There’s good news on TV, for a change: LGBTQ visibility, as far as queer-identified characters are concerned, is at an all-time high.
According to GLAAD, the hit drama series Pose and a new trans superhero in Supergirl have contributed to the unprecedented number of LGBTQ characters on TV in the United States. GLAAD’s 2018 report, Where We Are On TV, showed that 75 of 857 regularly appearing characters are portrayed as LGBTQ. That’s roughly 8.8 percent, a new record. Last year, the number was 6.4 percent. Not counting regulars, there were another 38 recurring LGBTQ characters for a total of 113 LGBTQ regular and recurring characters appearing on primetime scripted broadcast TV. That’s a jump from 86 in 2017.
And that’s just broadcast television. The five broadcast networks in the report are ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, and NBC. The number of LGBTQ regular characters counted on cable TV went up significantly, too–from 103 last year to 120 this year, with recurring LGBTQ characters also increasing from 70 to 88. On Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix, the number of LGBTQ regular characters in scripted streaming originals got a boost with 75 (from 51) and an additional 37 characters. That’s a total of 112 LGBTQ characters on scripted streaming original TV shows, up from 70 last year.
GLAAD’s report, published annually for the past 14 years, is “a comprehensive forecast of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ) characters expected in primetime scripted programming in the 2018-19 television season.”
So what do GLAAD’s encouraging numbers mean? It’s all about visibility. Higher visibility is crucial to higher acceptance. People need to see that we’re here, we’re queer, and we’re represented on TV.
“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, in a statement.
What do you think about LGBTQ representation on TV in America? GLAAD invites you to join the conversation by following @glaad on Twitter, and using the hashtag #RepresentationMatters.