LGBTQ characters are becoming more frequent on screens and that’s a reality. If you notice that too, you’re not conjecturing.
Approximately 12% of faces appearing across all broadcast networks belong to the LGBTQ community, as per the “Where We Are on TV” annual report of GLAAD. The report registers representation of LGBTQ across streaming, cable series, and broadcast for the 2021-22 season ending in May. GLAAD collaborates with various networks to double-check which characters are from the LGBTQ community.
That broadcast tally is up 2.8% points as compared to the report from last year and indicates a record-high percentage of LGBTQ characters in the 26 years of history since the support group started calculating their representation on TV.
The study for this year observed that out of the 775 regular characters booked to appear on scripted transmission primetime programs for the 2021-2022 season, 92 characters are queer, and that’s 11.9% of the total characters.
This progression wasn’t about the new record of the broadcast. Instead, the cable series as well followed an increase in representation, with 138 characters confirmed as LGBTQ community members, a significant increase from 118 during the last year, but a decline from 215 during 2022. Overall, the report recorded 637 LGBTQ members on TV.
GLAAD also took into consideration the five latest streaming platforms for its report. These services include Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Peacock, and Paramount+, which joined Hulu, Amazon, and Netflix. The added platforms, and a bunch of extra programming, directed GLAAD to enumerate 358 LGBTQ characters on streaming shows; a significant increase from 217 last year.
You might see much more of them because Netflix also had purchased a drama series based on Alice Oseman’s graphic novel Heartstopper. The project was being directed by Euros Lyn of See-Saw Films.
Netflix featured the most with 155 (as compared to 110 from last year), tailed by HBO Max with 71 characters and Hulu and Amazon and Hulu with 36 each (an increase from 19 and 12 respectively). Apple TV+ featured only six members, but the results are determined by the number of shows each platform offers.
On broadcast, CW featured the most representation from the LGBTQ community in primetime shows, followed by Fox. 56 characters or 40% were lesbians featured on the major networks; an increase from 34% last year. GLAAD found that in the fourth year on the trot, the most LGTBQ members on broadcast Television (58% this year) were characters of color.
Kudos to @TheCW for spearheading LGBTQ+ representation on US television, and thanks to @thecwwalker for contributing to this positive trend by giving us these two hotties and simultaneously advancing the much-needed representation of Asian queer characters on TV. #Walker #GLAAD https://t.co/jzFDb111zW pic.twitter.com/SqgDD6qnYD
— merle_p (@merlep01756164) February 17, 2022
“To see not only the numbers go up, but particularly to see improvement when it comes to parts of the community who have been left out of the story and left offscreen is a really great chance to see this year and something that we’re very excited about,” states Megan Townsend, director of entertainment research and analysis from GLAAD.
Townsend notes that the increasing number of lesbians appearing on screen is a significant change from the 2015-16 TV season when the “bury your gays” trope snowballed, in which queer and bisexual women were often killed. Pointing this out may have adduced change; the new statistics didn’t surprise Townsend at all.
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The report also mentioned that many of the areas can still use some improvement. As for one thing, no broadcasting channel has made any casting of characters that has majority numbers of LGBTQ community for a series that is scripted for a prime-time show, as these specific programmers, Showtime (“The L Word” and “Queer as Folk”), FX (“Pose”) or Netflix (“Q-Force”) has done.
“As we’re looking toward the next year of broadcast shows and seeing the success of a lot of these shows, there’s very much an opportunity here to bring in audiences who are currently turning to other platforms to find that programming. That’s where we really want to see broadcast step up in hopefully the next year or two, with introducing a show that is more along those lines,” Townsend says.
The general figures of Trans characters’ appearance on TV are greater than before, which rounds up to 13 characters seen over transmissions, cable, and streaming, mostly in comedies.
Townsend said, “Having trans characters in comedy shows where they get to own their story and make the jokes rather than be the object of the joke is such a powerful tool to connect with audiences but also let people laugh and find a connection in a way that is not dehumanizing.”.
For the study, GLAAD counted a total number of characters who have already appeared or are supposed to get featured on prime-time shows during the time period of June 1, 2021, to May 31, 2022. The staff of the organization monitors the show business year-round and gets the data on LGBTQ casting from within the networks and streaming platforms to get firm numbers.
The increasing number of queer characters appearing on TV screens is a positive sign for the LGBTQ community. These characters are finally getting the recognition they deserve and it’s an overall healthy development and a step in the right direction.
Excited to watch the series that takes a deeper insight into the LGBTQ community? Then you must watch I May Destroy You which is available on HBO and BBC iPlayer. It’s not the first time the two media behemoths have teamed up for this kind of project.