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Too many LGBTQ+ TV characters disappeared this year because their series was canceled: report

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There were only 468 LGBTQ+ characters in the 2023-2024 television season, and a significant chunk of them won't be returning.

The amount of LGBTQ+ characters on television is decreasing, and a significant chunk are disappearing because their show was canceled or ended.

GLAAD’s annual Where We Are on TVreport tracks the presence of LGBTQ+ characters in the latest television season, pulling from shows that premiered a new season in primetime between June 1, 2023 and May 31, 2024. It found just 8.6 percent of recurring characters in the past year were LGBTQ+, falling two percentage points from the previous year.

"LGBTQ stories have power and resonance that audiences are craving," GLAAD CEO Sarah Kate Ellis wrote in the report's forward. "Yet, TV networks and streamers are passing up on the opportunity to fully engage with this meaningful audience, and are leaving stories that will help bottom lines and earn buzz and accolades on the table."

Of the 468 LGBTQ+ characters counted across all platforms, 50 percent were characters of color, 24 percent were bisexual, and 5.1 percent were transgender. Only 3.8 percent had a disability, and just one character (0.2 percent) was living with HIV.

Tragically, 36 percent of the characters noted in the report are already known to not be returning due to series cancellations or endings, miniseries or anthology formats, or from dying or leaving the show. Of those not returning, 24 percent were due to a cancellation or ending.

While the reasons for cancellation were not explored in the report, Ellis noted in her forward that "recent inclusive projects have faced criticism from a small but loud coordinated effort by fringe anti-LGBTQ activists who oppose LGBTQ inclusion." Studios have also consistently under-invested in queer projects, many times on the baseless assumption that they will not draw interest or revenue.

"What they don't want you to know is that LGBTQ-inclusive series which have received full marketing and promotional pushes have been massively successful," Ellis continued.

The report stated that "the solution is not only to greenlight new work featuring the diversity of the LGBTQ community, but for these shows to be fully supported." This is not only good for representation, Ellis said, but rather just good business.

"Networks and streamers that do not tell nuanced and meaningful inclusive LGBTQ stories are at true risk of alienating a huge audience and tarnishing future brand recognition," she wrote.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.