GLAAD, who were formerly known as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, have released their 20th annual report which tracks the number of LGBT characters on scripted primetime television.
While the study did find that the number of LGBT characters is increasing, the characters are overwhelmingly white. The study found that on broadcast networks, 69% of gay characters are white, 7% are Latino, 19% are black, and 6% are Asian. On cable and streaming platforms, 71% and 73% of gay characters are white, respectively.
However, while this statistic shows a heavy dominance of white characters on TV, the study also found a 6% increase in gay characters of colour from the year before.
Sarah Kate, GLAAD’s president, has said that TV show creators need to work harder: “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. It is not enough to just include LGBT characters; those characters need to be portrayed with thought and care to accurately represent an often tokenised community.”
They also found that 4% of all regular characters on primetime, scripted shows on ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and the CW are LGBT, which is up 1% from the year previous.
As for how many of these characters were female, they ranked in at just under half, with 43% of LGBT characters being female. However, this is also up from last year by 3%.
GLAAD’s study also found that there were more LGBT characters on Cable, and also that streaming services such as Netflix had an even higher representation. mazon, Netflix and Hulu have 43 regular LGBT characters in 23 original series. Unsurprisingly, the hit show Orange is the New Black got a mention, as it has the highest number of lesbian and gay characters in the study.
As for Hulu, the two programmes which had the highest amount of representation were soaps: Hollyoaks and Coronation Street.
For transgender people, though, this study may be a bit of a disappointment. They found that the increased visibility for transgender people and trans issues hasn’t translated into a higher representation in TV shows. Of course, shows such as Transparent have seen success, but there were only seven regular or recurring characters in all broadcast, cable and streaming networks.