Behind the Lens: Obstacles LGBTQIA+ Filmmakers Confront in Hollywood.

Behind the Lens: Obstacles LGBTQIA+ Filmmakers Confront in Hollywood.

Hollywood has never been a good representation of diversity and diversity, especially considering LGBTQIA+ people. While there has been some progress in the last few years with more LGBTQIA+ stories getting on TV and movies, LGBTQIA+ directors, as well as filmmakers, still face a lot of discrimination by major studios in terms of getting their projects to the big screens.

Funding and Financing Obstacles

One of the biggest problems is the funding and finance for the media assets about LGBTQIA+ stories and characters. Investors and studios are, in many cases, very cautious about bankrolling such kinds of projects as they think the target audience is not big enough to attract revenue. However, Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name, and Love, Simon, which were successful, are proof there is a very niche audience interested in such quality LGBTQIA+ stories. However, getting access to financing still presents a daunting task for most filmmakers in the LGBTQIA+ community. Sometimes, family and friends have to pitch in whatever little amount they can spare, or they may have to resort to crowdfunding.

Distribution Difficulties

Even when the filmmakers are LGBTQIA+ and are able to find funding for their films from third parties, it is still fair to state that they encounter many barriers in their effort to get distribution from the major Hollywood studios. Producers wonder if such niche films will get any theatrical release or bring any decent profits. Consequently, more of the budget for promotion and distribution should be spent on marketing the LGBTQIA+ stories. That leads to these crucial stories being too hard to be highlighted in the cultural mainstream and get public attention. Along the way, the prominent LGBTQIA+ movies that did not make much impact only ended up in limited film festivals and never even made it to a larger audience.

Typecasting and Tokenism

Some LGBTQIA+ directors report encountering a lot of stigma and casting issues outside the mainstream categories that are going to drive the box office sales. Such directors have usually managed syndicates of homosexual issues but passed on into generalist storylines. This drastically reduces the scope of films that LGBTQIA+ filmmakers consider their empowerment to make. There is also the common trend of the characters being added with the pressure despite feeling tokenized, which makes them just the stereotype rather than their actual identity.

Mentorship and Support

Unlike women and people of colour, who are among the under-represented groups in Hollywood and whose support is provided through advocacy and mentorship programs, LGBTQIA+ creators do not receive this support. This locks up these moviemakers and makes them too distant to network Programs. For example, the Screen Test of GLAAD, Black List's #ShareTheMic campaign, and various film festivals aim to share more marginalized voices. However, systemic support should still be considered from the companies, agencies and guilds. Building communities contribute to becoming the place where filmmakers not only share but also get advice on their careers, which is too often filled with marginalization.

Unconscious Bias

However, when LGBTQIA+ filmmakers can penetrate the writers' rooms or take pitches, they say that they encounter unconscious bias from the studio executives and financiers, who think that their stories will not enjoy a widespread audience. Gatekeepers go for white stories and male stories from straight white men as universal, while LGBTQIA+ narratives progress as niche. This bias determines what the mass media and culture tell people, as there are many devices through which the messages are delivered. The Hollywood industry must reconsider many views about what appeals to audiences and what characters are identifiable for the industry to go for representation and inclusion.

LGBTQIA+ presence in front of the screen has been gradually becoming wider; however, there's a considerable gap as far as the representation behind the scenes goes. A mere fraction of the crew member positions and top creative leadership roles are populated with openly LGBTQIA+ people. The exclusive points of view of LGBTQIA+ storytellers are now very scarce in the film ecosystem of Hollywood filmmaking. However, much still needs to be done to actively recruit, hire, or elevate LGBTQIA+ filmmakers.

Intimidation and Harassment

Positive stories of LGBTQIA+ filmmakers emerge that highlight the experiences ranging from bias and erasure to even explicit intimidation, bullying and harassment. In places where cis heterosexual men exercise power, those with minoritized identities make it a point to put aside the parts of their person and creativity just for survival. One of the statements by LGBTQIA+ filmmakers is that thick skin and grit are needed to get through, even film productions or meetings, where microaggressions and dismissiveness might unwittingly demean their identities and legitimacy.


Filmmakers have reported these barriers persistently throughout the years, and despite these limitations, great films about the LGBTQIA+ community have emerged. Now, if these limitations were taken away, picture the effect that will happen to the creation of these beautiful and moving stories! Tearing down these barriers would require actual action by the Hollywood players on issues such as marketability and reach; currently, limited reach likewise stresses the necessity of stating who the rainbow filmmakers are and why their presence at the creative table is just as significant. It focuses on the different worlds they uncover for the consuming public who has acknowledged the broad scope of the human experience reflected in them. Countless natural and excellent narratives still need to be told. Hollywood must create space to accommodate the myriad of people's voices, lives, and visions from behind the lens.

Presented by SHAVA, this article is part of our commitment to embracing the diversity within the transgender community. SHAVA stands in solidarity with transgender people of color, advocating for acceptance and allyship that recognize and celebrate the richness of their diverse experiences.

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