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GLAAD reports a disappointing lack of LGBTI characters on television

Still Too Few Gays On TV

29 October 2015

Over in the USA the annual GLAAD ‘Where We Are on TV’ reports has shown a disappointing lack of diversity in the characters represented on television.

GLAAD is the world's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) media advocacy organization and for the last 20 years it has surveyed the presence of LGBT characters on TV, which includes free-to-air, cable and now streaming services.

The report found the lack of trans characters disturbing, with none at all in primetime broadcast programming and only three recurring trans characters on cable. Seven recurring trans characters were counted on streaming services but only one was a trans man.

Furthermore racial diversity among LGBT characters is poor with over 70 per cent on broadcast and cable being white.

Between broadcast and cable, GLAAD found only one character depicted as HIV positive.

"Each of us lives at the intersection of many identities and it's important that television characters reflect the full diversity of the LGBT community," Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO & President of GLAAD, said.

"It is not enough to just include LGBT characters; those characters need to be portrayed with thought and care to accurately represent an often tokenized community."

GLAAD FINDINGS

  • Of the 881 regular characters expected to appear on broadcast primetime scripted programming in the coming year, 35 (4%) were identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual. There were an additional 35 recurring LGB characters.
  • The number of regular LGBT characters counted on cable increased from 64 to 84, while recurring characters increased from 41 to 58.
  • For the first time, GLAAD counted LGBT characters on original series that premiered on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. GLAAD found 43 series regulars and 16 recurring LGBT characters across 23 series.
  • Bisexual representations rose on both broadcast and cable this year with a notable increase (from 10 to 18) in the number of bisexual men appearing on cable programs. Unfortunately, many of these characters still fall into dangerous stereotypes about bisexual people.
  • This year, 43% of regular characters on primetime broadcast programming are women, which is an increase of three percentage points from last year but still underrepresents women in the population.
  • For the first time in two years, the percentage of regular characters depicted as living with a disability on broadcast programming has dropped, down to 0.9% from 1.4% reported last year. Between broadcast and cable, there is only one recurring character who is depicted as HIV-positive.
  • Racially diverse LGBT characters are notably lacking on all platforms with 71% (cable) and 73% (streaming services) of LGBT characters being white. Overall racial diversity is increasing with 33% (287) of 881 regular characters counted on primetime scripted broadcast programming being people of color, which is a six-point increase from last year. GLAAD also found that 16% (145) of regular characters on broadcast programming will be black, the highest percentage since GLAAD began compiling comprehensive racial data 11 years ago. However, black women remain significantly underrepresented with only 59 of those characters being female.

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