The theme for this LGBT+ History month is ‘behind the lens’, a theme which aims to celebrate LGBT+ storytelling in TV and Film as well as celebrating queer people who work in the industry. Network members have shared their stories of how seeing representations of LGBT+ people in TV and Film affected them.
Sex Education is a TV series on Netflix which follows the lives of fictional Sixth Form age students as they navigate through new experiences, experimentations and dilemmas related to sexual intimacy. The growth, inclusivity and relatability of these coming-of-age moments are rarely seen on screen and may be regarded as ‘taboo’, but, they are representative of journeys that many people go through in their lives.
There is one particular moment of this show which stuck out to me. In Series 2, Episode 4, Florence, who is a side character in the show, speaks about her lack of desire to have sex. She expresses how pressured she feels to conform and how she feels “like a freak” for not wanting sexual intimacy. This is interpreted as her not being ready yet and she is told she will be ready once she finds “the right person”. Later in the show, Florence has a conversation with a Sex Therapist to try and ‘fix’ her issues, saying “I think I may be broken” and that when thinking of having intimate relationships she doesn’t “feel anything” and has “no connection to it”. What Florence doesn’t realise at this moment is that she is Asexual. Only through this conversation with a professional does she find out what Asexuality is and that it is something she identifies with.
This scene on Asexuality, and this accurate portrayal of an Asexual character, is the only time I have ever seen Asexuality on TV, in film, or in any kind of content I consume. Information and publicity of Asexuality is rare – the majority of people will have never heard of it and won’t know what it means. This means, much like Florence, Asexual people feel quite alone, even within the LGBTQ+ community. It also means that too often, when talking about their personal experience with sexuality, Asexual people are met with those same comments which were said to Florence in the show.
Scenes like this are so important. It is vital for underrepresented groups, like members of the whole Ace community, to see themselves represented on screen as it shows that they real and are not alone. Sex Education showed an Asexual character, in a delicate, accurate and relatable way to audiences of over 40 million people worldwide. 40 million people who will now have an opportunity to learn what asexuality is and what being ace means. More importantly, it will give an opportunity for those at home – who are having the same thoughts around sex and sexuality as Florence did – to see someone like them on screen. That’s why this scene mattered to me. It shows that Asexual people are not broken and do not need to be fixed. It also reinforces that Asexual people can have companionship, intimacy, and love without sex. And, that “sex doesn’t make us whole”.
If you haven’t seen Sex Education you’re missing out on one of the most entertaining and positive shows around. Sex Education can be seen on Netflix. Ace is used as an umbrella term for the asexual, aromantic and grey-sexual community. Tash wrote this, they can be found working as a policy assistant for West Midlands Police and Crime commissioner. You can reach Tash at email@example.com.