There Have Never Been More LGBT Characters on TV

Tig Notaro

TV has never been queerer.

The 2016-2017 season of prime-time broadcast television had a record-breaking number of LGBT regular characters, GLAAD reports. 

For 12 years, the media organization has been tracking queer representation in its Where We Are on TV report. And this season, witht 4.8 percent of regular characters on broadcast TV being LGBT, has the best representation ever recorded.

There have been significant gains in transgender representation. For example, there were no trans characters on broadcast TV last year. This season there are 16 across all platforms, including cable networks and streaming services. Since last year, representation of bisexual characters also rose from 20 percent to 30 percent of all LGBT characters, although the majority of these portrayals are women.

In addition, GLAAD expressed concerns over the spike in scripted television deaths of lesbian and bisexual women: 25 in total. Known as "bury your gays," this trope taps into a chilling tradition in Hollywood, treating queer characters as secondary and disposable.

The report also noted that the majority of LGBT characters (over 70 percent) on broadcast and streaming services are white, leaving vast room for improvement regarding the representation of LGBT people of color.

Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD's CEO, praised Hollywood's gains. But she also cautioned Hollywood about the dangers that can occur when it televises tropes and stereotypes.

“While it is heartening to see progress being made in LGBTQ representation on television, it’s important to remember that numbers are only part of the story, and we must continue the push for more diverse and intricate portrayals of the LGBTQ community,” said Ellis.

“GLAAD will continue to work with Hollywood to tell nuanced LGBTQ stories that accelerate acceptance — and hold the networks, streaming services, and content creators accountable for the images and storylines they present.”

Read the full report at GLAAD.org.

Tags: television, GLAAD

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