Over the years, the LGBTQ+ community has faced its share of setbacks in the fight for inclusion and proper representation in media, but it seems things might finally be looking up. According to an annual report published by GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), the representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer characters in television shows is at a record high.
The report, titled “Where We Are on TV,” has been collecting data on the representation of the LGBTQ+ community in shows aired on all platforms, including broadcast, cable, and streaming since 2005. And for the first time in thirteen years, the data collected for the 2018-2019 report shows a significant increase in the numbers across all platforms.
On primetime broadcast TV, there are a total of 75 (8.8 percent) LGBTQ+ series regulars and an additional 38 recurring characters. These numbers are higher than the 2017 report, which showed only 58 (6 percent) series regulars were LGBTQ+.
As for cable and streaming platforms, both of those numbers also showed significant increases. On cable, the number of both recurring and regular LGBTQ+ characters went up to 208. In the available Netflix streaming series, there are 88 LGBTQ+ characters in total, almost double last year’s count.
The report also pointed out that, for the first time, there are currently more LGBTQ+ characters of color (50 percent) than there are white characters (49 percent).
On broadcast TV, the percentage of black characters went from 18 percent to 22; the percentage of Asian-Pacific Islander characters went from to 7 percent to 8 percent. However, the number of Latino characters remained unchanged at 8 percent.
The report also notes improved representation of H.I.V.-positive, bisexual, and transgender characters, as well. It went on to recognize the impact of Ryan Murphy’s FX hit series Pose, which accounts for more than 50 percent of the trans representation on cable. It also noted that Netflix has the only asexual character across the streaming platforms, Todd Chavez from BoJack Horseman.
In the report, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis called this time “one of the most tumultuous times our country has ever faced. That means what happens on our television screens is now more important than ever before.”
“Not only do stories that explore the rich lives and identities of LGBTQ+ people move the needle forward culturally, but they pay off in ratings,” she continued. “Shows like Will & Grace, Supergirl, Empire, and How to Get Away With Murder all attract millions of viewers weekly and demonstrate that audiences are hungry for new stories and perspectives.”