Percentage of LGBTQ Representation Reaches Record High on TV
By Stacy Lambe
Getty Images (From L to R: Alexandra Billings, Asia Kate Dillon, BD Wong)
LGBTQ representation on TV is on the rise, according to GLAAD.
In the newly released report ("Where We Are on TV"), which assesses diversity of LGBTQ characters among scripted programs on broadcast, cable and streaming networks, audiences are seeing the highest percentage of LGBTQ characters ever in the 22-year history of GLAAD’s annual review.
On broadcast TV, representation has reached 6.4 percent or 58 characters that identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender among the 901 series regulars assessed. The CW leads all other networks with 11 percent, followed closely by Fox with 10 percent. Despite being home of Will & Grace, which returned with its ninth season, NBC was among the worst for representation with 5.3 percent, barely doing better than ABC (5 percent) and CBS (4.2 percent).
On the cable side, Freeform (formerly ABC Family) remains the most LGBTQ-inclusive network with 25 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters, thanks to The Bold Type, The Fosters and Shadowhunters. It’s followed closely by Showtime, which features Asia Kate Dillon as a non-binary character on Billions.
Among the streaming networks, Netflix remains the most inclusive with 46 LGBTQ characters, which is triple the amount seen on Amazon (13) and Hulu (11). Though, the latter two don’t boast as many original programs.
This year, GLAAD also started counting the number of asexual characters, noting the presence of only Raphael on Shadowhunters and Todd (voiced by Aaron Paul) on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman.
While GLAAD reports a record high of representation on TV, it follows last season’s string of LGBTQ character deaths known commonly as the “Bury Your Gays” troupe.
The group also stresses a lack of diversity among LGBTQ representation, with a majority of the characters being white, male and cisgender. Despite the announcement of FX’s Pose, with five transgender leads, and the recently canceled series, Doubt (CBS) and Sense8 (Netflix), as well as Transparent on Amazon, there are only 17 transgender characters across all platforms. Asian LGBTQ characters are the most underrepresented, with Oliver (Conrad Ricamora) on How to Get Away With Murder and Whiterose (Emmy nominee BD Wong) on Mr. Robot as two of the most notable standouts.
GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis warns that despite an overall increase in representation, LGBTQ acceptance is at a critical turning point.
“As LGBTQ acceptance in government and the broader American culture reverses course, television is a critical home for LGBTQ stories and representation matters more than ever,” she said in a statement. “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.”