GLAAD Reports Increase in LGBTQ Characters on Television, With Disappointing Results on Racial Diversity

"Bury Your Gays" rears its ugly head again.
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GLAAD recently shared a report that says there have never been more LGBTQ characters on television than we have now. According to the report, titled “Where We Are on TV,” in the coming year, we can expect to see 43 series regular characters who openly identify as LGBTQ. Additionally, there are 28 more LGBTQ characters in recurring roles. When it comes to primetime cable television, numbers have grown from 84 to 92, but recurring characters have declined from 58 to 50. A few of these could possibly be role conversions wherein a recurring character gets promoted to become a series regular.

Things are pretty well off on the transgender character front, as numbers have more than doubled with 16 characters represented on television (compared with the seven from last year). That breaks down to three on regular broadcast television and six on cable, with streaming taking up the lion’s share at seven.

Not everything is great news, however: lesbian representation is down to 17% of all LGBTQ characters, a decrease of 16% from last year. Cable’s decline in representation is marginally smaller, with a loss of 2% (22% in this past broadcast year, 20% in the upcoming year).

More concerning is the fact that racial diversity within the LGBTQ characters counted remains low. 71 to 72% of all LGBTQ characters across all platforms are white. “Overall racial diversity is up again with 36% (325) of 895 series regular characters on broadcast counted as people of color,” the report states, “Which is a three-point increase from last year’s report.

It’s interesting that lesbian representation is down, though unsurprising–lest we forget, many of the “Bury Your Gays” tropes displayed this year saw the end of many fan favorite lesbian characters. Until we start seeing creators take lesbian representation seriously, we can sadly probably expect to see more lesbian couples dying for a cheap dramatic thrill.

Overall, it’s great to see that representation is on the rise. Obviously things can be better (can’t they always), and improving racial diversity within LGBTQ characters can go a long, long way to helping achieve that goal.

(via The Verge)

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Jessica Lachenal
Jessica Lachenal is a writer who doesn’t talk about herself a lot, so she isn’t quite sure how biographical info panels should work. But here we go anyway. She's the Weekend Editor for The Mary Sue, a Contributing Writer for The Bold Italic (thebolditalic.com), and a Staff Writer for Spinning Platters (spinningplatters.com). She's also been featured in Model View Culture and Frontiers LA magazine, and on Autostraddle. She hopes this has been as awkward for you as it has been for her.