TIME Television

LGBTQ Characters on TV Hit Record High, GLAAD Survey Finds

TimesTalks Presents: "Orange Is the New Black"
Randy Brooke—Getty Images (L-R) Natasha Lyonne, Taylor Schilling, Danielle Brooks, Samira Wiley and Uzo Aduba attend TimesTalks presents: 'Orange Is the New Black' attend the TimesTalks presents: 'Orange Is the New Black' at The Times Center on June 24, 2016 in New York City.

However, the trend of killing off queer women on TV persists

Broadcast television has the highest percentage of LGBTQ characters ever this year, a new survey found.

Of 895 series regular characters on broadcast TV, 43 (4.8 %) were identified as LGBTQ, along with an additional 28 recurring LGBTQ characters, according to GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” diversity survey. That’s the highest percentage of LGBTQ characters in the 12-year history of GLAAD’s tracking.

The survey also found that there was a record-high percentage of black series regular characters on broadcast TV, at 20%, and a record-high percentage of series regular characters with disabilities, at 1.7%.

Numbers remained the same on cable, staying at a total of 142 LGBTQ characters, while increasing on streaming originals, with a total of 65 LGBTQ characters. According to the survey, TV this year includes many transgender characters on every platform, portrayed by transgender actors.

But “numbers remain only part of the story,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis cautioned.

“For all the advancement made, many LGBTQ characters still fall into outdated stereotypes or harmful tropes,” Ellis wrote in the survey.

The stereotypes include the tendency to kill off LGBTQ characters—throughout 2016, more than 25 queer female characters have died on TV.

“Most of these deaths served no other purpose than to further the narrative of a more central (and often straight, cisgender) character,” Ellis wrote. “When there are so few lesbian and bisexual women on television, the decision to kill these characters in droves sends a toxic message about the worth of queer female stories.”

According to Ellis, there is much more work to do to “ensure fair, accurate, and inclusive stories.”

“It is not enough for LGBTQ characters simply to be present on screen; they must be crafted with thought, attention and depth,” she wrote.

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team