The latest report from GLAAD revealed that of the 881 regular characters that appeared on broadcast primetime programming in 2015, only 4 percent (35) were identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. And an additional 35 or so LGBT characters were recurring.
The numbers are a bit more promising on cable and streaming services, and the success of these programs has led to better representation in the months ahead as the 2016-17 TV season gets underway.
Of course, we’ll have to wait until 2017 to see returning faves such as Cosima from “Orphan Black” and Lena and Stef from “The Fosters,” but the next few months offer plenty of new and returning characters coming to the boob tube (or computer screen).
The CW has never been shy about having LGBT characters as part of its main casts and that trend continues in 2016. Friday nights will feature the second season of “Crazy Ex Girlfriend” starting Oct. 21, which has a sweet love story developing between “White” Josh and Darryl. “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” features the out superhero White Canary played by Caity Lotz every Thursday night at 8 p.m. Fellow superhero show, “Supergirl” will be introducing lesbian Maggie Sawyer when the show moves to the CW Monday nights beginning Oct. 10.
The popular AMC series, “The Walking Dead” returns to Sunday nights Oct. 23, and the show continues to have several gay characters among its living. Although there’s a chance that the popular Aaron (Ross Marquand) will meet his maker at the hands of Nagen and his bat Lucille in the series opener, characters such as Eric and Tara continue to be part of the zombie fight.
“Empire,” the Fox Wednesday night megahit, returns on Sept. 21, and continues to feature gay characters in major plotlines, including Jamal, played by out actor Jussie Smollett.
On the comedy front, ABC’s “The Real O’Neals” returns on Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m., beginning Oct. 11. Although there were rumors of the show having its series order trimmed from 22 to 12 episodes following some controversial remarks by out star Noah Galvin, the sitcom will have a complete season and further follow the adventures of a family learning to live with their gay son.
Another sitcom back for its second year that provides plenty of laughs is “Superstore,” starring America Ferrera. One of the store’s employees, Mateo (played by Nico Santos), is gay. The show returns Thursdays at 8 p.m., on Sept. 22.
“Shameless” premieres on Showtime on Oct. 12 with the Gallagher clan again dealing with just about every problem under the sun. When last we tuned in, bi-polar Ian was getting serious with his HIV-positive boyfriend, Caleb, and this season promises to deal with their relationship a great deal.
On Thursday nights, “Finding Prince Charming” airs on Logo, and has already created quite the buzz. Hosted by Lance Bass, the show is a “Bachelor”-esque show for gay men, with 13 suitors competing for the heart of Robert Sepúlveda Jr.
Speaking of dating shows, former “Flavor of Love” standout Tiffany Pollard is shopping “The Ex,” a gay dating show where each week, two exes will vie for the attention of three contestants in the hopes of finding new love after heartache. The show is expected to have a cable network attached soon and starting to air this fall.
Married comedians Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher are best known for their podcast, “Put Your Hands Together,” and in August saw their new TV show, “Take My Wife” start a 12-week run on Seeso. The show follows the newlywed lesbian couple co-hosting a standup showcase.
MTV recently started airing “Mary + Jane” on Mondays at 10 p.m. The show follows two pot-trepreneurs (Jordan and Paige) on the East-side of Los Angeles, with Jordan (played by Jessica Rothe) described as “sexually fluid and fiercely independent and empowered.”
The second season of reality show, “I Am Jazz,” aired this summer and will continue showing reruns on Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on TLC. The show follows the life of transgender teen Jazz Jennings and her family through an 11-part series.
Amazon’s Emmy darling “Transparent” returns for a third season on Dec. 4, further following the adventures of Mort, a transgender played by Jeffrey Tambor.
Beginning Oct. 16, “Queer Ghost Hunters,” a docu-show about LGBT ghost hunters debuts online on YouTube, following the adventures of real people discovering stories of the queer past in places as diverse as the Ohio State Reformatory.
“Feral,” a TV show that follows a group of gay 20-somethings who learn about love, loss and friendship while living in the vibrant, artistic queer community of Memphis, will premiere on Dekkoo.com on Oct. 6.
After a four-year hiatus, “VH1 Divas” makes a triumphant return on Dec. 5, although the performers are still being kept under wraps.
One of the most anticipated specials of the year is a TV remake of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” (starring Laverne Cox as Frank-N-Furter and Adam Lambert as Eddie), which will air on Fox on Oct. 20.
Another musical sure to excite is NBC’s live broadcast of “Hairspray,” with Harvey Fierstein recreating his Broadway role as Edna. Jennifer Hudson, Kristin Chenoweth and Martin Short also star.
Of course, many shows do have gay supporting characters that sometimes get storylines such as Clark from ABC’s “Dr. Ken,” airing Fridays at 8:30 p.m., beginning Sept. 23; or “Younger’s” Maggie (played by the brilliant Debbi Mazar, and airing on TV Land at 10 p.m., Wednesdays, beginning Sept. 28).