GLAAD Issues The Television Industry A Report Card

For the first time, the LGBT watchdog group incorporated series from streaming services like Amazon Prime, Hulu and Netflix.

Today GLAAD released its annual Where We Are on TV report, analyzing LGBT representations on broadcast television, cable and, for the first time, streaming services for the 2015-2016 season.

It should come as no surprise that Amazon, Hulu and Netflix have upped LGBT representations considerably—bringing everything from Transparent and Orange is the New Black to Sense8 and Difficult People to a wide online audience.


Such diversity wasn’t found on traditional television, though: Where We Are found that transgender characters are completely absent from primetime broadcast programming. (There are only three recurring trans characters on the cable landscape.)

“Each of us lives at the intersection of many identities and it’s important that television characters reflect the full diversity of the LGBT community,” said GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis. “It is not enough to just include LGBT characters; those characters need to be portrayed with thought and care to accurately represent an often tokenized community.”

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Additional findings include:

* Of the 881 regular characters expected to appear on broadcast primetime scripted programming in the coming year, 35 (4%) were identified as LGBT. (There were an additional 35 recurring LGB characters.)

* The number of regular LGBT characters on cable rose from 64 to 84, while recurring characters increased from 41 to 58.

* Bisexual representations rose on both broadcast and cable this year with a notable increase (from 10 to 18) in the number of bisexual men on TV.

* Between broadcast and cable, there is only one recurring character who is depicted as HIV-positive (Oliver on How to Get Away with Murder).

Of course representation isn’t everything—there’s also how a character is portrayed. From a sadistic bisexual who uses sex to wield power to a trans sex worker murdered in a police procedural, TV can still dangerous messages about the LGBT community.

Below, more data from Where We are Now 2015

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Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.