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Browsing by Subject "representations"

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  • Ylppö, Myrsky (2016)
    This thesis explores how the Finnish media’s representations of homosexual men and women changed between 1990 and 2010, from negative public portrayals towards more positive ones. The thesis also examines if these changes reflect attitudes and opinions of the Finnish society and population overall during this time period. The primary sources consist of newspaper articles from the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, along with material from other newspapers, tabloids, and supporting research material. The chosen theoretical approach for this thesis is qualitative research, and Queer theory is also employed to a certain extent. A larger focus for my study is Helsinki Pride, which has an important role in the Finnish LGBTQ community and gay culture. The festival is a grassroots movement and a political product of Seta, the main LGBTQ rights organisation in Finland. Helsinki Pride has played a role of utmost importance in consolidating and renewing the public images and representations of Finnish sexual minorities. This has mainly transpired through asserting the visual and spatial expressions and demands of the festival upon the public space of the city, usually reserved for the heterosexual mainstream. Due to the diversity and division existing within the Finnish LGTBQ community, this public image has not, however, been completely accurate or unproblematic. This has further complicated the construction of a unified public image, and has lead to the emergence of notions of homonormativity and other established forms of discrimination within the LGBTQ community. Visibility, which plays another important role in this study, has the effect of legitimising existence in society. Until the 1990s, the public images and representations of sexual minorities had been firmly maintained and controlled by the Finnish media, with members of the local LGBTQ community unable to partake in the construction of these definitions. The AIDS crisis with its aftermath in the 1990s had drawn homosexuals out of the shadows of anonymity and into the public space for scrutiny. For the first time homosexuals were presented with the opportunity of more extensively representing themselves publicly in the Finnish media, on their own terms. The 2000s marked the transition from the 1990s, with homosexuality as a human rights topic and political element, to one of representations of a minority group struggling to shake off stereotypes, homophobia, and false public conceptions. The abolition of many discriminatory legislations against homosexuals in the late 1990s and early 2000s also allowed for further expansion of the homosexuals’ visibility and influence in the Finnish media and society. The results of my work confirmed that the Finnish media’s representations of homosexuals changed notably during the period of 1990-2010. Much of the visibility and positive depictions in the media of the 2000s have been garnered through the Finnish LGBTQ community’s own activities, e.g. the Pride festivals, but also through the media’s growing interest for trendy and commercial gay portrayals. Thus the representations and public images of homosexuals in the Finnish media changed from those in the 1990s of ridiculed deviants towards those of more normal, Finnish citizens by the 2010s.