Study: More LGBTQ characters but fewer women and people of color seen on TV


A new Nielsen report reveals that the top 300 programs on television in 2019 included at least one LGBTQ cast member, though the report suggests diversity could be further increased.

While the percentage of U.S. adults in the general population who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender has been estimated at 4.5 percent, Nielsen’s report found that 6.7 percent of cast members in recurring parts in the top 300 TV programs identified themselves as part of the LGBTQ community.

“When you look across the TV landscape, the LGBTQ population looks well represented,” Stacie de Armas, Nielsen’s senior vice president for diverse consumer insights, told NBC News.

“But when we look deeper, and at intersectional groups, it’s clear there is a need for greater diversity in LGBTQ representation. White LGBTQ people are most represented on screen, while female LGBTQ people of color and Latinx LGBTQ people are below parity compared to their population estimates.”

Chris Rudolph, an editor and producer for the LGBTQ-centered channel Logo, part of ViacomCBS, said that the queer community has not done enough to support queer shows focused on people of color.

“Great shows like ‘Vida’ and ‘One Day at a Time’ centered Hispanic and Latinx queer women but didn’t get enough support from the LGBTQ community,” said Randolph. “If we want to see shows other than the ones that focus on gay, white men, we as a community have to show them the same amount of love and support.”

“Schitt’s Creek” a Canadian comedy show created by Dan Levy, who is gay, prominently depicted LGBTQ characters and relationships throughout its six seasons. This year, the show swept the comedy portion of the 2020 Primetime Emmys, winning Outstanding Comedy series and all the major acting awards for its main cast members.

Though praised for its positive depictions of LGBTQ characters, “Schitt’s Creek” features a nearly all-white cast with only two characters of color regularly appearing throughout the series.

“A huge part of the puzzle the industry has to work on is allowing queer women, queer Latinx people and other underrepresented members of our community to tell their own stories,” Jack Moore, writer and co-showrunner for the Netflix series “Dear White People,” told NBC news. Moore identifies as bisexual. 

“This is one way networks, artists and creators can go beyond telling the same white, queer stories over and over,” said Moore. 

Tags Diversity LGBT community LGBTQ community queer

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