We said it back in 2019, and it remains true years later: TV is now gayer than ever.
GLAAD has released its 2021 “Where We Are on TV” report, which states that out of “775 series regular characters scheduled to appear on scripted broadcast primetime programming for the 2021–2022 season, 92 characters (11.9%) are LGBTQ.” This marks a new record high for queer representation on the small screen. For the first time in the report’s history, lesbians also comprise the majority of LGBTQ characters on broadcast television at 40% (56 characters). There was a decrease of 5% in gay male characters, and bi+ characters increased slightly at 19%, up one percentage point from last year.
In honor of the release of our Where We Are on TV report… we have a question.
— GLAAD (@glaad) February 17, 2022
“The growing state of LGBTQ representation on television is a signal that Hollywood is truly starting to recognize the power of telling LGBTQ stories that audiences around the world connect with,” said GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis. “At a time when anti-LGBTQ legislation and violence continues to increase, it is cultural institutions like television that take on the crucial role of changing hearts and minds through diverse and inclusive storytelling. Networks and platforms must continue to prioritize telling LGBTQ stories that have been long overlooked, with a specific focus on the trans community, LGBTQ people of color, people living with HIV, and LGBTQ people with disabilities.”
This year’s “Where We Are on TV” report also notes that for a fourth year in a row, LGBTQ people of color outnumber white LGBTQ people on broadcast television (58% versus 42%, respectively). Year to year, depictions of LGBTQ people of color dipped on cable but increased on streaming.
Across the board, there were 42 recurring transgender characters across broadcast, cable, and streaming, and only two characters living with HIV — one on Netflix’s Dear White People and another featured on NBC’s Ordinary Joe. The report also counted “17 characters who are nonbinary and not trans.” Che Diaz’s impact!
In a press statement, Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s director of entertainment research and development, noted the need for more “nuanced, diverse LGBTQ stories” on television:
After finding several decreases in the previous year’s study, it is exciting to see quick progress made year-over-year with a new record high percentage of LGBTQ series regulars on broadcast, as well as increases in underrepresented parts of the community including queer women, transgender characters, and LGBTQ people of color. However, we continue to see that LGBTQ inclusion is often found in clusters from a concentrated number of creatives and networks who have prioritized telling our stories. Just three cable networks account for close to half of all LGBTQ inclusion on cable, and 8.5% of LGBTQ characters across all platforms tracked appear on shows tied to just four producers. As the LGBTQ community continues to quickly grow and drive buzz as heavy users of social platforms – and as there is more competition for audience’s attention and money than ever – it is clear that investing in telling nuanced, diverse LGBTQ stories and proactively marketing those programs can only benefit the network’s bottom line and positive perception.
And we haven’t even talked about And Just Like That… yet. Head over to GLAAD’s website to check out the full report.