GLAAD’s latest TV study found that LGBTQ characters will have a record high visibility this season, but that the majority of those characters are white and male.
The “Where We Are On Tv” report counted LGBTQ characters across broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms for the 2017-18 season, and while broader representation has improved, there’s not much diversity within that progression.
Among original streaming programs, for instance, GLAAD’s report found that 77% of the LGBTQ characters were white and, per Variety, “all three platforms tracked—broadcast, cable, and streaming originals—were lacking in LGBTQ characters of color.” On primetime broadcasts, women accounted for 43% of regular LGBTQ characters. So in generally-good-but-still-not-there-yet news:
Of the 901 series regular characters expected to appear on broadcast primetime scripted programming in the coming year, 58 (6.4%) were counted as LGBTQ. This is the highest percentage of LGBTQ regular characters GLAAD has counted on primetime scripted broadcast programming. There were an additional 28 recurring LGBTQ characters. This is 86 total LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on primetime scripted broadcast TV, up from the previous year’s 71.
The report counted 17 “regular and recurring” transgender characters on all three platforms and 28% of LGBTQ characters (predominantly women) that identified as bisexual. In its 22nd year, the study also for the first time included non-binary and asexual characters. Via GLAAD:
These identities have been depicted onscreen before, but rarely, and such characters were usually relegated to one-off episodes and stripped of nuance. Broadcast is the only platform tracked without an asexual character; cable and streaming each include one asexual character (Raphael on Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” and Todd on Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman”).
In a statement about the report, GLAAD’s president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis specifically referenced Trump—“At a time when the Trump administration is trying to render LGBTQ people invisible, representing LGBTQ people in all of our diversity in scripted TV programs is an essential counterbalance that gives LGBTQ people stories to relate to and moves the broader public to support LGBTQ people and families.”