LGBT characters on TV are becoming closer to the norm but odds are they are white, according to the latest study released from GLAAD.
GLAAD’s “Where We Are on TV” diversity report shows that TV has made advances in LGBT inclusion with more LGBT characters appearing on shows than ever before.
According to the report, 58 of the 901 regular characters on broadcast TV series identify as LGBT. There are also 28 reoccurring LGBT-identifying characters. The CW tops the list with 11 percent with FOX (10 percent), NBC (5.3 percent), ABC (5 percent) and CBS (4.2 percent) following behind. Gay men are the most represented on broadcast TV with 47 percent.
Cable TV increased from 92 to 103 LGBT series regulars with Freeform coming in first at 25 and Showtime coming in second at 21.
Streaming shows have also improved with Netflix, Hulu and Amazon including 51 LGBT regular characters and 19 recurring characters. This is a jump of five characters from their 2016 report.
17 regular and recurring transgender characters were found on broadcast, cable and streaming with nine trans women, four trans men and four non-binary (including Taylor from Showtime’s “Billions). This is the first time GLAAD has been able to include non-binary characters in its study.
Another first for GLAAD was being able to include asexual characters in its report. GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis acknowledged the shift saying “while these identities have been depicted on screen before, those characters were often relegated to one-off episodes, which did not allow for nuanced exploration.”
Cable and streaming count one asexual character each for Raphael on Freeform’s “Shadowhunters” and Todd on Netflix’s “BoJack Horseman.” GLAAD notes that while Jughead is asexual in the Archie Comics he is not being portrayed as such on CW’s “Riverdale.” The organization says it “would like to see the series address this moving forward, as the ace community remains nearly invisible in media.”
While sexuality representation is at a high, gender and racial diversity is still lagging behind.
GLAAD found that the LGBT characters on TV are mainly white with 77 percent on streaming, 62 percent on broadcast and 64 percent on cable. 55 percent of characters on streaming are also male and cis-gender.
The study does highlight achievements in gender and racial diversity like Freeform’s inclusion of a Muslim lesbian character on “The Bold Type,”
“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,” Ellis 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.”