Date of Award

Fall 12-2014

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Chair

Dr. Christopher Campbell

Committee Chair Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 2

Dr. Vanessa Murphree

Committee Member 2 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 3

Dr. Cheryl Jenkins

Committee Member 3 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 4

Dr. Mary Lou Sheffer

Committee Member 4 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Committee Member 5

Dr. Fei Xue

Committee Member 5 Department

Mass Communication and Journalism

Abstract

This analysis of primetime situational comedies feature LGBTQ characters argues that through heteronormative and homonormative constructions of sexuality, race, gender, and class, many LGBTQ people are rendered invisible in the mainstream. Through discourse analysis, the study describes how these programs work to normalize gay and lesbian identity, which then resembles the dominant heterosexuality, aiding in the advancement of white, middle class gays, who privatize sexuality and mimic dominant conventions of gender, race, sexuality, and class in the public sphere. This research is important in understanding the American public’s most recent shifts in public opinion on issues of marriage equality and moral acceptance, but also in understanding what groups of LGBTQ people may be excluded from the visible gay community. Further, it is important to examine the underlying ideology of these programs to extract meanings that have the potential to further subvert queer notions of sex and sexual politics, race, gender and class, which only work to advance the marginalization of those who do not fit the dominant mold.