Report: Hollywood Adds More LGBT Characters to TV, Cable, Streaming – Now 488 Total

Michael W. Chapman | November 14, 2019 | 5:17pm EST
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(Screenshot, GLAAD website)
(Screenshot, GLAAD website)

( – GLAAD, an organization that seeks to accelerate “acceptance of the LGBT community” in American culture, released its 2019 report, Where We Are on TV, and applauded the TV and cable entertainment industries for adding more LGBT characters to their programs.

“Of the 879 regular characters scheduled to appear on broadcast scripted primetime television this season, 90 (10.2 percent) are LGBTQ,” states the report. (Emphasis added.)  

There are also some 30 recurring LGBTQ characters, making a total of 120. That’s up from last year’s 113 regular and recurring LGBTQ roles. 

The report covers programming for the 2019-2020 season. 

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

“In last year’s study, GLAAD called on the broadcast networks to ensure that 10 percent of primetime broadcast scripted series regulars were LGBTQ by 2020,” reads the report. “The networks met and exceeded this call in just one year. This is the highest percentage GLAAD has found in the 15 years this report has counted all broadcast series regulars. There are an additional 30 LGBTQ recurring characters.”

Fifteen years ago there were only 12 LGBTQ characters on broadcast and cable programs, according to GLAAD.

For its study, GLAAD essentially counted the number of “lesbian, gay, bisexual+, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) characters for the 2019-20 television season,” explains the report.  This includes characters on prime time TV, cable programs, and streaming shows on platforms such as Netflix and Amazon.

In addition to the 120 LGBTQ characters (regular and recurring) on primetime programs, GLAAD reported that there are 215 LGBTQ characters on cable TV shows and 153 such characters on Streaming Originals (certain shows on Hulu, amazon, and Netflix).

That is a total of 488 LGBTQ+ characters.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

On broadcast TV programs, gay men comprised the majority of LGBTQ characters (46), according to the report, but lesbian representation was up 33%  (40 characters) over 2018-19. There are 30 bisexual+ characters on broadcast networks for 2019-20.  There are also 4 transgender men and 2 transgender women, according to GLAAD.

Batwoman, on the CW Network, “is making history this fall with the first lesbian superhero title character, as out actress Ruby Rose picks up the cape of Kate Kane/ Batwoman,” reported GLAAD.

“Another new series with a queer leading character is ABC’s Stumptown, an adaptation of the comic book series of the same name, which centers on Dex, a bisexual veteran and private investigator with a gambling problem,” said GLAAD. “Dex also lives with PTSD after an explosion in Afghanistan that killed her childhood sweetheart, making her one of only a handful of LGBTQ characters with a disability on broadcast.”

On cable TV programs, GLAAD found there are 121 LGBTQ characters, which is up one role over 2018-19.  Some of the LGBTQ-rich shows on Cable TV include The L-Word: Generation Q, Billions, The Chi, Kidding, The Affair, and Work in Progress.

There are 65 lesbian, 74 gay male, and 61 bisexual roles on Cable TV shows, according to GLAAD.

Actress Ruby Rose, who plays Batwoman on the CW Network. (Getty Images)
Actress Ruby Rose, who plays Batwoman on the CW Network. (Getty Images)

“This year, GLAAD found 109 regular LGBTQ characters on original scripted series on the streaming services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, an increase of 34 from last year’s tally,” reads the report.  “There are an additional 44 recurring LGBTQ characters, an increase of seven from last year.”

“This totals to 153 characters on streaming, an increase of 41 characters overall from the previous year’s total of 112,” said GLAAD.

Netflix had the highest number of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters in its programs, according to the report.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Some of the pro-LGBTQ programs on streaming services include Tales of the City, Orange is the New Black, Designated Survivor, Dear White People, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and The Politician.

On the downside, GLAAD found that “only one asexual character was counted in this report, Todd Chavez on Netflix's BoJack Horseman. No additional asexual characters have been added, and BoJack Horseman is set to air its final episodes in this reporting period.”

Also, “there was a disappointing drop in transgender characters on streaming services, with neither Amazon nor Hulu including any transgender characters on their upcoming original programs,” said GLAAD. “This is something that must change in future reports.”

GLAAD’s mission, as it states, is to accelerate “acceptance of the LGBT community” into normal American society and culture. Television and cable play a vital role in that effort.

(Screenshot, GLAAD website)
(Screenshot, GLAAD website)

“GLAAD was founded by advocates who recognized the power of entertainment and media as the most powerful vehicle to share our stories – to combat negative or dehumanizing headlines, create a culture shift that makes it safe for LGBTQ people to live authentically as ourselves, and to offer hope and inspiration to young queer and trans people around the world,” states the report.

“And GLAAD is seeing television lead that charge,” says the organization.

The organization is issuing a new challenge for the entertainment industry: “GLAAD is calling on the industry to ensure that 20 percent of series regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast series are LGBTQ by 2025.”

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