It would be great to think that in 2017, characters on the small and big screen reflect society as a whole, featuring and celebrating the diversity of our communities. It should be the norm that series regulars and primetime shows depict a realistic, inclusive cast and plot; telling the stories of communities that are usually left untold. However, the new Where We Are on TV report published by GLAAD, the American LGBTQ+ advocacy group, has found that although the number of LGBTQ+ characters on screen are improving, the majority are still white.
“GLAAD recognises that #RepresentationMatters, and we will continue to work alongside the industry to tell LGBTQ stories on screen and further the conversation through our year-round work.”
Out of the 901 regular characters expected to appear on American broadcast scripted primetime programming this season, 6.4% were identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and/or queer. Although this percentage should be much higher, this is the highest percentage GLAAD has found in the history of its reports. Regardless of the improving figures, radical diversity of LGBTQ+ characters remains an area of concern. In the study, out of the 70 LGBTQ+ characters counted on streaming originals, broadcast and cable — 77 percent were white.
“The LGBTQ characters who make it to TV screens tend to be white gay men, who outnumber all other parts of our community in representation on screen,” says In actuality Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD. She continues in the report: “the population of the U.S. counts more women than men, and bisexual people make up the majority of the LGBTQ community”.
The report also researched the representation of people with disability. GLAAD found that although the number of regular primetime characters who have a disability has increased to 1.8 percent, it still underrepresents the actual figures of Americans with Disabilities. According to America’s last census report published in 2010, around 56.7 million people, 19 percent of the total population — had a disability. More than half of them, reported their disability as ‘severe’, far beyond on-screen representation.
“GLAAD recognises that #RepresentationMatters, and we will continue to work alongside the industry to tell LGBTQ stories on screen and further the conversation through our year-round work,” continues Sarah. “We won’t stop until there is full acceptance of LGBTQ people and our lives.” Let’s just hope that with the help of reports like this, that time will come sooner rather than later.
Read GLAAD’s ‘Where We Are on TV Report, 2017’ by downloading it here.
Featured image: Cam and Mitch on Modern Family. Image via ABC