Where We Are On TV: Number Of LGBTQ Characters On TV Is Higher Than Ever
GLAAD’s latest ‘Where We Are On TV’ study found that the number of LGBTQ characters on TV is at a record high…
Television is changing. Of course, it’s only natural that television would evolve with the rest of the world, constantly growing in the maturity of its stories so that audiences can better relate to its stories. That growth also includes an increased presence for the LGBTQ community and the number of characters on TV found in scripted programs across broadcast, cable and streaming TV outlets that are identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual transgender or queer.
GLAAD’s 22nd annual ‘Where We Are On TV’ report found that in the 2017-18 television season, there are more characters identifying as LGBTQ than ever before. And they’re not just your typical “token gay character,” like Ross’s lesbian ex-wife Carol in Friends, or supporting character Rickie on My So-Called Life. GLAAD reports that of the 901 series regular characters in scripted, primetime shows this season, 58 (around 6.4 per cent) of them were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer. The report also identified an additional 28 recurring LGBT characters.
That may not sound like much, but at the very least, it’s an improvement. Last year, which was previously a record year, GLAAD reported that of the 895 series regular characters in scripted, primetime shows 43 (or 4.8 per cent) of them were identified as part of the LGBTQ community.
The 2017-18 report also found that only two characters were depicted as HIV-positive, a decrease from three last year. However, the study discovered that both cable and streaming included an asexual character.
In addition, 17 regular and recurring characters were revealed to be transgender, including nine transgender women, four transgender men and four who were non-binary.
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said: “As LGBT acceptance in government and the broader American culture reverses course, television is a critical home for LGBT stories and representation matters more than ever.”
“At a time when the Trump administration is trying to render the LGBT people invisible, representing LGBT people in all of our diversity in scripted TV programs is an essential counterbalance that gives LGBT people stories to relate to and moves the broader public to support LGBT people and families.”
That’s the good news…but there is some bad news
Although progress is being made in terms of numbers of LGBTQ characters on TV, some 77% of the 70 LGBTQ characters counted on streaming originals were white, according to the report. All three platforms tracked – broadcast, cable, and streaming originals – were lacking in LGBTQ characters of colour.