GLAAD today released its 22nd annual Where We Are on TV report, a comprehensive forecast of LGBT characters in primetime in the 2017-18 television season.
First, the good news: Of the 901 regular characters appearing on broadcast networks, cable TV, and streaming services, 58 (6.4%) are queer. That’s the highest percentage since GLAAD began its report. GLAAD also counted an additional 28 recurring LGBT characters.
Cable has been fueling representation for some time, and this season will see 103 regular queer roles, up from 92 last year. On streaming originals on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, LGBT regular characters are up, as well, with 51 (from 45).
“Representation matters more than ever,” said GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis. “At a time when the Trump administration is trying to render LGBTQ people invisible, representing LGBTQ people in all of our diversity in scripted TV programs is an essential counterbalance that gives LGBTQ people stories to relate to and moves the broader public to support LGBTQ people and families.”
For the first time, GLAAD added non-binary and asexual characters in the Where We Are on TV report, including Raphael of Freeform’s Shadowhunters and Todd on Netflix’s BoJack Horseman. (Jughead is asexual in Archie comics, but the CW’s Riverdale has yet to address the topic.)
There’s still plenty of room for improvement, though: While Lena Waithe won an Emmy for her work on Master of None, queer people of color are still underrepresented on television. According to GLAAD, most LGBT characters on television are still cisgender white men. (On broadcast, 62% are white—that jumps to 77% on streaming services and 64% on cable).
There are only 17 trans characters across broadcast, cable, and streaming services, and four nonbinary roles. In addition, bisexual representation skews largely toward female characters (75 women to 18 men) and there are just two characters on any platform who are HIV-positive.
“Numbers are only a small part of the story when it comes to LGBTQ representation on TV and simply being present onscreen is not enough,” said GLAAD’s Megan Townsend. “While we’re pleased to see numbers on the rise, consideration of how LGBTQ characters are woven into storylines and whose stories are making it to screen is crucial for judging progress of the industry.”