Story at a glance
- Broadcast and streaming television shows saw marked jumps in LGBTQ representation in the last year.
- Over 10 percent of characters on broadcast TV now are LGBTQ+, achieving a GLAAD benchmark one year early.
- The survey, “Where we are on TV,” was recently completed by GLAAD, the leading advocacy organization for LGBTQ people in media.
If you’re one of the millions who have tuned into hit shows like “Pose” and “Batwoman” this year you may have noticed something quite different from the broadcast television programming of yesteryear — LGBTQ and gender inclusivity. In fact, a new study by the advocacy group GLAAD has found that a record-high number of LGBTQ+ regular characters were featured on network television during the 2019-2020 season.
GLAAD’s annual report titled “Where Are We On TV” came out this Thursday, and shows an all-time high of regularly seen LGBTQ+ characters on prime-time broadcast TV this season, reaching approximately 10.2 percent. By comparison, it blew last year’s record of 8.8 percent out of the water, even slightly topping the group’s 2020 goal of 10 percent. It’s the fourth straight year that LGBTQ+ representation has hit a record high.
"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," said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president, in a statement. “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."
Other encouraging numbers include 53 percent of regularly seen and recurring female LGBTQ+ characters in broadcast television, exceeding those of male characters by 6 percent — a first in the history of the study. The ethnic diversity of LGBTQ+ characters has also seen an increase, with people of color representing 52 percent of the 120 regular and recurring LGBTQ+ roles on broadcast and 48 percent of cable’s 215 characters. The only decrease seen was on streaming platforms, where the number of POC roles dropped seven percent to 41 percent of 153 characters.
Despite these record-breaking numbers, GLAAD wants the bar to be continually raised, issuing a new challenge to the television industry: that 20 percent of series regular characters on primetime scripted broadcast series are LGBTQ by 2025, as well as seeing that half of LGBTQ+ characters are POCs across all platforms within the next two years.
For more information you can read the full report for yourself here.