Unsurprising News That Still Sucks: Hollywood Has Some Homophobia Problems
Sometimes, people are the worst.
A new study surveying 5,700 SAG-AFTRA members has shed light on some of the less-savory aspects of the Hollywood machine that LGBT performers face every day. While the study wasn’t entirely negative, it does show that discrimination and harassment in the entertainment industry is still a prevalent issue (in case you still needed convincing of that fact).
The survey was conducted by the Williams Institute, a ULCA think tank that focuses on LGBT issues, and was funded by the SAG-Producers Industry Advancement and Cooperative Fund. The authors of the study, M. V. Lee Badgett and Jody L. Herman, said they “found that LGBT performers may have substantial barriers to overcome in their search for jobs.”
The study is fascinating, in a bummer way, and you can read the whole thing right here, but here are some sad facts from its pages:
- “More than a quarter of heterosexual respondents have heard crew, producers, and directors make anti-gay comments at some point,” and that number soars to over 50% if the performer identifies as gay or lesbian.
- “53% of LGBT respondents believed that directors and producers are biased against LGBT performers.” A third of non-LGBT performers thought the same thing.
- “45% of LG respondents strongly believed that producers and studio executives think LG performers are less marketable.” 27% of bisexual respondents believed the same, as did 15% of heterosexual respondents.
- “LGBT respondents are less likely than heterosexual respondents to have an agent, which may put LGBT performers at a disadvantage when looking for work.”
- 9% of LG respondents have been turned down for roles because of their orientation; 16% have experienced discrimination or harassment. Almost one in eight non-LGBT performers have witnessed this harassment, which gay men were most likely to have received.
The report also includes stories from respondents who have experienced discrimination first-hand:
“An openly gay extra was fired because the lead character felt uncomfortable having him around. In fact, two were fired a week apart for the same reason.”
“A friend almost cast a transgender actress and then found out and reconsidered because there would be a kiss with an actor and he did not know how the actor would feel.”
“I’ve seen gay men read for straight roles and when they left the room, the casting director indicated that they would not be taken seriously in the straight role because they were gay.”
Thankfully, the study does give us some positives, too. 72% of respondents said they thought coming out didn’t effect their careers and would encourage other performers to come out as well. LGB performers were also shown to have “equal or better” preparation for working in the entertainment biz. Additionally, “most respondents, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, saw opportunities improving for LGB actors and for transgender actors,” which is great news.
The national co-chairs of the SAG-AFTRA LGBT Committe said that they are “confident that this unprecedented study will have profound ramifications for the entertainment industry as a whole,” but that their industry is “heading in the right direction.” Let’s hope this study convinces people to continue heading down that same, LGBT-positive path.
(via Deadline, thanks to tipster Tony)