Even though we have seen major progress on TV when it comes to LGBTQ representation, we know we have a ways to go when it comes to true equality and visibility on the small screen. The good news is, GLAAD (the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) just released its annual report on LGBTQ representation on TV, and for 2018-2019, it’s at an all-time high, especially on streaming services, which is such a win.
The media monitoring organization shared its data for the year, which, found that the percentage of LGBTQ series regulars on cable is up to 10.2%—up from 8.8% last year. GLAAD counted 90 LGBTQ characters with recurring or regular roles out of 879 total characters, across 111 scripted shows.
Unfortunately, 29 of those regulars won’t be returning next year, and GLAAD’s president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis is calling on the networks to continue increasing their diversity numbers, noting, “There needs to be nuance and depth to their story, and the slate of characters should reflect the full diversity of our community.”
Because, as we know, true representation is different than including one token diverse character on a show and calling it a day.
Cable TV seems to be increasing their diversity at a slower rate than streaming, with only one new regular character in the LGBTQ community having been introduced to the roster. Streaming services including Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, on the other hand introduced 34 new regular and seven new reoccurring LGBTQ characters within the past year.
Check out the full report here.
Another area in need of improvement? The inclusion of transgender characters on streaming services, with GLAAD noting that there were zero transgender characters on Amazon or Hulu’s original programming.
This is especially important, because as the organization points out, less than one quarter of Americans say they personally know someone who is transgender. So for many people, their only exposure to the transgender community is through media like TV shows.
Even so, it’s clear that television is making huge progress in terms of diversity as time moves on. Here’s hoping that 2020 will bring an increase of LGBTQ characters across the board, because it’s so important for people to see characters they can identify with in their favorite TV shows.
We’ll be watching with a critical eye and looking for that visibility to bump year after year.