Growing up, I had several friends who were gay or bisexual, as well as a couple who considered themselves transgender. I myself am not straight. Non-heterosexuality to me and most of the people I know is completely normal in day-to-day life, but none of us would fool ourselves into believing that heteronormativity isn’t still going strong all over television. So how important is it that our entertainment stops making heterosexuality the absolute norm and starts being inclusive in an all-around manner?
When it comes to homophobia, television is no longer a place where likable characters can be outright prejudiced (thank goodness). You won’t hear the main character of a show yelling “faggot!” unless there will be some negative consequences later or it’s some sad attempt at fitting in (which, again, will result in negative consequences later on). You won’t see the protagonists actually dislike gays unless that is seen as a major character flaw (like in real life). But the lack of obviousness and brazen anti-gay depictions doesn’t mean the prejudice doesn’t exist; instead, they’re just more sly about them.
For example, in Friends, it was a highly amusing plot point that Chandler’s father was transgender and that growing up, he did a lot of “girly” things, such as learning how to expertly pluck eyebrows. While it’s great that a main character with non-cisgender parents was shown to be a mostly well-adjusted adult, it would have been much more impressive if it wasn’t seen as a punchline. After all, LGBTQ community has been seen as a punchline at the end cheap, lazy jokes for entirely too long.