GLAAD Report: LGBT Representation on TV Is Up, But Still Very White

GLAAD’s “Where We Are on TV” report this year shows strides being made in the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) characters on TV, while shining a spotlight on the need for greater diversity in those representations.

Broadcast TV’s representation of LGBT characters this year stands at 4 percent (or 35 out of 881 series regular roles), an increase of a tenth of a percent vs. the previous measuring period. Broadcast TV also will have 35 recurring LGBT characters.

Cable TV went from 64 to 84 series regular LGBT characters plus an additional 58 recurring. (ABC Family and Showtime are the most inclusive, with 18 LGBT characters each.) Streaming services such as Hulu, Netflix and Amazon add 43 regulars plus 16 recurring.

On broadcast TV, lesbians make up 33 percent of the LGBT community (up 5 percent YOY) while bisexuals account for 20 percent. Of note, broadcast TV currently offers zero transgender characters, even on a recurring basis, while cable has three recurring trans characters. Streaming services total four transgender characters, with two being leads (on Transparent and Sense8).

GLAAD’s report points out that while LGBT representation is up slightly, it is still dominantly white, with 69 percent (on broadcast), 71 percent (cable) and 73 percent (streaming) landing in that category.

The “Where We Are on TV” report also took stock of the representation of blacks and other people of color. This year, 16 percent of TV characters (or 145 total) are black, marking an all-time high — though females are underrepresented, making up 43 percent of that group (versus 51 percent of the actual population).

This year, the representation of people of color climbed to 33 percent, a six point jump from last season and a full 10 points over two years ago. NBC fares best with 41 percent, while The CW (29 percent) and CBS (25 percent) place fourth and fifth among broadcasters.

TV’s representation of women rose three points this year, with 43 percent of series regulars being female — though the country’s population is 51 percent female.

One last observation to cite from the report: TV’s representation of characters living with a disability declined, from 1.4 percent to 0.9.

The “Where We Are on TV” report‘s forecasts for the 2015-16 TV season are based on scripted series which air or are expected to air in primetime between June 1, 2015 and May 31, 2016.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. robandco says:

    We’ve come a long way but it still isn’t enough. TV need more real life representation and more diversity. The world isn’t just white. If yours is, check your privileges.

    • Lucifer says:

      Nobody said the world was white, but America is 68% white. Check your facts, not your privilege.

      • robandco says:

        America isn’t the world, nor the center of the world. Yes 68% of all Americans may be white but that doesn’t mean they all live in the same place and don’t interact with the others. The US is diverse but American TV sure doesn’t seem to be bothered.

        • Lucifer says:

          We’re talking about American TV shows, not Canadian or British, American. Why should it be representing the world exactly? And please, spare me the claim that because the percentages of groups in real life are not matching TV, that it’s not diverse.

          • robandco says:

            I know we’re talking about American TV, thank you very much. And I was initially talking about a person’s world, not the world as our planet.
            It is diverse, but there is a lot of room for improvement. IMO it the networks loss. Diversity adds a lot of realism in TV and people tend to be receptive to these things. But it is a slow process, it’s gonna take a little more time. I am basically saying what I said in my first comment, minus the last part which was really just because I am tired of white people playing dumb regarding those issues and maybe wasn’t appropriate.

    • ScottJ says:

      My world is almost totally white, and always has been. That’s just the way it happens to be, and it has nothing to do with privilege. I didn’t deliberately go out of my way to live and work where I do, and its certainly not my fault that there are so few non-white people around. My world also has very LGBT people in it – although that is in part because people here don’t bother identifying or labeling themselves as such.

  2. zac says:

    AT least it’s improving but TV needs more diversity. I’m still waiting for that Filipino family in America sitcom, I think that would be funny and weird at the same time

    • lechatnoir says:

      There is dr ken and fresh off the boat.these are shows asian families.clearly more of that is needed.pinoy is not a race and no if I need a country specific show id watch it in tag along . there is a gay pinoy on htgawm

    • Win says:

      I like that the inclusion of LGBT[Q] characters is done in a way that shows that many LGBT[Q] individuals are just that – individuals. For instance, there isn’t just one type of “gay man” that fits into stereotypes people are used to on TV or invoke in real life, but I also find it refreshing that better inclusion doesn’t say “don’t use the characters/actors that some dismiss as tired stereotypes” (but actually represent one of the real individuals someone may encounter in real life). Sometimes people (understandably) try to get so far away from one depiction that it puts additional, unnecessary weight onto the/those characters that should be fresh and true. To me, the real test of inclusion is whether the narrative allows for representation of those that some people feel were overused, but still exist in the group, rather than never showing such individuals again for fear of being accused of “trotting out tired tropes.” While I know that some (usually ignorant) people glom onto the first or more prevalent version of a person or group as presented on TV, perhaps I’m naive in thinking that many more have the ability to discern this is one character in what I hope will be many individual characters on screen to delight, infuriate, refresh or even be a pioneer.

      • lechatnoir says:

        What you are saying sound nice but we do not have a different type of black male or Asian male on tv yet .it’d be funny to have the entire rainbow palette of lgbt before this.america is too comfortable with single stories and one dimensional portrayal if its minorities. One step at a time is good

  3. James says:

    I’d like to see more disabilities on TV. There are more diseases than cancer that could make a great storyline.

  4. T says:

    I really like the stats they added to the “Where We Are At Report”. Comparing the numbers to the actual population of the US puts it into what to me is an important context. To me the right mix for diversity should be similar to the diversity of the overall potential viewing population.

  5. Jill says:

    Transparent doesn’t have a trans lead character it has a white cis man pretending to be trans, just like glee had no regular disabled character, just a white man pretending to be disabled. It does nothing to help visibility if roles like these are co-opted by the most privileged group in society to help their careers.

    • jmble says:

      The key word here is “character”. The report is centered on characters on television. Both of the examples you cited are about the actors who play them. The fact that there aren’t enough Trans or Disabled actors is a different topic all together. Though it should be noted that Transparent does have actual trans actors in the cast despite Jeffrey Tambour not actually being trans.

      • lechatnoir says:

        But there ARE enough trans actors who can tackle this canvas it is just tv shows do not want employ them.this is like the colin Firth of the world.the the redmaynes are the ones getting the gigs.

    • Steven says:

      Go back to Tumblr.

    • Eran says:

      I’ll let you in on another secret… the dead bodies on Major Crimes, CSI, Criminal Minds…not really dead. More privileged members of society pretending to be honest, decent corpses to help their careers…

  6. Luk says:

    I think the white percentage expressed like that doesn’t make sense, it should be compared instead to the global percentages of white/ethnic characters. If, for example, 80% of all the characters are white, 69% is actually a good score; if the global white percentage is 50%, 69% is not.
    The diversity problem is a general one for TV, and not necessarily related to LGBT.

    • Luk says:

      ah ok, I have just started reading the full report and the info is given there: 69% are white, which is 3% higher than the overall % of white characters on broadcast. So yes, it is slightly worse.

  7. kpflat says:

    Well it’s certainly a reflection on the population. But no worries, in the next 40 or so years, the white population of the US will be the minority and all the shows about blacks, Latinos and mixed races ( the new ruling class of the USA ) will get huge ratings. I can’t wait for the white devil to finally be eradicated! Of course, this will be a third world country by then and probably a police state…but I digress…..

    • AJ says:

      Someone sounds scared about becoming a minority.

      • kpflat says:

        Not me. By the time it all happens, I’ll be dead. Thankfully I won’t have to see the USA turned into a nation filled with low life criminals who came here to suck off of the government teet. Thanks Obama!

        • Angela says:

          If you’re going to be dead by then, then why bother ranting about this ridiculous vision of the future at all? What will you care?

  8. Solomon says:

    Why is there some major issue about having more gays on tv, personally i think it is repulsive and disgusting every body is not into the gay thing so why do we have to be subjected to it all I want to do is watch a good tv show without all the trashy stuff. C ‘ mon the tv shows today have enough negativity as it is, why do we have to compound it with this
    Next I guess it will be every tv show will have a polygamous couple and gay animals and legalize prostitution etc etc

    • I feel the same when when I’m forced to watch TV shows that feature ignorant, blathering, uneducated idiots like yourself. Most people aren’t as awful as you so I’m not sure why there are just so many of your clones on TV.

    • Angela says:

      all I want to do is watch a good tv show without all the trashy stuff.

      And there’s still plenty of shows out there that provide you with just that. If you don’t want to watch a show with that “trashy stuff”, well, that’s what remote controls are for. There. Problem solved.
      Also, why is it the anti-gay crowd who always seems to be obsessed with the idea of polygamy or gay animals or things of that sort when this issue comes up? I’ve yet to meet any pro-gay rights people who are angling to make that stuff happen. Hm.
      (To say nothing of the fact that polygamy and prostitution happen in areas where gay rights are still illegal, and have happened well before gay rights were made legal, so this idea that allowing gay rights and gay marriage and so on will lead to some sort of “slippery slope” is kind of…backward.)

  9. Douglas from Brazil says:

    So us white people will continue being seen as the bad guys.

  10. Personally, I don’t like when TV shows use someone’s sexuality for “shock factor” when it comes to the plot. They did it with HTGAWM, Empire (Cookie), and now its possibly being done on TGW (Cary).

    I really enjoy those who are gay and unapologetic about it. I love the Omar Little’s (I know he’s a criminal but go with it) who do away with a lot of the stereotypes of homosexuality. And even though Jamal wasn’t OUT out until later on, I enjoyed watching his journey too.

    What say you, Matt?

    I’m a straight female with an amazing, selfless but wholly RELIGIOUS grandmother. She raised all her kids to believe the same things she does and they do so (my many cousins, too) without the “God loves all his children so I’ll let HIM judge” mentality she has. I think making being a gay some dark/shocking twist from the character pasts doesn’t help with the people (like I see in this thread) who feel it being kept a secret makes sense because its synonymous with BAD.

    The “surprise, he/she’s gay” trope…. Does it hurt or help? Does it matter? Am I being insensitive to call it a trope? (I hope not).

    Either way I’m glad to see TV being more representative of the world. And I think Jamal Lyon IS a fly in a bowl of milk at this point lol. Baby steps.

  11. John NYC says:

    “though the country’s population is 51 percent female.”

    What’s the % breakdown of carded actors and actresses?

    • lechatnoir says:

      Simple maybe 60 per cent of tv is female but this doesn’t mean that they share equal screen time with the males.but what’s more interesting is that no more than a few percents are female and (insert minority here).and when it comes to leading roles white girls get the biggest part of the cake.someone mentioned that when tamala Jones was on castle she’d have an average of 47 sec of screen presence per episode and only say about 23 words at a time . That’s not much and she was one of the 3 women on the show

  12. Bob Backus says:

    Wasn’t last year’s report the last one they were going to do? Or was that some other organization. Either way, it’s pathetic to simply look at the numbers instead of the quality of the character. It’s like the NCAAP counting blacks in movies, it doesn’t matter they were maids or butlers, it’s the numbers. Are the gays etc portrayed as normal, or are they the old stereotypes that were laughed at 40 years ago, i.e. the butch lesbian and “fairy” gay man, instead of them having the only difference being that they are in a same sex relationship, like the gay character in HTGAW-Murder. He’s not set apart as being unusual or strange.

  13. Lucifer says:

    This is why I and others in the LGBT community do not like GLAAD, they play identity politics and indulge in collectivism. Which is anti-liberal to the extreme and only neo-progressives partake in that crap.

    • lechatnoir says:

      But sexuality is a part of one’s identity much in the same way gender is. Did you follow the link Matt Mitto pasted here. The title alone is self explanatory. They compile data about marginal sexual identities + character development + character inclusion. Kindly refer to this before you decide to vent.
      You needn’t follow liberal politics . Feel free to follow Dr Carson and Anna Coulter’s doctrine. They have the right to exist too.

    • John Doyl says:

      Uhh, you do know that GLAAD is a liberal organization, right? They represent everything that is wrong with liberalism in America. If you’re liberal, you might want to do some research into your own political affiliation before bashing who you think your enemies are.

  14. Hodan says:

    “This year, the representation of people of color climbed to 33 percent, a six point jump from last season and a full 10 points over two years ago. NBC fares best with 41 percent, while The CW (29 percent) and CBS (25 percent) place fourth and fifth among broadcasters.”

    NBC? I thought ABC would be in NBC’s place? Where is ABC on this list again?

    • :) says:

      NBC is trying to become relevant again by throwing a bunch of black people on TV. A large portion of those shows were canceled or will be canceled. The problem that happens is networks add minorities to as a reaction rather than through development. The thing that ABC has shown us is develop a good project and put good people in it without limits. I love the story shondra Wilson (Dr bailey ) tells. Her role was written for a white man but the casting people saw something in her and gave her the part. Do we really see anyone else as bailey?

  15. isaac says:

    Who is that young black guy in the photo? He’s cute! What show?