TV Still Lacking in Racially Diverse LGBT Characters, According to GLAAD Report

orange is the new black laverne
Courtesy of JoJo Whilden/Netflix

It’s still a white man’s world for LGBT characters on scripted series but diversification is improving, according to GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report.

This year’s report from the LGBT-focused media advocacy organization analyzed the overall diversity of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks, as well as the diversity on cable and, for the first time, counted LGBT characters on original series that premiered on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix.

The findings tracked scripted series which air or are expected to air in primetime between June 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016 for which casting has been announced. They learned that, of the 881 regular characters expected to appear on broadcast primetime programming (ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC) in the coming year, 35 (4%) were identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual with an additional 35 LGB characters recurring. This is up from 32 from last year.

On cable, the numbers rose from 64 to 84, while recurring characters increased from 41 to 58. ABC Family and Showtime were the most LGBT-inclusive networks on cable, with each channel boasting 18 regular or recurring LGB characters. They were also the only places to find the three recurring transgender characters on cable. There were no transgender characters on primetime broadcast programming.

While bisexual characters, particularly bisexual men, did see an increase on broadcast and cable for this year, GLAAD determined that many characters were still written in a stereotypical fashion.

However, GLAAD found 43 LGBT series regulars and 16 recurring characters across 23 series on streaming services Amazon, Netflix and Hulu. Due to the lack of traditional seasons for these providers, GLAAD determined these numbers based on both original content and foreign series premiering between June 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016 and for which casting has been announced by the content providers.

“Each of us lives at the intersection of many identities and it’s important that television characters reflect the full diversity of the LGBT community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO & President of GLAAD. “It is not enough to just include LGBT characters; those characters need to be portrayed with thought and care to accurately represent an often tokenized community.”

The GLAAD study also found that racial diversity within these characters was still notably lacking, as 71% of LGBT characters on cable and 73% of those on streaming services were white. On broadcast, things were more positive: 33% (287) of 881 regular characters counted on primetime scripted broadcast programming were people of color, making for a six-point increase from last year. GLAAD also found that 16% (145) of regular characters on broadcast programming will be black — the highest percentage since the group began recording comprehensive racial data 11 years ago.

GLAAD also found that 43% of regular LGBT characters on primetime broadcast programming are women, which is an increase of three percentage points from last year. Fox has the most female series regulars (48% of their characters). This category was also lacking in racial diversity. There are 135 series regulars of color on broadcast, 59 of whom are black women, followed by 33 Latinas, 27 Asian Pacific-Islander women and 16 women who belong to another ethnicity or are multiracial (12%). On cable, 44% of the LGBT characters are female while 56% are male. On streaming services, those numbers switch.

“The critical and commercial success of series like ‘Empire,’ ‘Transparent,’ and ‘Orange Is the New Black’ can serve as an example to network executives that audiences are looking for stories they haven’t seen before; indeed, there are still plenty of stories about our community yet to be told,” added Ellis. “LGBT people of color have remained underrepresented for years, and transgender men have been all but invisible in the media.”

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  1. Chicago860 says:

    Let’s do it by the numbers. 3.4 percent of all characters should be LGBT. Similarly, 3.4 percent of the A/b/C stories should be LGBT. Now. Take a look at prime time television. The numbers far exceed that. Sorry. It ain’t playin’ in Peoria.

  2. Cole says:

    Do the tears EVER stop flowing at glaad? Give it a F-ing rest, will ‘ya?

  3. Enough of this Social Justice Warrior “diversity” insanity. There has been too much already. This forced casting is destroying television.

  4. JOE S HILL says:

    I Sincerely hope that the LGBT and GLAAD factions taste serious obsticles and resistance,when they bitch and whine about why Primetime TV is reluctant to promote these self chosen people,and their perverse lifestyles,which isn’t mine,or anybody else’s business,BUT THEIR OWN! what TV viewer,in their right mind,wants to see Gays and Lesbians indulge in their same sex behaviors-is that going to boast the ratings? maybe on some Adult Channel or porn site,,but whatever is left of Primetime these days,it still isn’t for the likes of these Homosexuals,,and jeers to NBC and Sony Pictures TV,for entertaining the insane idea of reviving the “HART TO HART” series,which originated on ABC in Fall 1979,with Robert Wagner and Stephanie Powers-they want to make a Gay version of the series,,may it seriously fail and burn! but then,NBC today,stands for “Nothing But Crap”,,as they are millions of years past their “Must See TV” time period of the mid-late 90s,,and it has to be sheer desperation for these people to come up
    with an idea,like turning a once popular Arron Spelling series,into some LGBT fantasy,,laters with that!
    so what’s next,,”Gays Of Our Lives”,,”LGBT,American Style”,,”The GAY Team”,,,

  5. the more homosexuals on tv the more i tune out. one day when viewership is down, advertisers may get the message that families don’t want to have to watch a couple of guys making out.

    • Truck says:

      I, nor anyone in my extended family watch anything featuring homosexuals and lesbians. And we never will. Nor do we care what names the homosexuals come up with to call us. Could not care less. Homosexuals should realize they will never be universally accepted and they could never, ever win a name-calling contest.

    • Micahel J says:

      TV viewership for the networks is at records lows, the worst since ratings have been recorded, and they STILL don’t understand it’s all this gay crap. They truly don’t seem to get it.

  6. Joe M says:

    Are you kidding me? You must live in a foreign country to make such a DISTASTEFUL statement, we have seen more DIVERSE ETHNIC characters now then EVER before. You cannot turn on any Channel in this ONCE GREAT country without an ETHNIC character on them WHAT A LIBERAL IDIOT TO WRITE SUCH AN ARTICLE.

  7. Daniel Bartlow Hart says:

    I certainly don’t have the statistics to debate anyone on this field. I can say that I see far more people of diverse backgrounds on television shows, I see shows that are PRIMARILY staffed with one type of minority or another, and I see networks dedicated to showing program that is particularly ONE WAY about some issues. So I think the variety is increasing rapidly. I also think that the demographics of TV influences by degree, that which appears ON IT. Clearly if you have a time period that is heavy on southern Baptists you probably don’t want to put your new gay and lesbian comedy into that bit of prime time. So, while I support variety I am also aware that the offerings tend to change at the speed at which the population is changing. I would expect that when the Hispanic population reaches 30 to 50 % then a similar number of shows will probably become aimed primarily at that audience. What MAY be coming and I hope it doesn’t, is that a segmented nation that is “together but not blended and is not going to be blended anytime soon” doesn’t end up with White Night, Black Night, Asian Night, Hispanic Night, Gay Night and FOOTBALL ALL WEEKEND. Mostly I fear the latter.

  8. Gary says:

    When is Variety going to discontinue their comments section? It’s nothing but a bunch of hateful bigots foaming at the mouth over things that really don’t affect their lives one iota.

  9. Herman says:

    Glaad is about as F***ked as a group can be. Bunch of losers. If they disappeared from the face of the earth, the earth would be grateful.

  10. MarkBBBB says:

    Yet another reason why I stopped watching TV and Hollywood years ago.

  11. You have to be joking. Nearly every show on the air has a leading gay character or couple, and now we’re being “treated” to extended homosexual love scenes on broadcast tv.

  12. Wes says:

    Is this for real. You people are flat out sick and it’s one of the major problems with our country today. Life is no longer about hard work or who actually qualifies. It about complaining and whining. I’m gay and I didn’t get the part, or I’m a female and didn’t get it. You get the point the list goes on and on. I saw a awards show last week that even had a post the day after that they were outraged that no gay actor got a award. Really? Are you serious? This is so absurd. Surely if you just want a award because your different and not because you earned it you should seek counseling. That goes for the ones who actually take these stupid surveys and act like everybody deserves to be in top movies. Your nits. All you die is ruin the movie. But hey. What do you care. At least you can say they have a gay guy a part. Doesn’t matter if the movie bombs. You actually call it success. Kinda sick.

    • JOE S HILL says:

      Wes,nobody here is sick-what’s really sick,is when Homosexuals think that their lifestyle is an okay,everyday sort of thing-and i’m sorry mister,but it isn’t! if you’re Gay,then that’s YOUR business.
      why do we really need to know who’s Gay,,what relevance can that possibly have? the whole damn GLAAD thing,is ridiculous and stupid,because i don’t care how honest any of you people are about your chosen sexual orientations,it isn’t our business,and it will always be treated with prompt honesty! Gays are getting a lot of favortism,and special treatment,,but that still doesn’t change the way things are meant to be! we are NOT “nits”,nor do we all “die” is ruin the movie,,check your spelling,because that ain’t making it!

  13. MorganManfree says:

    Every group is always going to say they are woefully unrepresented. Most people will simply choose to ignore them.

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