There have never been so many LGBTQ characters on prime-time scripted television.
In fact, 10.2 percent of series regulars on broadcast's 2019 to 2020 season would identify as Friends of Dorothy, according to GLAAD's latest Where We Are on TV report.
This percentage exceeds last year's high of 8.8 percent as well as the LGBTQ media organization's then-goal of 10 percent to the television industry. It is also the highest level of queer representation recorded by GLAAD since it began monitoring broadcast TV 15 years ago.
“Last year, GLAAD called on the television industry to increase the number of LGBTQ characters and more accurately reflect the world we live in, and they responded by exceeding this challenge,” praised Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD's president and CEO.
Other findings of note: There are 120 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters on broadcast TV; LGBTQ women on broadcast now outnumber men from the community (53 percent versus 47 percent); and for the second year in a row on broadcast, the number of LGBTQ characters of color (52 percent) exceeds the number of white LGBTQ characters.
Notably, across all platforms, the number of transgender characters has increased from 26 to 38 and the number of HIV-positive characters has risen from seven to nine. There are also more bisexual characters on TV than the previous year, but due to the overall rise, the percentage of bi representation had dipped. Only one asexual character is currently on TV (down from two!): Todd Chavez on Netflix's BoJack Horseman.
By next year, GLAAD has challenged cable (215 characters) and streaming (103 characters) to have over half of LGBTQ characters be people of color; the present numbers on these platforms tally at 48 percent and 41 percent, respectively. The organization also called for the total percentage of LGBTQ characters to reach 20 (!) percent by 2025.
“At a time when the cultural climate is growing increasingly divisive, increased representation of LGBTQ stories and characters on television is especially critical to advance LGBTQ acceptance," Ellis stressed. "Shows like Pose, Schitt’s Creek, Batwoman, and Billions demonstrate that not only are LGBTQ stories and characters on TV becoming more diverse, but that viewers everywhere continue to respond with extreme positivity.”
Megan Townsend, GLAAD's director of entertainment research and analysis, praised Hollywood's progress but also cautioned that "there is still work to be done," as LGBTQ representation has not increased evenly across networks.
"On cable TV, just three networks account for 44 percent of all LGBTQ representation on prime-time scripted series. Similarly, programming from four dedicated producers and creators who prioritize inclusion, Greg Berlanti, Lena Waithe, Ryan Murphy, and Shonda Rhimes, accounts for 14 percent of total LGBTQ characters across broadcast, cable, and streaming originals," Townsend said. "We hope to see all networks follow their lead, and work towards reflecting the reality of their audience and the culture.”
The networks with the highest number of LGBTQ characters on their respective platforms include Netflix (streaming), Showtime (cable), and the CW (broadcast).
Read the full Where We Are on TV report at GLAAD.org.