Acceptance, humanity and emotional excess: The politics of queer suffering in Big Brother UK

Michael Lovelock

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
4 Downloads (Pure)


While the reality television phenomenon Big Brother has received much scholarly attention, its past and present status as space of prolific representation for lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender identities has been largely uninterrogated. This article seeks to address this gap, focusing on Big Brother UK. In contrast to popular claims that the inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender participants within the show has engendered a climate of ‘tolerance’ and ‘acceptance’ for sexual minority identities in contemporary British society, I argue that, in line with the broader reality televisual mandates of emotional authenticity, intimacy and excess, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender visibility has been, and continues to be, contingent upon the articulation of a kind of queer emotional suffering. I contend that this suffering is a result of the continuing ‘otherness’ of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people to heterosexual norms of personhood, and while incredibly complex, I argue that the representations of this suffering within Big Brother work ultimately to reproduce the heteronormative.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-463
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural Studies
Issue number4
Early online date18 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Big Brother
  • British TV,
  • emotion
  • gay
  • LGBT
  • reality TV
  • transgender

Cite this