Myths and stigmas: gay characters in soap operas
El Nuevo Herald reporter Daniel Shoer Roth has won a GLAAD Media Award for a documentary on how Spanish-language TV programs continue to marginalize and misrepresent the LGBTQ community.
Last year, Shoer Roth reported and narrated the video titled “This is how Spanish-language TV portrays LGBTQ characters, and it’s worrisome,” which focuses on the stereotypical representation of LGBTQ characters in American Spanish-language television. It shows examples from telenovelas of members of the community portrayed as caricatures, with humor, stigmas, myths and ashamed of their sexual orientation.
“The LGBTQ characters in telenovelas and drama series are frequently portrayed with negative features, seen through the prism of the social prejudices and myths commonly accepted in Latin American societies,” said Shoer Roth, 45, who is Venezuelan. “To repeat these stigmas and clichés about homosexuality is harmful to both the audiences, who internalize what they see, and society in general because it encourages homophobia and violence.”
GLAAD is the largest media advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people in the media. Its awards recognize and honor journalists, filmmakers and others for their outstanding representations of the LGBTQ community and the issues that affect their lives.
Shoer Roth’s award for Outstanding Digital Journalism in Spanish is his third GLAAD prize.
Monica Trasandes, GLAAD director for Spanish media, said Shoer Roth was awarded the prize because “aside from the investigation they carried out, the video they produced was very good. It is a way of explaining the problem to audiences, with actual examples. When people see the problems in these videos, they understand why it is bad to be presented in that way on television.”
Trasandes added that there’s still a lack of knowledge in society about the LGBTQ community.
Shoer Roth won a GLAAD prize in 2005 for a story on the challenges faced by Hispanic teenagers in South Florida who are rejected by their families because of their sexual orientation, and a 2008 GLAAD award for best columnist in Spanish-language U.S. media.
The team that produced the winning video report included Shoer Roth, regional McClatchy editor Esther Medina and el Nuevo Herald videographers Matías J. Ocner and Daniela Varela.
“Television has the power to knock down myths,” said Shoer Roth. “This award should push Spanish-language television networks in the United States to improve the on-screen presentation of all stigmatized minorities.”
The 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards ceremony, held Thursday night in Los Angeles, brought out stars from across the entertainment industry. Among those honored were Beyoncé and Jay-Z, who won the Vanguard Award, presented to media professionals who have made a significant difference in promoting equality and acceptance of LGBTQ people. “Will & Grace” star Sean Hayes received the Stephen F. Kolzak Award, named in honor of the L.A. casting director who devoted the last part of his life to fighting homophobia and AIDS-phobia within the industry.