Inquiring Minds Want To Know, Why Are Homose*ual Relationships Shown More Than Interracial Couples On TV?

31 comments
December 12, 2012 ‐ By Alissa Henry
"Interracial couple greeting card"

The card my husband bought for me

When my husband bought me a cute “just because” card a few weeks ago featuring a married couple, he wanted it to represent us so he colored the woman’s face in. Apparently, if you’re looking for a greeting card for your same-sex relationship, Target has you covered. But if you’re looking for a greeting card that illustrates your interracial, heterose*ual relationship, well…get out your crayons.

Though, statistically speaking, interracial relationships are more common than same-sex ones, it seems that homosexual couples enjoy a disproportionately large amount of representation in the media while interracial couples are relatively nonexistent.

If you let television tell it (and the greeting card section of your local store), the instances of people marrying outside of their race are rare.  However, the Pew Research Center reported that in 2010, one in twelve married couples were interracial. The share of new marriages between spouses of a different race or ethnicity rose to 15 percent that year while the percentage of interracial married couples in general rose to an all-time high of 8.4 percent. (Keep in mind that this data includes only married couples, not the growing segment of unmarried cohabiters.)

In contrast, Gallup found that 3.4% of adults say “yes” when asked if they identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or tran*gender. The research-based performance-management consulting company acknowledged that the number may not reflect reality because some are probably not willing to identify themselves as LGBT. Still, if every single person were truthful about their sexual orientation, would the percentage jump high enough to warrant the proliferation of gay couples in the media and the dearth of interracial couples? Gallup reported that less than five percent of individuals (not couples) are LGBT, yet it’s hardly an exaggeration to say that nearly every new television show nowadays has a gay character.

Are same-sex couples more likely to get screen time because more people are comfortable with homosexual relationships than they are with interracial ones?

Maybe.

Consider the commentary surrounding the popular ABC television show “Scandal” starring Kerry Washington. Olivia Pope’s relationship with President Grant has been fodder for the blogosphere since the beginning of Season One. Not because she’s having the worst kept secret affair with the President of the United States, but because he’s White and she’s Black. As a result, few compare their relationship to Monica Lewinsky’s sexcapades with President Clinton, or Marilyn Monroe’s rumored affair with JFK. Instead, solely because of race, blogger after blogger insists this is a modern day Sally Hemmings/Thomas Jefferson situation. Some bloggers have even maintained that the Olivia/Fitz relationship isn’t believable because their affair is interracial.

You know whose relationship I find unbelievable on that show? Cyrus and James. Initially, I thought they were father and son. But apparently, the male Chief of Staff is married to a male journalist in a nation where nine states prohibit gay marriage by statue and 30 states’ prohibit it in their constitutions. This is the reality of the country we live in, yet it’s Fitz and Olivia’s relationship that warrants an epic side eye for credibility. Cyrus and James can celebrate their engagement and talk about adoption, but when Harrison looked at Abby for one second too long, Twitter erupted with disapproval.

Granted, “Scandal” is just one show, but enough for me to suspect that people don’t support interracial couplings the way they support homosexuality.

Interracial couples would absolutely experience more support in real life if they were at least proportionately portrayed on television. How do I know? Because this has been the experience of same-sex marriage. In fact, I would argue that the lingering prohibition of gay marriage is part of the reason that gay couples are cast more than interracial ones. Unlike anti-miscegenation laws that were declared unconstitutional more than 40 years ago (though several had remained codified until as recently as 2000), gay marriage is still not legal across the country. So Hollywood producers, writers and directors have taken it upon themselves to make people more comfortable with the gay couples around them by showing more gay couples on television. Putting these relationships onscreen in high numbers isn’t about accurate representation. It’s about normalization.

As a result, same sex relationships are assumed to be more common than they really are. Recently, Gallup found that U.S. adults, on average, estimate that 25% of Americans are gay or lesbian. That’s way higher than reality, but that’s what we see on TV. If Hollywood can make a point of showcasing normal, loving, homosexual relationships, then why can’t they show more normal, loving interracial relationships?

America is becoming more of an integrated, multiracial society, but that’s not what we’re seeing. Instead, we are subject to these Hollywood writers and producers fantasy lands that include no minorities whatsoever. There are certainly a few more interracial couples on TV than there were years ago, but in no way do those numbers match that of the same-sex relationships we see despite the fact that interracial couplings are more prevalent in real life.

Even the emoticons on my iPhone illustrate ignorance of the truth that a person is more likely to love someone of a different race than they are to love someone of the same gender. The only “couple” emoticons choices are a White heterose*ual couple or a White homosexual one. The emoticon creators haven’t even acknowledged Black iPhone users, yet they’ve got the White homosexuals covered. It is so bizarre.

Maybe I only notice these things because I’m in an interracial relationship, but there are definitely a powerful few working overtime to shape national attitudes about homosexuality and make sure gay couples are represented. However, for those of us in interracial relationships, well we just have to color each others’ faces in.

Follow Alissa on Twitter @AlissaInPink or check out her blog This Cannot Be My Life

More from Styleblazer

More from Mommynoire

MadameNoire Video

Comment Disclaimer: Comments that contain profane or derogatory language, video links or exceed 200 words will require approval by a moderator before appearing in the comment section. XOXO-MN
  • stead09

    I hate hearing the word “race” ,There is no race but the human race.

  • jennifer

    Why are you comparing interracial relationships with same sex relationships? That makes no sense. Why are you rendering race and sexuality as mutually exclusive? I’m in an interracial same sex relationship, and your argument seems extraordinarily flawed. Maybe next time you can be more intersectional with your analysis before you invalidate an entire community of people. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/HistorianInMe Kayla Sonergoran

    This is why I was a huge fan of the show Eureka. I think it was the only show to air to have 2 interracial couples (a black woman with a white man (2 different white men since she dated 2 guys during the show’s run), and a Hispanic woman with a white man). And to date, it is one of the few shows to have a black female and a black male and not make them a couple. In fact, they added a second black female for the black male in the last season (and he previously had a relationship with an Asian female).

    I mean this show really bucked the system. They had 3 minority characters (two of which were black) that had HUGE roles on the show turning the tokenism on it’s side. Then they had several interracial datings. And they even got the race right of the biracial baby in contrast to the baby’s black older brother, few shows ever take into account black mommy, white daddy equals Halle Berry skin tone.

    I truly miss Eureka.

  • Christine West

    There are all black TV shows and all white TV shows. Everytime a white woman is written in as a partner for a black man she is an airhead, too stupid to peel eggs or cook period. Some of us educated women of all ETHNICITIES want to be taken seriously. Not every woman that dates inter-ETHNICALLY are trailer trash ex hookers!

  • http://www.yourtango.com/users/cheekee-baby cheekee baby

    I think why gay couples are pushed so heavily is because that is who is in the entertainment business. Writers write what they know, so the majority of shows and movies etc. are located in either New York or California and feature a gay guy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=560819298 Sarita Alexander

    I must admit there’s a serious problem with this, and when it is shown it’s BM/WW. Know what else there’s a problem with? BM/BW relationships. I can’t find them on TV unless I’m watching reruns. If you believe the TV, EVERY black man is gay and every black woman is single – cause that’s all they show us. It really is a shame.

  • mandy

    Really we can bury our heads in the sand or look at the startling realization. How many of you live in Atlanta or other cities where the ratio of good, eligible black men are present? I lived in Cobb County, GA and seen many young black females dating white males. In one of my classes at the college the girls were talking about the scarcity of eligible black men. It’s nothing wrong for black women to open their options up. Please don’t tell me that there many out there, because i lived in Dallas, Houston, Nashville, Atlanta, and trust me I am not talking about the local thug, unemployed, cheating guy. If you want that then yes, they’re everywhere.

  • mandy

    You hit it dead on the head Madame Noire. I have read bell hooks, black feminism books; in which she speaks about black women being misrepresented by others and how we view ourselves. It’s funny how history has a way of continuing, even when we thought things have changed.

  • mac

    I never a noticed a disparity. Probably cause I wasn’t looking for it. You’ll get that in a minute.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

    Maybe. There are too many races to mix and match on cards. Gay couples are just two men or two women. There are lots of races, so if you make one IR card. Then that calls for everyone else. Way too many combonations. IR relationships aren’t just black and white people. Just in case you forgot. But that’s just my take on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/amanda.browne.7165 Amanda D. Browne

    I think this article is great. And you’re absolutely right. Some people just aren’t comfortable with seeing interracial relationships for some reason.

  • Tee

    I agree, but I also see alot more commercials with black men and white women as opposed to black women and white men, so I think they are not representing black women in a more “well rounded” way. The media really likes to show black women as one dimensional, when we are quite the opposite and each so different. It’s a shame and I’m ready for a change, something has got to give, We need to take back our image black women and represent ourselves!!!!!

  • Adrian Khan (The Soca Warrior)

    Why is it considered only inter-racial when it’s black/white?

  • Cleo

    I don’t to see either, not everyone cares about that it honestly

  • ieshapatterson

    It’s because the main stream media,doesn’t want to offend white people.but everywhere you go,mixed race couples are there.

  • MLS2698

    I think you’re obsessed. what # article is this about your relationship? Oh, okay.

    • noble

      I agree…seems like this whole site is obsessed with IR relationships…especially black women with white men.

      • Adrian Khan (The Soca Warrior)

        All black sites are obsessed with WM/BW,but despise BM/WW.

        • Tee

          It’s a myth that black women or black sites “despise” BM/WW relationships. Alot of the talk about it is because people seem to want to only accept BM/WW more than BW/WM relationships and that should NOT be the case. Love who you want to love don’t try and accept only a man(black) being able to date whoever, but a black women should only be with one type of man. I’ve dated different races and notice how black men approach me or make an effort to speak to me when I’m with this person, yet I don’t stereotype all black men and say they as dispise black women when we date outside our race.

          • Tee

            *despise

        • jennifer

          Try considering BW/WW. Talk about being ‘despised’

          • http://Islandmix.com/ Adrian Khan (The Soca Warrior)

            Yeah sure.

      • MLS2698

        It’s not the whole site but maybe about two people whose imagination won’t go past their own relationship.

    • for real now?

      Yes, yes, yes. Why is this site always pusing IR relationships? I’m not against them but enough already. You fall in love with who you fall in love with but I feel like we have some mentally screwed up people in our black community who believe it is a social “upgrade” to be in a relationship with a white person.

      I get so fed up with this because madame noir talks more about IR but the majoriy of black people fall in love and marry other black people. What about more articles about black people being in love or having black love more visible on tv. ? Whenever it’s about a black male and female relationship, I feel this site frames it in a disfunctional way.

      Sorry for any special errors but Im so fed up with this bs. Also I don’t want to offend the author or her relatioship. I’m not attacking her, just a genral trend I see with these online sites geared towards us black women.
      We need to stop hating ourselves.
      Ok, I’m stepping off my soap box.
      Madame noire, please do more articles on black love, please!!!!!!

      • for real now?

        Ok I had a ton of spelling errors because I’m so annoyed with madame noir right now. I meant to say:
        Why is this site always pushing IR relationships?
        Whenever there are articles about black love (black men and black women) it just ends up being a highlight reel of how poorly we supposedly treat each other.
        For all the talk about IR relationships, the reality is most black people fall in love with other black people but there seems to be no celebration of black love on this site.
        We as a community need more counseling to undo the damaging affects of racism that plagues our community.

      • Gye Nyame

        I’m with you 100%. I love MN, but i can’t stand the constant IR brainwashing this website pushes. I have a hard time finding my relationship reflected in the media (a black man and a black woman that are married with children and don’t live in dysfunction). Why can’t we see more of that or have more articles about that instead of the silly “baby daddy/mamma” nonsense or “black men lie, and cheat but white men can save you from a life in the ghetto and elevate your status”…what garbage. From what I see most of the women on this site don’t really care for these types of articles, so stop trying to shove it down our throats!

      • MLS2698

        I think the way AH’s husband presented the card to her was great and very loving. But hell, I have trouble finding black people on any kind of card……thank you cards, thinking of you, miss you, love you, like you, even hate you cards don’t have us on them! So my mind can’t even think about OTHER couples.

    • http://twitter.com/AlissaInPink Alissa (Uh-LEASE-Uh)

      Obsessed with what? My marriage? Guilty as charged! Lol. You’re right. I do write about relationships from a personal perspective a lot, but to be fair, this particular piece isn’t really about my marriage at all. Thanks for reading though!

      • MLS2698

        Did you get a chance to see the article about responding to people in social media? And yes, I read lots of articles on MN. This time, I wanted to see if it was you AGAIN. Yup! it was! And to be fair….didn’t you start talking about yourself first? I’m not knocking you, but are you in charge of JUST the relationship articles? And just a side note: if you respond to this, I know you’re a journalistic softie!.

    • realadulttalk

      I gotta agree–I was less curious about the article than the writer. And I wasn’t surprised.

  • IllyPhilly

    On a lot of tweeny/kid’s shows they do have more interracial dating amongst the kids (most of what I seen is Black girl White guy) and marriages with interracial children. I have never watched Scandal, but I hear it’s fab and based on a live person and I’ve seen mixed race couple cards and I have never seen any homosexual relationship cards.

Get the MadameNoire
Newsletter
The best stories sent right to your inbox!
close [x]