A new GLAAD study finds that this year there were a record level of LGBTQ characters on television.
According to GLAAD’s most recent Where We Are On TV report, which for the past 23 years has tracked representation of LGBTQ characters on television, for the first time, there are more LGBTQ people of color (50%) than white LGBTQ people (49%) on broadcast television.
GLAAD reports that out of the 857 regular characters on broadcast scripted primetime programming, 75 identified as LGBTQ, with an additional 38 recurring LGBTQ characters.
“With anti-LGBTQ policies being debated here and abroad, the stories and characters on television are more critical than ever before to build understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ people,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO. “Not only do stories that explore the rich lives and identities of LGBTQ people move the needle forward culturally, but they pay off in ratings – shows like Will & Grace, Supergirl, Empire, and How To Get Away with Murder all attract millions of viewers weekly and demonstrate that audiences are hungry for new stories and perspectives.”
For streaming platforms, Netflix had the highest number of LGBTQ characters, and FX was number one on cable—thanks to series like Pose and The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
“This year we noted two history-making television moments: the premiere of FX’s Pose, which features the largest number of transgender series regular characters on a scripted U.S. series ever, and this fall The CW’s Supergirl introduced audiences to TV’s first transgender superhero when Nicole Maines made her debut as Dreamer/Nia Nal,” said Megan Townsend, Director of Entertainment Research and Analysis at GLAAD. “This is all part of a welcome increase in television telling groundbreaking stories featuring characters whose identities have long been left off screen.”
The record-high number of characters is a step in the right direction, but GLAAD is calling on the entertainment industry to make sure that in the next two years, 10% of series regular characters on primetime broadcast television are LGBTQ.
Not only is the number of queer characters on TV the highest its ever been, but for the first time ever Nielsen will include television ratings reporting for viewing habits of same-sex couples.
According to Variety, Nielsen worked with GLAAD to “determine the best approaches for reflecting LGBTQ inclusion and representation in its industry-leading panels, including evaluating recruiting and classification techniques that help better identify same-gender spouses and unmarried partner households to participate in Nielsen’s nationally representative panel.”
The report found that the recent premiere of the Murphy Brown revival was the most-watched with “just under 14% of same gender spouses or unmarried partners with a TV tuned into the series within a week of its premiere on CBS, or about 340,000 people.”