Campaigners, including Vicky Beeching, are urging TV bosses to increase the representation of religious LGBT+ characters on our screens.
Their calls follow reports that soap EastEnders is set to introduce a lesbian Muslim for the first time.
According to the The Sun, character Iqra Ahmed (Priya Davdra) will come out as gay later this month.
Vicky Beeching, a gay writer and equality campaigner, who works to make the church a more diverse and inclusive place, said that better media representation would help to show viewers that people can be both religious and LGBT+.
“There’s a strong belief in many religious communities that you cannot be LGBTQ and a person of faith,” she told PinkNews.
“That was the view I grew up with and it forced me to stay in the closet until I was 35 years old.
“That paradigm pushes people to choose between their beliefs and their LGBTQ identity, which is an immensely painful and damaging situation.”
Young people of faith need to see diverse religious role models on TV, says Vicky Beeching
Beeching, who was a star on the Christian rock scene before she came out as gay in 2014, explained that she battled with this viewpoint from her teenage years until her early thirties, which was “so bleak at times” that she even considered suicide.
The 40 year old went on to say that increased representation of LGBT+ characters from faith backgrounds on television would help young people who are LGBT+ and religious to feel less alone.
“The media can help to break these outdated stereotypes by including characters who are both LGBTQ and religious; who are able to unite both and live happy and fulfilled lives,” she continued.
“Young people of faith especially need to see diverse religious role models online and on TV.”
Beeching added: “Then, if they are LGBTQ themselves, they’ll know that some faith communities will accept and celebrate both aspects of their identity.
“Coming out will be less terrifying and they’ll know that they’re not walking the path alone.”