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GLAAD: LGBTQ Series Regulars on Broadcast TV Hit All-Time High

The percentage of LGBTQ series regulars on broadcast television in the 2019-2020 season has reached a record high of 10.2%, according to GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report,” up from 8.8% in the previous season. That’s 90 out of 879 series regulars on broadcast scripted primetime TV.

The study also found that LGBTQ women in series regular or recurring roles on broadcast TV outnumbered LGBTQ men, 53% to 47%, for the first time since the media and advocacy organization began tracking inclusion figures.

“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 GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement. “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.”

This season, there are more on-screen characters who are transgender, bisexual+ and who have HIV/AIDS, but the yearly accounting of LGBTQ representation on TV, now in its 24th year, found that inclusion has not risen uniformly across all TV formats for LGBTQ people of color.

On broadcast and cable shows, racial diversity of LGBTQ characters rose “significantly,” per the report. As of this season, 52% of the 120 LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on broadcast networks are people of color, and 48% of the 215 LGBTQ characters on cable TV are people of color, both marking an increase of two percentage points from the prior-year figures. But on streaming networks, a category that includes Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, representation of LGBTQ characters of color fell seven percentage points to 41% of the 153 on direct-to-consumer platforms.

The CW once again earned the top spot as the most LGBTQ-inclusive broadcast network, with 15.4% of series regulars identifying as LGBTQ, while Showtime is the most inclusive on cable.

Of the streamers, Netflix has the highest number of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on scripted originals, according to the report. And between Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, the three platforms’ programming have 109 regular LGBTQ characters on scripted originals, 34 more than last season, and 44 recurring LGBTQ characters, an increase of seven from the prior year.

“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, GLAAD’s director of entertainment research and analysis. “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.” 

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