GLAAD: LGBT TV Characters Not Black Enough

GLAAD’s annual “Where are We on TV” report for the 2015-2016 TV season finds that while LGBT character representation in TV is up, too many new gay and bisexual characters are white, and the transgender community and those living with HIV are underrepresented.

The LGBT advocacy group dropped the annual report Tuesday, which looks at the gender, ethnicity, and sexuality of characters found in broadcast and cable TV shows, in addition to programs on streaming services, such as Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon.

The study finds the number of regular LGBT characters increased from 64 in 2014 to 84 this year on cable, bringing the total number of recurring LGBT characters to 58.

Of characters combined between cable networks and streaming services, 70 percent of LGBT characters were white, despite an overall increase in black characters, per the report, which has been tracking character ethnicity for 11 years.

Of the 145 regular black characters on TV, 86 of them are men and only 59 of them are women, although women overall now make up 43 percent of overall characters.

GLAAD reports numbers for women are up 3 percent from last year.

Representations of bisexual men also increased from just 10 characters last year, to 18 in 2015, although GLAAD concludes many of those depictions still “reinforce harmful stereotypes about bisexual people,” according to Entertainment Weekly.

“Each of us lives at the intersection of many identities and it’s important that television characters reflect the full diversity of the LGBT community,” Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO & President of GLAAD, said in a news release to EW.

“It is not enough to just include LGBT characters,” added Ellis. “Those characters need to be portrayed with thought and care to accurately represent an often tokenized community.”

The study finds there are no transgender characters to be found in primetime broadcast programming, and there are only three recurring trans characters counted in all of cable.

Additionally, the percentage of regular characters living with a disability on broadcast has dropped from 1.4 percent last year, to only 0.9 percent this year.

Only one recurring character on broadcast or cable TV is depicted as being HIV-positive, and transgender TV characters are absent from primetime broadcasts.

There are only three trans characters in all of cable.

Transgender characters are more common on streaming services, where seven characters can be found, however the study notes that trans men are underrepresented, as six of those characters are trans women.


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