New record high for LGBTQ characters on US TV

There are more LGBTQ characters on US television than ever before

Star Trek Discovery features several LGBTQ characters

There are more LGBTQ characters on US television and major streaming platforms than ever before.

The media advocacy group GLAAD released the findings of its 17th annual Where We Are on TV report, which records LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on primetime broadcast and cable television, and streaming shows that premiered or are expected to return between 1 June 2021 and 31 May 2022.

The study found that of the 775 regular characters scheduled to appear on scripted broadcast primetime programming for the period, 92 characters (11.9 percent) are LGBTQ.

“This is an increase of 2.8 percentage points from the previous year and marks a new record high percentage of LGBTQ series regulars on broadcast,” said GLAAD. There are an additional 49 LGBTQ recurring characters, for a total of 141 LGBTQ characters on scripted broadcast primetime series.

GLAAD also counted 358 LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on streaming, an increase of 217 characters overall from the previous year. Netflix was the most inclusive streaming platform with 155 LGBTQ characters.

For the first time in the report’s history, lesbian characters represent the majority of the LGBTQ characters on broadcast (40 percent). Gay men make up 35 percent of characters, a decrease of five percentage points from last year.

Bisexual+ characters make up 29 percent of all the LGBTQ characters on broadcast, cable and streaming. This is an increase of one percent from last year’s study.

This year, there are 42 regular and recurring transgender characters on all platforms (broadcast, cable, and streaming), up from 29 last year. Of those, 20 are trans women, 14 are trans men, and eight are nonbinary trans characters.

For the fourth year in a row, LGBTQ people of colour (58 percent) outweigh white LGBTQ people on broadcast, while the percentage was 45 percent on cable and 49 percent on streaming platforms. GLAAD counted only two characters who are living with HIV.

“The growing state of LGBTQ representation on television is a signal that Hollywood is truly starting to recognise the power of telling LGBTQ stories that audiences around the world connect with,” said GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.

“At a time when anti-LGBTQ legislation and violence continues to increase, it is cultural institutions like television that take on the crucial role of changing hearts and minds through diverse and inclusive storytelling. Networks and platforms must continue to prioritise telling LGBTQ stories that have been long overlooked, with a specific focus on the trans community, LGBTQ people of colour, people living with HIV, and LGBTQ people with disabilities.”

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