This paper is an examination of Australian television and the way it both deals with and ignores gay and lesbian lives and issues. The history of television in Australia has always been one of attempting to follow the patterns set primarily in the United States and the United Kingdom, but without the urgency that has driven the development of the mass media in those two nations. Television history in Australia trails behind that of most other developed nations, and this is reflected in the way that queer issues are a part of their broadcasting texture. While gays and lesbians do appear on the screen, they are still seen as a separate minority whose interests and concerns remain outside the mainstream and are, therefore, marginalized by most programming. This is partly a result of geography and partly one of culture. Australian television is a direct reflection of Australian society as a whole.
Elizabeth Jacka and Lesley Johnson (1995) observe:
One way of understanding Australian television history is as a continuing tension between centralizing and regionalizing pressures, a struggle between large commercial television proprietors who wish to extend their reach over the entire nation (and increasingly beyond) and those interests that seek to preserve the local and regional character of television, a struggle which has always been biased towards the former (p. 331).
Larger, more national issues have always tended to overbalance more individualized and local interests in Australia. This is reflected in the ways that gay and lesbians have been represented on Australian television screens throughout the history of the medium.
English inventor John Logie Baird was able to electrically transmit moving pictures in what was the first true television system in 1926. Although technicians continued to revise the technology for televising signals over subsequent years, international events that resulted in World War II preve...