Film & Media Studies Theory

Whitman College – FMS 387

The Absorption of the Gay Rights Movement

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Coming from the perspective of a liberal arts college, supporting gay rights within our community and elsewhere seems implicit to the values of the student population. However, the movement of gay rights has been absorbed and standardized within the “progressive” parties of the preexisting power structure, both political and economic, to obtain increased support and profit. According to John Storey, “this is a clear example of the process Gramsci called hegemony: the way dominant groups in society negotiate oppositional voices on to a terrain which secures for the dominant groups a continued position of leadership…”(93) Although the push for gay rights was an initially unpopular, oppositional voice to preexisting political and cultural structure of rights within the United States, growing support has allowed for its absorption into the interests of dominant, capitalist powers. For example, political figures of high authority, such as President Barack Obama, have publicly announced their support for equality as it pertains to gay rights, increasing their political popularity among the liberal base from which they claim to originate.

On the other hand, massive economic powers are beginning to do precisely the same, brandishing their company emblem at gay Pride parades to identify with onlookers  suggest their own worthiness of support.


Lastly, the entertainment industry jumped on the gay rights profit-bandwagon long before other factions of political society and private organisms, such as banks. Musical artist Macklemore produced the hit song, “Same Love” in 2012, claiming over 82 million views on his YouTube video alone. Although he may not have produced this song with anything other than the pure intention of making an argument for gay rights, he is now featured on the cover of Rolling Stones magazine and has made over $8 million dollars in the course of his career.


The popularity of his song in mainstream media, open support on behalf of politicians and blatant promotional exploitation by private corporations not only suggests the growing support of gay rights, but the absorption of the movement to usurp that support and maintain dominance.


Author: Denali Elliott

I am an undergraduate student at Whitman College and will graduate with a Film & Media Studies major, English and Politics double minor in the spring of 2015. Aspiring to become a multimedia, international journalist, I enjoy creating short films or experimenting with photography and writing through both academic work and free time. My latest films and photographs will be the product of my travels to Zurich, Switzerland and Paris, France over spring break. In addition, I share my work from an Advanced Filmmaking class, The Pioneer (a school newspaper), and projects or classes prior to this year.

One thought on “The Absorption of the Gay Rights Movement

  1. Dakota, I think that the adoption of gay rights into the fold of generic left-wing liberalism is a great example of hegemony in action. Macklemore’s carefully timed release of “Same Love” is a perfect example of a system that allows a straight, white man to “help the cause” while reaping all of the monetary benefits from a song that is meant to empower a marginalized group in society. I believe that your argument would have been even stronger if you went more in depth about the moment when it became acceptable for–if not applauded–for President Obama to support gay rights and how that moment contrasted the previous struggles of the 80s and 90s.

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