GLAAD Report: LGBTQ Inclusion on Television at Record High

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced the findings of its annual Where We Are on TV report. Where We Are on TV analyzes the overall diversity of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks and assesses the number of LGBTQ characters on cable networks and original scripted streaming series on the services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix for the 2019-2020 TV season. This marks the 24th year that GLAAD has tracked the presence of LGBTQ characters on television.

Read the full report here.

After GLAAD last year called on the television industry to reach 10 percent LGBTQ inclusion among broadcast series regular characters on primetime scripted series by 2020, the 2019-2020 Where We Are on TV report found that networks met and exceeded this call in just one year, with a record-high percentage of LGBTQ series regulars on broadcast television at 10.2% of all series regulars. This is up from last year’s 8.8% (another record-high), and the highest GLAAD has found since the organization expanded to count all broadcast series regulars 15 years ago. Also, for the first time in this report’s history, LGBTQ regular and recurring women on broadcast outnumber LGBTQ men. Of the LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on broadcast, 53 percent are women, and 47 percent are men.

GlaadReport19WindowThe report also found that racial diversity of LGBTQ characters on broadcast and cable also increased significantly, while streaming saw a decrease. Of the 120 LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on broadcast, 62 (52%) are people of color, which is a two-percentage point increase from last year and six more characters. This is the second year in a row where LGBTQ people of color have outnumbered white LGBTQ people on broadcast, and the only platform which has hit the goal of having at least half of LGBTQ characters be characters of color.

Of the 215 LGBTQ characters counted on cable, 48% (103 characters) are people of color, which is an increase of two percentage points from last year. Of the 153 LGBTQ characters on streaming series, 41% (63) are people of color, which is a decrease of seven percentage points from last year.

Additional representation that is up this year across all platforms tracked (broadcast, cable, streaming) includes: the total number of transgender characters increased to 38 from 26; bisexual+ characters posted a slight increase in characters though a one percentage point drop overall; and there are nine characters with HIV/AIDS, an increase from the seven characters counted last year.

“Last year, GLAAD called on the television industry to increase the number of LGBTQ characters and more accurately reflect the world we live in, and they responded by exceeding this challenge,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO of GLAAD. “At a time when the cultural climate is growing increasingly divisive, increased representation of LGBTQ stories and characters on television is especially critical to advance LGBTQ acceptance. Shows like Pose, Schitt’s Creek, Batwoman, and Billions demonstrate that not only are LGBTQ stories and characters on TV becoming more diverse, but that viewers everywhere continue to respond with extreme positivity.”

GLAAD will discuss the findings and highlight a path forward for content creators at an event later today hosted by United Talent Agency (UTA). The event will feature a panel discussion around LGBTQ images on television moderated by Dino-Ray Ramos of Deadline, and will include GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis, UTA partner and television talent agent Jacob Fenton, Sabrina Jalees (Carol’s Second Act), Gloria Calderón Kellett (executive producer, showrunner, director, and actor, One Day at a Time), Nicole Maines (Supergirl), Marja-Lewis Ryan (executive producer and showrunner, The L Word: Generation Q), Brian Michael Smith (The L Word: Generation Q, Queen Sugar, 9-1-1: Lone Star), and remarks from GLAAD's Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis and report author Megan Townsend.

During the event, GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis will discuss the critical significance of LGBTQ stories and characters on television in light of today’s cultural climate. In response to the television industry exceeding the goal set by GLAAD in last year’s report, Ellis will now call on the industry to ensure that 20 percent of series regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast series are LGBTQ by 2025, as well as challenge all platforms to make sure that within the next two years, half of LGBTQ characters on every platform are people of color.

“This year's Where We Are on TV study found great progress towards a more LGBTQ-inclusive television landscape, and highlighted welcome increases of transgender men and queer women in upcoming programing,” said Megan Townsend, Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis at GLAAD. “However, it is also important to note that there is still work to be done. On cable TV, just three networks account for 44 percent of all LGBTQ representation on primetime scripted series. Similarly, programming from four dedicated producers and creators who prioritize inclusion, Greg Berlanti, Lena Waithe, Ryan Murphy, and Shonda Rhimes, accounts for 14 percent of total LGBTQ characters across broadcast, cable, and streaming originals. We hope to see all networks follow their lead, and work towards reflecting the reality of their audience and the culture.”

Additional findings include:

  • The report found a record-high percentage of Latinx series regulars (up to 9% from 8%), as well as a record-tying number of Black (held steady at 22%), and Asian Pacific Islander series regulars (held steady at 8%) across broadcast television regular characters.
  • Of the 879 series regular characters scheduled to appear on broadcast scripted primetime television this season, 90 (10.2%) are LGBTQ. There are an additional 30 LGBTQ recurring characters.
  • Of the 488 total regular and recurring LGBTQ characters on scripted primetime broadcast, cable, and streaming programs, only 38 (8%) are transgender, and they appear on only 28 shows.
  • Bisexual+ characters make up 26% of all LGBTQ characters across all three platforms. This is a one percent decrease from last year, and far from the reality that bisexual+ people make up the majority of the community.
  • Netflix again counts the highest number of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on their scripted originals among streaming services tallied, while Showtime is the most LGBTQ-inclusive network on cable. The CW is again the most LGBTQ-inclusive broadcast network, with 15.4% of series regulars counted as LGBTQ.
  • GLAAD found 109 regular LGBTQ characters on original scripted series on the streaming services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, an increase of 34 from last year’s tally. There are an additional 44 recurring LGBTQ characters, an increase of seven from last year. This is a total of 153 LGBTQ characters.
  • Broadcast hits a new record high percentage: 46% of regular characters counted on broadcast primetime television were women. This is up three percentage points from last year and a record high, but still underrepresents the reality that women make up 51% of the U.S. population.
  • This year, there is only one asexual character counted across all platforms, (Todd Chavez on Netflix's BoJack Horseman). This is a drop from two asexual characters last year.
  • The percentage of regular characters with a disability on broadcast is up to 27 characters or 3.1 percent. This is the highest percentage GLAAD has found, but still falls short of the U.S. population of people with disabilities.

GLAAD uses the data from the Where We Are on TV report in work throughout the year to advocate leaders in the TV industry to include more diverse and substantive LGBTQ representations that accelerate acceptance.

Photo: Noah Reid and Dan Levy in “Schitt’s Creek (Image courtesy PopTV).