You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

GLAAD Report: Major Film Studios Fail to Increase LGBT Representation

Major film studios broadly fell short last year of increasing the number of characters in their movies that are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ), according to a new analysis issued Thursday by GLAAD.

Only 23 of the 125 films counted by the New York-based media advocacy group featured an LGBTQ character last year, accounting for less than 20 percent of films produced by the seven studios GLAAD rated in its report. The organization rates studios’ efforts as excellent, good, insufficient, poor, or failing.

No film studio has earned an “excellent” rating in the five years GLAAD has tracked LGBTQ representation. Universal Studios earned the highest mark, rating “insufficient” but it drew praise for films like “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” which featured an “unexpectedly well-handled subplot” involving a gay fraternity brother’s wedding engagement and how the pending nuptials strained his friendship with his former fraternity brother, Teddy, played by Zac Efron.

Earning “poor” ratings were 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, and Warner Bros. Lionsgate Entertainment, Sony Pictures, and Walt Disney Studios earned “failing” ratings.

Some art house divisions were also analyzed, but not part of the parent studio’s final rating. They included Fox Searchlight and Universal Picture’s Focus Features.

GLAAD’s annual Studio Responsibility Index is intended to pressure top movie studios to feature more LGBTQ characters and in more meaningful ways. Too often, GLAAD says, LGBTQ characters appear only briefly in films or in service of a joke. Of the films featuring LGBTQ characters, only nine passed the report’s Vito Russo test, a measurement that examines how well-rounded and integral the character is in the film.

Drawing a contrast between television and film, GLAAD said major studios are lagging their TV counterparts in boosting the number of LGBTQ roles.

“It is not getting better,” GLAAD president and chief executive, Sarah Kate Ellis, tells Variety. “The bars are not being moved.”

Ellis nonetheless says she is optimistic representation of LGBTQ characters will improve, pointing to Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” live-action remake, released in March, as an example.

LeFou, sidekick to villain, Gaston, is gay and in the final moments of the film, LeFou dances with a man during the ball sequence. The inclusion of a gay character in the reboot of a Disney classic stirred controversy, particularly abroad. Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation where sodomy is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and whipping, initially objected to the scene, pressing for it to be cut. Disney stood firm, resisting any edits to the film, and exhibitors eventually showed the movie in full. In Russia, viewership was restricted to those 16 and older.

The film went on to become one of Disney’s most successful films, grossing more than $1.2 billion worldwide.

At a time when countries like Chechnya are committing human rights violations against suspected LGBTQ individuals, including kidnapping, torture and murder, it’s more important than ever to focus on representation in film, the country’s largest cultural export, Ellis says.

“Having representation, especially in the films that are widely distributed not only here in the States, they change hearts and minds,” Ellis says. “They allow people who are LGBTQ to see themselves reflected. That’s why it’s so important.”

For all the fanfare surrounding “Moonlight,” the 2016 film released by A24, the number of LGBTQ individuals of color declined for the second year in a row, according to the report. Last year, 20 percent of the 70 LGBTQ characters identified by GLAAD were people of color, compared with 32.1% in 2014.

Gay men are featured far more often than other members of the LGBTQ community, the report found. GLAAD found only one transgender character featured in Paramount’s “Zoolander 2,” and criticized the depiction of the character, played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

Ellis says studios should labor to stop using LGBTQ characters as the punch line or punching bag. “That’s a good step in the right direction.”

GLAAD‘s breakdown of films by major studio:

20th Century Fox: 16 films, three included LGBTQ characters. Two films passed Vito Russo test.
Lionsgate Entertainment: 24 films, three included LGBTQ characters. One film passed the Vito Russo test.
Paramount Pictures: 15 films, five included appearances by LGBTQ characters. Three films passed the Vito Russo test.
Sony Pictures: 21 films, two included appearances by LGBTQ characters. One film passed the Vito Russo test.
Universal Pictures: 17 films, five included appearances by LGBTQ people. Two films passed the Vito Russo test.
Walt Disney Studios: 13 films, one included an appearance by LGBTQ characters. None passed the Vito Russo test.
Warner Brothers: 19 films, four included appearances by LGBTQ characters. None passed the Vito Russo test.

More Film

  • Macon Blair27th Annual Gotham Independent Film

    Macon Blair to Direct and Write 'Toxic Avenger' Reboot for Legendary (EXCLUSIVE)

    Macon Blair has been tapped to write and direct Legendary’s reboot of the cult classic “The Toxic Avenger,” sources tell Variety. Legendary acquired the feature film rights in December and have quickly made the project a high priority at the studio. Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz of Troma Entertainment will serve as producers with Alex [...]

  • Danny Boyle Bond 25

    Danny Boyle Calls His Exit From 'Bond 25' a 'Great Shame'

    Director Danny Boyle has finally spoken out after leaving the upcoming 25th James Bond movie over creative differences. After splitting from the new 007 flick last August, Boyle told Empire in a story published on Thursday that the script he penned with his “Trainspotting” co-writer John Hodge “wasn’t finished, but it could have been really [...]

  • Film Review: 'Everybody's Everything'

    Film Review: 'Everybody's Everything'

    An elegiac documentary exploring the brief life of rapper Lil Peep, “Everybody’s Everything” certainly doesn’t lack for perspectives. Interviewing virtually everyone who knew the musician (born Gustav Ahr), directors Sebastian Jones and Ramez Silyan cover the waterfront, from Peep’s family to his girlfriends, his innumerable collaborators, his managers and his fans, trying to distill exactly [...]

  • A Brinks armored truck pulls into

    Layoffs Hit Fox After Disney Completes Deal

    Layoffs have hit Fox following the entertainment company’s sale to Disney. The staff cuts are hitting employees at the SVP, EVP, and president level. Senior staff is expected to be among the first to be impacted. However, the cuts will be deep, with the ax falling hardest of Fox’s film team. There could be as [...]

  • Emily Blunt in Talks for Inspirational

    Emily Blunt in Talks to Star in Annapurna Drama 'Not Fade Away'

    Emily Blunt is in negotiations to star in Annapurna’s inspirational drama “Not Fade Away” with David O. Russell and John Krasinski producing. The project is based on Rebecca Alexander’s 2015 memoir “Not Fade Away: A Memoir of Senses Lost and Found.” Alexander was born with a rare genetic mutation called Usher syndrome type III and [...]

  • Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marco Graf

    Alfonso Cuaron's 'Roma' Nabs Nine Nominations for 6th Premios Platino

    As was widely anticipated, Alfonso Cuaron’s triple Oscar-winning “Roma” dominated the 6th Premios Platino nominations, unveiled Thursday at Hollywood’s legendary Roosevelt Hotel, the site of the very first Oscars. It snagged a total of nine nominations, including best film, director, art direction, cinematography, and acting for its two Oscar-nominated actresses, Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de [...]

  • Stephen Bruno

    Stephen Bruno Exits Netflix for Top Marketing Job at MGM

    Netflix global marketing chief Stephen Bruno has exited his post for MGM, where he has been named chief marketing officer. His departure follows that of Netflix CMO Kelly Bennett and marks a major shake-up for the streaming giant. Bruno had been with the streamer since 2014, and is known as an innovator. He joins MGM [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content