Study Finds Bias Persists Against Gay and Lesbian Actors

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Over one-third of respondents report 'disrespectful' treatment

A SAG-AFTRA study has found that, even as opportunities and conditions improve, discrimination persists against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender actors.

The survey, based on responses from over 5,600 union members, showed nearly half of lesbian and gay respondents and 27% of bisexual respondents “strongly agreed” that producers and studio execs believe that lesbian and gay performers are less marketable.

The report also found that over a third of LGBT performers, as well as some non-LGBT performers, had witnessed “disrespectful” treatment toward these minorities. And 16% of LGBT respondents reported they had experienced discrimination.

“Gay men were the most likely to report they have experienced some form of discrimination, with one in five reporting an experience,” the union said. “Bisexual actors were about half as likely to report discrimination as gay or lesbian actors.”

The report by SAG-AFTRA and UCLA’s The Williams Institute found one-third of survey respondents believed that casting directors, directors, and producers may be biased against LGBT performers. The survey, released Friday at the first-ever SAG-AFTRA convention, also showed over half of LGBT performers had heard anti-gay comments on set.

Respondents also said SAG-AFTRA members provide a supportive environment for LGBT performers. Additionally, many lesbian and gay respondents said they would encourage others to come out.

“We were pleased to see that our membership is overwhelmingly supportive of LGBT actors, and that many LGBT actors found benefits in coming out,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel. “Nonetheless, coming out remains a significant and consequential decision for many performers and we are committed to supporting our members in living honest and authentic personal and professional lives.”

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  1. Mike says:

    It’s not just the gay actors. It’s all LGTB employees in the entertainment industry. Name any division in the industry, and there is discrimination and it’s widespread.

  2. Evan75 says:

    Let me see, “Discrimination” as in “The role in this movie doesn’t call for a GAY MAN?!” Yeah.. if I were you, I’d be prepared for a lot more of THAT kind of discrimination. Just 3.4% of USA is gay, and here’s the special interest groups clamoring as usual for 50% representation. Make sense?

  3. Sargon says:

    Another thought: George Will once said that “Homosexuality has gone from ‘the love that dare not speak its name’ to ‘the love that never shuts up.'” Here’s an outstanding example.

  4. Sargon says:

    This survey proves nothing. Look at the first line: “A SAG-AFTRA study has found that, even as opportunities and conditions improve, discrimination persists against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender actors.” And then look at the third paragraph: “The report by SAG-AFTRA and UCLA’s The Williams Institute found one-third of survey respondents believed that casting directors, directors, and producers may be biased against LGBT performers.” The lede would have us believe that discrimination absolutely exists. The report actually found that homosexual respondents believed that directors, etc., MAY be biased. It’s a crappy survey since it doesn’t measure anything and Variety is obviously advancing a certain position judging by the lede.

  5. Mr.Bobo says:

    I can’t believe the hurtful comments out there. I am not mentally impaired It was discrimination. In the 70s that how things were,even my agent told me it was expected of straight men like myself to give some head to get ahead. I was young and didn’t know any better. After suffering a car crash I had broken my front teeth I couldn’t afford to get them fixed. I found out later a producer who had seduced me,gave me the cruel nickname woodchipper it was all over town I was finished. I’m happy now at the bowling alley and have a wonderful lady friend named Jillian.

  6. Spend less time being budhurt over whatever and more time being enjoyable to be around and things WILL get better gaze.

  7. Rock Hudson managed to be very successful in Hollywood because no one knew his sexual proclivities. There’s some wisdom in there somewhere.

  8. brownsfan says:

    I’ve got an idea. Keep your sexuality to yourself whose business is it anyway who you have Alex with.

  9. Joe Davis says:

    Gayz want everyone to accept Gaydom. Those who don’t are “Haters”. Bow down or bow out.

  10. Moe Lester says:

    Hey Jenny Mr Bobo did keep his chin up! That’s how he landed his minor roles. Lol this guy is obviously mentally impaired. He probably gobbled knob to get the bowling alley gig. No amount of therapy will help him or others in Hollywood!!

  11. Mark1 says:

    Most don’t have anything against gays, they just don’t want agendas constantly shoved down their throats. There is almost no modern media that is anti-gay, nor racist against non-whites. I believe that media is virulently anti-white. Everything I watch disgusts or offends me in some way…movies, television, sports, even commercials. I’ve learned to turn the garbage off.

  12. Jenny Tayla says:

    In response to Mr.Bobo’s comment: I’m an actress and a Christian woman, and would never think about “speaking into the mike” to get any kind of role. The fact that you claim you are not “gay” is absurd. You caused your own downfall by giving in to temptation and greed. You could have sternly declined and kept your chin up to pursue other jobs. You claim that you’re happy working at a bowling alley ,but I think you need therapy to address your homosexual past.

  13. MIsty1CA says:

    ll lets look at this way. I personally don’t care what people do behind closed doors as long as they are not abusing children. The reason that they feel that way is becsause they are only 4% of the population. If that much. The rest of us really don;t want to watch gays and lesbians kissing each other. That is not a prejudice, itis s just that not every one sees things they they do. There are more blacks and gay/lesbians on TV than ever before. You are not being exiled. Its just that no one wants to watcxh it.

  14. Eric says:

    The disrespectful nd pejorative comments are unacceptable, but in an industry Scandinavians marketability are paramount, it is fair to.worry about casting an openly gay actor in a role where it may not play well to the audience. Anne Hece as a romantic interest with a man after she came out is a good example.

  15. Janet Gomez says:

    Homosexuals in Hollywood? Hollywood has a bias against anyone who doesn’t score at the box office. Gee, it’s usually against conservatives.

    Will these “ungay (unhappy)” folks every be happy and stop complaining? They’ve got to get over themselves …”heard anti-gay comments”…”disrespect”…really? Maybe Hollywood just doesn’t like whiners.

  16. Dutch says:

    Let me get this straight… the gay percentage of the population is more/less 3%, and of the top 10 T.V. shows currently on television- 90% have a prominently gay character who is portrayed in a positive light, and yet the gay community is still crying discrimination?

    • Casca says:

      Gays , Jews and Blacks are far over represented in the movies.
      I mean that literally, not as a rant.
      When was the last time you saw an Asian, Hindu, Inuit, Native American or Christian characters in a movie in a lead role ?

  17. cassie says:

    Oh, all you activists, do get over it! Homosexuals are a small minority of the population, SOME of whom demand to be considered mainstream. Gay activists should be realists, not fascists.

    Most gays of my acquaintance, in fact, are quite decent citizens and pleasant companions. Like heterosexuals, gays have the right to privacy in the bedroom. A small but unfortunately vocal minority wish to alter this situation. Tacky..

    Some incompetent will always be willing to jump on a politically correct bandwagon and claim injustice has been done.

    Remember P.T. Barnum’s dictum: “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste/intelligence of the American public”, which is closely related to the same man’s “”There’s a sucker born every minute”.

  18. Granoladiva says:

    Ok- This is not a “study” it is a survey, based on individual perceptions. I am an actor (female & straight) & member of the union- any actor can claim that producers, directors, or casting directors exhibit bias for a million different reasons- too fat, too thin, too tall, too short,too gay, too straight, too ugly, and yes, even too pretty.
    The “decision people” who do the hiring are trying to fulfill the creative vision of their project in away that will appeal to and be marketable to viewers, And make money.
    On any given day in Hollywood the best actors for the job are not always the ones hired for the job, they might have the most talent & best resume but they don’t fit the essence of the character as the producer, etc envision it. That is just how it goes. It is a very competitive business & you have to have a thick skin to survive it, knowing sometimes you may be the best person for the job but you still may not book it. But I believe every audition & job is about developing relationships, so if you don’t book this time they’ll think of you for the next one & that goes for anyone gay, straight or in between.
    Regarding discrimination on a set- I am shocked by this & have never been witness to any such behavior- I have lots of gay friends in the business & have never heard any reports like this, however, often if you are overly sensitive about an issue, be it, sexuality, gender, skin color, weight, whatever, you are much more likely to perceive any slight has to do with that issue- and it is not always the case- maybe you think you didn’t get the job because you are gay (or whatever category you choose) it may have been because you reminded the producer of his mother in law! You never know. It is a subjective, unfair business & but if you are strong & determined and tenacious, and maintain a positive attitude you can be successful.
    I am sure there are incidents of true discrimination but I do not believe it is wide spread- I work in this industry and it is probably one of the most LGBT friendly businesses around.

  19. Mr. Bobo says:

    I’m not a gay man, but early in my career I had to “speak into the mike” at auditions it was the only way to get minor roles. I know word got around, and I was discriminated against for being “gay”.this absolutely prevented me from getting bigger parts. I know I was good and audiences loved my craft. It ended my career,today I work at a bowling alley,but I’m happy.

  20. Liberace says:

    If a straight person hangs thier sexuality out there, they are equally mocked. Jersey Shore cast comes immediately to mind. Pamela Anderson did the same and she is viewed as an unsanitary skank. Hep-C and all.
    Your sex life is not viewed favorably if it is in the public eye. Do your thing and shut up about it.

  21. Liberace says:

    It is the rare straight actor/actress that ought to be picketing.

  22. Charlie G. says:

    We already have a group of Male leads that have a hard time playing believable tough guy roles ( see previous HR stories) . Hollywood is smart enough to know that once a man or woman comes out it is hard for the audience to believe they are into their onscreen hetro-sexual love interest. I am sure some will find a way to be offended by this truth. But that so called chemistry is spoiled by the little bit of reality put in the audience mind by the very actors and actresses that came out. So it may in fact be audience bias trickle down to those at studios and in casting. This may not make gay people happy – but it is proof that if they want to tell the world what they do in the bedroom – despite the fact that NO ONE REALLY CARED TO KNOW – they then have to live with the fact that the audiences no longer believe they are getting excited about falling in love with the opposite sex. They keep up the image of the super life – happiness, super healthy, great hair – no wrinkles for as long as they can – but once you tell people what you do in the bedroom – no one believes the fantasy if it is a contradiction.

  23. Fastgirl says:

    Hollywood discriminates against other groups but you don’t seem to have a problem with that. Maybe all of you all who like to complain about how much Hollywood discriminates against you are just lousy actors.

  24. Tang says:

    Note to Gays and Lesbians – you can find a judge to allow you to get married, but you can’t make people like you, even in Hollyweird.

  25. FAIRTV says:

    The 98 percent of the movie going audience who are straight don’t want to see “Gay” actors. Why is that so hard to comprehend?

  26. chrisd says:

    Perhaps they’re not as marketable because 98% of the American public is not gay?

  27. Publicus says:

    Too bad…so sad…and nobody really gives a damn.

  28. Jack Morecock says:

    I vote for more hot lesbians on TV and movies

  29. K LeBeouf says:

    Who’s the guy (got to be) who used the term “turd burglar” you seem fixated on what gays do in bed perhaps???? You do understand the your comments just diminish who you are as a person, the creditably of your view point and illustrates the hell that must be your left to have this much blind hatred. I actually feel sorry for you.

    • Liberace says:

      When I was young, my parents were merciful enough not to share thier sexual likes and quirks with this seven year old. The gay community can’t seem to figure that out..
      What the gay community has failed to realize, is that THEY are putting thier sexual orientation out there for comment. Sooo, the public comments, and…BIG SURPRISE!!…the comments aren’t all favorable.
      GROW UP

    • Jack Curran says:

      Your use of English, grammar and your ability to edit simply, diminish you as a commenter.

  30. Bob Roberts says:

    Basically those who have not enough talent to get hired and can’t accept that fact blame their life choices regarding sexuality, which allows them to transfer the blame to others, instead of their lack of talent. This study measures opinions, not facts. It’s no surprise that a great deal of actors and actresses choose to believe they’re being treated unfairly instead of just accepting they need to concentrate on their day job and give up dreams of being the next great actor or actress.

  31. Hannah says:

    I think the term is “survey,” not “study.” Asking people how they feel about something proves nothing.

  32. Bob Roberts says:

    CORRECT! This ‘study’ does not prove anything other than the fact the LGBTQ community is desperate to establish that they are victims as a pretense to demanding special treatment and such – no doubt we’ll eventually see a lawsuit citing this study, which measures OPINION, not fact, as ‘proof’ of discrimination.

    Your statement, “STOP WHINING” was apropos.

  33. K LeBeouf says:

    Growing up in the late 1980’s, the only characters that I saw in movies and on TV were the flamboyant, over-the-top famine characters that rarely had a name and were probably officially titles “hair dresser” or florist. Until I “came out”, I thought I was a minority within a minority because I love football, cars, hate all malls and shopping. I’m happy that the world can now see that gay people come in just about every type as straight people. Honestly, I also find the term “breaders” that some gay people use offensive. Not all gay people are nice.

  34. dave72 says:

    Baloney! Gays are 2 to 3% of the population, yet virtually every new book, movie, TV series, with 10 main characters is written to have one or two gay/lesbians in the main characters. They are way over represented in modern media.

    • K LeBeouf says:

      Because we’re the one’s doing the writing, brainiac. Why would a gay person discriminate against themselves? If you want more people like yourselves on screen who seem to have problems with gay people, I suggest you get good at writing and quickly because some of our best writers though history were gay.

      • Sargon says:

        Maybe, K; but for every good homosexual writer in history you can name, I can name about fifty heterosexual writers. The same is true for artists and composers. You see, K; for decades, homosexuals have been claiming “we’re just like everyone else but we only have sex differently.” I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. I work around a bunch of homosexuals and generally don’t have a problem with them. I just wish that they were less focused on their homosexuality and more on the work they’re supposed to be doing.

      • get over yourself says:

        Doesn’t that mean that you, as a writer that only writes about gays, are the one discriminating? I could use the argument that if you wanted to change Hollywood you could become a billionaire and buy a studio and make movies that had nothing but gay and lesbian actors and then the discrimination you see in Hollywood is a moot point?

      • No wonder the movies suck lately. I see why now…. xD

  35. Nick Cee says:

    “27% of bisexual respondents “strongly agreed” that producers and studio execs believe that lesbian and gay performers are less marketable.” This is because they ARE less marketable. I am an investment banker and I have interviewed many qualified job applicants with visible tattoos (past their cuff, on neck, etc). While I cant tell them the reason I cant hire them, many times the reason is because of their tattoos. They are less marketable to people with money. I personally don’t care but I have bosses to whom I report. Viewers would rather not have a person’s sexuality be a part of their persona. It’s especially hard for gay men who wish to act in romantic leads. It’s rarely going to happen. It’s business. I don’t make the rules and neither do you. The viewers make the rules and the producer will cast a cross dressing orangoutang if it makes the project money!

  36. “Study”. Lol. Not a study. Some people asked mad people a question that allowed them to blame their failings on being a victim.

  37. KR Rayberry says:

    You have to be kidding me with this story. Hollywood worships gays, they have TV show specifically “celebrating” the gay lifestyle. It is so common anymore that most take the offensive jokes/actions in the media as a relatively minor thing. If anyone is being discriminated against its a straight white guy.

  38. The problem is there are way to many straight actors and actresses lining up for the gay and lesbian rolls. Why did Matt Damon and Michael Douglas have to hog the Liberace story?

    • Dave says:

      They’re good actors that bring in big audiences. That’s how business works.

    • Kenghis Khan says:

      Because they are marketable actors. It’s all about making money. Always was, always will be. The
      ratings for the show proved it. I’m curiious, what gay actors do you believe would have had equally good ratings?

  39. sangeo says:

    WHAT?.. discriminastion from inside Hollywood, well I don’t believe that these bastions of liberal, progressive, democrat heros and heroines would act that way.

    • Joe says:

      No one cares if you are gay if you can act. Bottom line, which is why I call BS on this article. Every single one of you is surrounded by gays on a daily basis. They are your bosses, instructors, co-workers, and yes film stars. I used to think I had gaydar, but I have met many people I would have never suspected to be gay in a position of power and not a thing has changed about how I perceive them. Did you feel any different when you found out Rick from Walking Dead was British or Brody from Homeland was British? So why would you care if you actors are gay? Many people on these forums sound 12 years old with the inflammatory gay comments. Just saying.

  40. glenp says:

    everywhereI look I see flamers and butch types portrayed as teh status quo. I agree discrimination and they get the advantage

  41. absinthe says:

    The years are long past when gay actors like Rock Hudson, Charles Laughton et alii; bi-gay actors like Cary Grant, Clark Gable et alii; and lesbians like Tallulah Bankhead, Greta Garbo et alia had to hide their sexual orientation. Variety behaves as if we all lived in the ’50s, under the cloud of Maoism and McCarthyism. I hope that we are beyond this.

  42. Nunnya says:

    “Bisexual actors were about half as likely to report discrimination as gay or lesbian actors.” Well, mathematically…..that’s about right.

  43. Fergy Turf says:

    And they start killing themselves….

  44. Mike says:

    Wonder what the percentage would be if you asked how many Christians were discriminated against in Hollywood? I think the so-called tolerance crowd would be even more exposed.

  45. Bernie Bouck says:

    You can’t force me to be entertained, I’ll, just, take my money elsewhere ! Even the gummint’ can’t force me to like it !

  46. bernie says:

    I’m a consumer and my money,not politics, runs this industry ! When I see a show where the host
    or the guests are DROOLING all over each other, I watch something else….TV and movie media is no place to work out social problems !
    If you’re an actor, then act, it has nothing to do with your agenda. Hollywood was built on deception !

  47. Jon Doe says:

    I would love to see the evidence of the discrimination that is being claimed here. This is more of the same folks. Group identity politics. These leftist groups—-UNION groups—- now seem to feel that being the “victim” of discrimination is something to be proud of. Like it is and achievement. They will find a way to make themselves victims and whine for the government to use force to get special privileges over anything.The idea that Hollywood is discriminating against gays is just ridiculous. They are pandered to by these progressives over everything. Same as every other protected species of the left. I’m not buying it for a second. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving group than Hollywood producers though.

  48. Greg says:

    Oh please— you can’t flip a channel without finding homosexuality today. It’s constantly in your face. Yet another reason to turn it all off permanently. Movies have been crap for years and TV writing is completely uninspired. When a decent show does come on it gets juggled around the schedule until viewers can’t remember when it’s on. There’s a good reason that homosexuals aren’t found as being marketable — the majority of people find homosexuality distasteful at best. So they’re upset that we won’t watch when they try to cram their “lifestyle” down our throats? Tough.

  49. Jerry T says:

    I know one thing for sure – George Clooney, John Travolta, Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman and a few others are NOT gay…..much.

  50. Stoney says:

    This is what happens when people come out of the closet. Everyone knows. That might be OK in the design industry, but in real life people will not accept actors/actresses in any kind of heterosexual role. Just human nature, no offense.

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