was forced to refuse to continue participating in the contest due to the threats she received.
The host of “Nanuka Jorjoliani’s show” invites the transgender woman. Since the guest’s lifestyle is not significantly different from the accepted lifestyle it is not perceived as a “perversion”, the program content itself is not regarded or perceived as scandalous. In this we see the frame shocking due to her femininity, dress up style, extravagance, make up etc.
The program is interesting considering one fact. One of the questions the anchor asks her is the following: “We, women are envious of each other and how is it in your case?” This makes the viewers think that the guest – transgender woman belongs to another group i.e. “transgenders”, they might not be jealous of another women but only of transgenders. Here we notice the attitude of Georgian society whereas LGBTQ individuals are seen as strangers as others. Thus, another frame applied to the transgender guest is “stranger”.
Connecting of transgender individuals to the other, “transgenders” world is interestingly repeated in the talk-show “Skhva Rakursi” (“Another Angle”). The host of the show invites the transgender woman and sits her in the front of 15 other guests in order them to ask her questions. The perception of her by the guests as “stranger” is well expressed by one of the guest: “as soon as the show’s “special” character went in the studio we got a little shock, and watch her as “something”. This is our mentality.”
In the same program we see the journalist applying a “dangerous” frame” as well when one of the guests tells the transgender: “If someone is not similar to you but sees you and decides to follow you, he/she will be lost, right?” Here it is noticeable how she is perceived as someone who can inspire others to change the orientation, therefore, she is dangerous for some people.
“Skhva Rakursi” (“Another Angle”) is almost always orientated on scandalous features of the programs. One of the evidence of it is the fact how guests are selected to take part in the show. The guests almost always are radically confronted to one another and issues about LGBTQ people are not exception. One of the programs’ topic is “What happened on 17 May?” Discussion is conducted around the question whether the controversy on 17 May was caused by the provocation from LGBTQ community. The guests were sexual minorities themselves, an LGBTQ rights defender and the guests with conservative attitudes toward sexual minorities. Additionally, two transgender women were attending the show with the rest audience. The quarrel started between the guests who have radically negative attitude toward sexual minorities and one of these transgender women. During the quarrel the transgender woman suggests the opponent guest to compare their body and see who is a better woman. Because there is a confrontation between the guests “conflict” frame is visible. Another used frame is “shocking” toward the transgender woman not only because she was wearing female clothes but also because the dress up – the bra with the short vest and shorts that is perceived as provocative. The same guest has the quarrel with a gay man whose frame is considered as “deviant” due to his femininity.
In another program of “Skhva Rakursi” (“Another Angle”) “conflict” frame was repeated while the contradiction between another transgender woman and one of the artists. They participated in the same erotic film. The conflict between them already existed as they recalled themselves their previous confrontations. The argument contained offensive comments from the both sides. The artist tells that she does not knows how to address her as a man or woman because she is a bigender for her on which transgender responds that she prefer to be a bigender than the woman like her.
Another guest of “Skhva Rakursi” (“Another Angle”) is a transgender woman who, as the host announces, is memorable for her unpleasant scandals. The guest was detained once under the criminal charges for fraud at the age of 17. She received administrative penalties for several times for different crimes. Two frames are applied in the program – “dangerous” and “shocking”. Since she was detained for several times, the stories about her criminal cases show her as a dangerous person for the society. The frame “shocking” is visible not only because she wears women’s clothes but because the host’s request her to go out and come in as a man. Throughout the interview the audience watches the guest in the women’s clothes and make-up but at the end of the program the same guest appears in the man’s appearance. The contrast between the man and woman’s visual reinforces “shocking” frame.
To explore the Georgian media’s approach towards LGBTQ individuals and its reasons we interviewed two media experts – Nata Dzvelishvili, the executive director of the Georgian Charter of Journalistic Ethics and Tina Gogoladze, the homophobia and hate speech researcher of Media Development Foundation. Dzvelishvili states that LGBTQ issues are comparably new in the Georgian media, therefore, it studies how to cover them correctly on its mistakes. Furthermore, we should separate the responsible media that tries to consider journalistic standards and the media, that includes mainly talk-shows, oriented on ratings.
Dzvelishvili points out that presenting sexual minorities as exotic individuals is one of the most obvious approaches of the journalists toward the members of LGBTQ community which is characteristic not for the talk-shows but the news programs too. The coverage is focused on the details that are not important in the specific cases, for example, they show their visual side, dress up in a way they would not show in the coverage of other individuals. By it, the journalists spread the message that sexual minorities are different from the vast majority of society and, therefore, they should not have the same rights as majority enjoys, notes Dzvelishvili.
The other media approach as Dzvelishvili points out is putting LGBTQ individuals in an unequal situation that is confronting them with people who are known with their homophobic attitudes. “Journalists say they keep the balance by presenting the both confronted sides but quantitative balance does not really mean balance. It is unacceptable for journalists to use their tribune for spreading the hate speech.” – says Dzvelishvili. She also notes that using correct terminology related to LGBTQ community is also difficult for journalists despite there is the guideline of it.
Dzvelishvili considers that transgender women are mostly presented and stereotyped individuals of LGBTQ community. It may conditioned by the fact that they became more visible due to their frequent murders and physical violence in the last period. Thus, they are the most vulnerable members of LGBTQ community, states Dzvelishvili.
Dzvelishvili assumes that because the journalists are the part of the same society and often share the same attitudes and values they repeat the attitudes of the vast majority of society while covering the issues. Such coverage of sexual minorities reinforces existing stereotypes and images related to them while it is media’s responsibility to annihilate the stereotypes. She stresses the importance of increasing of LGBTQ individuals’ visibility but they should not be affiliated only to their sexual identities, they should participate in the programs while covering of different issues if they have knowledge and the competence. Dzvelishvili also notes that the media should make an accent on the fundamental problems of sexual minorities and discussion should be conducted in an equal situation.
Gogoladze points out several contexts in the Georgian media where LGBTQ individuals are mostly presented. One of them is the context of danger as though their existence threatens the traditional way of life and Georgian traditions. The second context is anti-west context that associates the west values with accepting homosexuality and, therefore, gay marriage. Frequently messages also include the ideas that homosexuality is a disease and it is also often connected to phedophilia. As Gogoladze notes, these kinds of contexts and messages are mainly heard in talk-shows since news programs try to consider the journalistic standards. These messages are repeated by the journalists themselves because of their negative attitude toward LGBTQ individuals or because they do not have the enough experience in covering these issues.
Gogoladze points out transgender women as the mostly presented LGBTQ members but their coverage is limited with the topics like attacks, murders, violence against them. Talk-shows are interested in transgender women because they cause a big resonance in society that is profitable for talk-shows. Gogoladze argues that this kind of coverage makes it difficult for sexual minorities to get accepted in society. She notes that their visibility should increase but the media coverage should include other issues as the employment problems, social guarantees, regulations, changing the gender in the identities cards etc.
The study demonstrates dominant frames in Georgian TV shows. The most used frame is “shocking” which is followed by the frames “conflict”, “deviant”, “pervert”, “dangerous” and “stranger”. The most covered LGBTQ members are transgender women, thus, the mostly framed ones. We rarely see gay men in these talk-shows while transgender men, lesbians, bisexuals, queer people are ignored. Therefore, these frames should be attached to transgender women and partly to gay men and not to other members of LGBTQ community.
The number of opponents of LGBTQ individuals is mainly more than the number of sexual minorities in these TV shows. Moreover, homosexuality is mostly categorically unacceptable for these opponents. Thus, the conflict arisen on the base of sexual orientation is intense, deafening and frequently humiliating and embarrassing for LGBTQ individuals.
On the other hand, in the Georgina media is the tendency of making in-depth coverage of the issue, including the issues of LGBTQ community. One of the TV programs “Realuri Sivrce (“Real Space”) on Channel 1 discussed on the specific case – controversy between several transgender women and the neighbourhood – as well as the fundamental problems of sexual minorities in Georgia. In another program of “Realuri Sivrce (“Real Space”) dedicated to the issues of LGBTQ community gay men and a transgender man shared the difficulties they overcame because of their identity. The program stressed other main problems of LGBTQ community. It did not include the opponents of sexual minorities on which the host tells: “The program might be criticised since there are not people who have radically different opinions and they might tell us that we missed the reality. But we missed exactly the reality that we want to be changed.”
Despite the given example of the coverage on fundamental and main problems of LGBTQ community this coverage is exception and not common. As argued by Gamson (2002) the main reason why LGBTs are depicted negatively is to guard “moral order, encouraging the majority to stay on their gender defined reservation and keeping the minority quietly hidden out of sight.” (Gamson, 2002:92) In line with this statement, this study concluded that the Georgian media confirms and reinforce already existing stereotypes and images related to LGBTQ individuals. Thus, the media reassure the viewers that their status quo will be endured and social world would stay as it has always before. (Carey, 1989)
As Dzvelishvili and Gogoladze note the reasons of the coverage of LGBTQ issues by the Georgian media is partly due to journalists’ inexperience in this issue because it is comparably new topic. Also Dzvelishvili argues that journalists are the part of Georgian community and they have their own beliefs and values which might respond the beliefs and values of the vast majority of society.
Aghdgomelashvili, E. (2014), The Fight for Public Space, Anti-gender Movement on the Rise?, Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Publication series on Democracy, Volume 38
Aghdgomelashvili, E. (2012), Homophobic Hate Speech and Political Processes in Georgia, Situation of LGBT Persons in Georgia (p. 57-62)
Bryant, J., Oliver, M. B. (2008), Media Effects: Advances in Theory and Research, Third Edition
Caucasus Research Resource Center caucasusbarometer.org/en
Croteau, D., & Hoynes, W. (2000). Media/Society (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, Pine Forge Press
Gamson, J. (1998), Publicity Traps: Television Talk shows and Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and Transgender Visibility, Sexualities
Hennessy, R. (1994-95), Queer Visibility in Commodity Culture, Cultural Critique (Winter)
Herek, M. G. (2007), Confronting Sexual Stigma and Prejudice: Theory and Practice
Jalaghonia, L. (2016), Legal Situation of LGBTI Persons in Georgia, Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC), 2016
Lee, S., Kim, S., Love, A. (2013), Coverage of the Gay Games from 1980-2012 in U.S. Newspapers: An Analysis of Newspaper Article Framing, Journal of Sport Management
Liebes, T., Curran, J. (2002), Media, Ritual and Identity, Taylor and Francis e-Library
Media Development Foundation (2013), Hate Speech
Media Development Foundation (2016), Hate Speech
Melashvili, T. (2012), Homophobia: Socio-cultural Environment in Georgia, Situation of LGBT Persons in Georgia (p. 63-66)
Nardi, P.M. (1997). Changing gay and lesbian images in the media, Overcoming Heterosexism and homophobia (pp. 427-442), Columbia University Press
Netzley, S. B. (2010), Visibility that demystifies: gays, gender, and sex on television, Journal of homosexuality
Public Defender of Georgia (2016), 10 December Report on the Situation of the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms in Georgia
Ragusa, A. T. (2005), social change and the corporate construction of gay markets in the New York Times advertising business news, Media Culture Society
Rekhviashvili L. (2013), The Trap of Dilemmas and Compromises, Identity
Stanley J. Baran, Dennis K. Davis (2012), Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future, Sixth Edition
Sumbadze, N. (2012), Generations and Values, Institute for Policy Studies
Tereskinas, A. (2001), Ethnic and Sexual Minorities in the Lithuanian Mass Media: Images and Issues, Policy Paper