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Don't ask don't tell: examining attitudes about black homosexuality and the media in an online forum

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On 8 November 2005, a posting appeared on the BET.COM Bulletin Board under the heading Noah's Arc. It read: ‘Has anyone caught the new show called Noah's Arc? It comes on a gay/lesbian channel called LOGO and the show is really good. It is about four gay men living and loving in Los Angeles … it gives us a glimpse into a world of gay men and the struggles that they endure in life. I suggest that all of you watch it.’ Using textual analysis, this study examines the responses of forum users addressing the following research question: Thematically, what attitudes and opinions emerged from the postings surrounding the question ‘Has anyone caught the new show Noah's Arc?’ Eight themes emerged from the postings submitted by 84 respondents as BET.COM visitors engaged in a four-month discussion about sexual orientation and identity, race, religion and spirituality. The analysis reveals that while many respondents were homophobic and heterosexist, others had a more sophisticated and enlightened understanding of sexuality, media images and stereotypes, religion, and identity politics. Results suggest that an inevitable consequence of discussions of homosexuality is a discussion of morality and religion.
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Keywords: African Americans; Noah's Arc; attitudes; gay; religious beliefs

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Mass Communication, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Little Rock, AR, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2013

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