M E D I A W A T C H    S E R I E S
Marko Zajc, Janez Polajnar
Ours and Yours
Tanja Petrović
A long way home
Brankica Petković, Marko Prpič, Neva Nahtigal, Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin
Media Preferences and Perceptions
Mitja Velikonja
Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Brankica Petković
You call this a media market?
Brankica Petković, Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Lenart J. Kučić, Iztok Jurančič, Marko Prpič, Roman Kuhar
Media for Citizens
Mitja Velikonja
Jernej Rovšek
The Private and the Public in the Media
Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Lenart J. Kučić, Brankica Petković
Media Ownership
Roman Kuhar
Media Representations of Homosexuality
Dragan Petrovec
Violence in the Media
Majda Hrženjak, Ksenija H. Vidmar, Zalka Drglin, Valerija Vendramin, Jerca Legan
Making Her Up
Gojko Bervar
Freedom of Non-accountability
Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin
Serving the State or the Public
Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Marko Milosavljević
Media Policy in Slovenia in the 1990s
Breda Luthar, Tonči Kuzmanić, Srečo Dragoš, Mitja Velikonja, Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Lenart J. Kučić
The Victory of the Imaginary Left
Matevž Krivic, Simona Zatler
Freedom of the Press and Personal Rights
Karmen Erjavec, Sandra Bašić-Hrvatin, Barbara Kelbl
We About the Roma
Tonči Kuzmanić
Hate-speech in Slovenia
Darren Purcell
The Slovenian State on the Internet
Breda Luthar
The Politics of Tele-tabloids
Marjeta Doupona Horvat, Jef Verschueren, Igor Ž. Žagar
The Pragmatics of Legitimation

Roman Kuhar
Media representations of Homosexuality
An Analisys of the Print Media in Slovenia, 1970-2000

eBook (742kB, pdf)

The subject of this study is media construction of homosexuality. The author looks into the media representations of homosexuals and related discourse on homosexuality in the print media in Slovenia in the period 1970-2000. The author places these media texts into their historical context and presents an overview of the history of gay and lesbian movement in Slovenia.

Media representations of homosexuality are divided into five basic categories: stereotyping, medicalization, sexualization, secrecy and normalization. Stereotyping primarily relies on rigid gender schemas exploited by the media to present gays as effeminate and lesbians as masculine, drawing on the analogy with their social roles which thus appear as natural rather than socially constructed. Medicalization of homosexuality is a continuation of the psychiatric discourse on same-sex orientation from the end of the 19th century. In media representations it is manifested as a search for the causes of homosexuality (the implied question is “what went wrong and led to homosexuality?”) and the consigning of homosexuality to the medical and psychiatric spheres (homosexuality as a disease or a disorder). Sexualization, the third component of the media discourse, is manifested as a reduction of homosexuality solely to sexuality and sex (since sexualization frequently occurs in graphic images, the author uses Barthes’ model to explain the difference between the connotative and denotative levels). The veil of secrecy implied by media representations makes homosexuality appear as something concealed and related to shame and regret. Normalization, the last component of media representations, is characteristic primarily of the late 1990s when previous images of homosexuals as criminals, psychiatric patients and the like, were surpassed. However, this change in attitude is only apparent, since the kind of normalization found in media representations is actually a heterosexual normalization. Media representations of normal homosexuality are representations tailored to the perception of heterosexuals in such a way that they do not threaten their world. Homosexuality is acceptable only when depoliticized.

The author concludes that in the period 1970-2000 media reporting on homosexuality was generally sympathetic or neutral. Yet this general positive trend within media representations nevertheless contains ingredients that enable the perpetuation of the negative attitude of public opinion towards this phenomenon. The author argues that it is precisely the five most frequent components of media representations mentioned above that are responsible for the gap between politically correct media representations and negative public opinion. Homosexuality still causes uncertainty and uneasiness, so the media usually resort to highly stereotyped images which easily tally with the readers’ representations of homosexuality without upsetting them.