Few and far between: Openly gay actors Neil Patrick Harris, Zachary Quinto and Matt Bomer
A new report has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) actors continue to face discrimination in the US.
Despite the success of a number of mainstream gay films like Milk and Brokeback Mountain in Hollywood, few gay actors actually play gay roles.
It’s widely stated that many gay actors hesitate to be open about their sexuality for fear that it will affect their career.
Their concern appears to be supported by the first-of-its kind survey of over more that 800 American LGBT actors from the screen actors union SAG-AFTRA.
Almost half of lesbian and gay (LG) actors and 27 percent of bisexual actors surveyed strongly agreed that producers and studio executives think LG performers are less marketable.
Nine percent of LG actors and four percent of bisexual actors reported that they had been turned down for a role due to their sexual orientation.
Over a third of the over 800 LGBT performers surveyed said they’d witnessed disrespectful treatment that has also been noticed by non-LGBT performers. More than half of the LGB performers had heard anti-gay comments on set.
Overall, 16% of LGBT actors reported that they had experienced discrimination. Gay men were the most likely to report they have experienced some form of discrimination, with one in five reporting an experience.
“Coming out remains a significant and consequential decision for many performers,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel at a press conference in Los Angeles.
“Some study respondents felt that choosing to play an LGBT character limited future casting opportunities,” said Jody L. Herman, Peter J. Cooper Fellow and Manager of Transgender Research at the Williams Institute, which conducted the survey.
This was borne out by the fact that about one quarter of LGB actors who have played an LGBT role reported that the experience had an impact on their ability to get non-LGBT roles.
Better news is that fellow actors said they were supportive of the their LGBT colleagues coming out and that it appears that while homophobic discrimination continues in Hollywood, it does not appear to be getting worse
The union represents about 160,000 members and 5,692 members responded to the survey.