Last year, the advocacy group, which monitors representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the media, challenged the television industry to reach 10% inclusion for LGBTQ characters on broadcast TV by 2020. The challenge was met: LGBTQ characters made up 10.2% of regulars in primetime scripted shows by broadcast networks.
That means 90 of the 879 series regular characters on ABC, CBS, the CW, Fox and NBC this season are LGBTQ, up from 75 last season. (Additionally, there are 30 LGBTQ recurring characters on broadcast this season.)
The 10.2% number, up from last year’s 8.8%, follows records highs in 2016, 2017 and 2018. And it stands as a new record high in the 24 years that GLAAD has tracked LGBTQ representation on the small screen.
The number of regular LGBTQ characters on scripted cable increased to 121, with 94 recurring characters. When it came to the Big Three streaming services Netflix, Amazon and Hulu, there were 109 LGBTQ regular characters.
GLAAD noted that increasing representation is crucial in fueling broader acceptance in the face of divisive rhetoric.
“At a time when the cultural climate is growing increasingly divisive, increased representation of LGBTQ stories and characters on television is especially critical to advance LGBTQ acceptance,” wrote Sarah Kate Ellis, president and chief executive of GLAAD in a statement. “Shows like 'Pose,’ 'Schitt’s Creek,’ 'Batwoman’ and 'Billions' demonstrate that not only are LGBTQ stories and characters on TV becoming more diverse, but that viewers everywhere continue to respond with extreme positivity.”
With 15.4% of series regulars counted as LGBTQ, the CW ranks as the most inclusive of the broadcast networks, thanks in part to its slate of “Arrow"-verse shows. Showtime, meanwhile, tops the cable networks with its number of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters; Netflix leads the charge for the streamers.
The survey once again found that gay men make up the majority of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on broadcast, cable and streaming platforms — in line with previous years.
GLAAD’s tally is based on shows that have aired and are expected to air between June 1, 2019, and May 31, 2020. (TV movies or film specials are not included.)
The report also found, for the second consecutive year, that LGBTQ people of color increased significantly on broadcast and cable, with shows such as “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” “Superstore” and the upcoming “9-1-1: Lonestar.” Streaming television, meanwhile, saw a decrease in racial diversity of LGBTQ characters.
Of the 120 LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on broadcast, 62 (or 52%) are people of color, which is a 2% increase from last year. Broadcast is the only platform on which at least half of LGBTQ characters are people of color. Of the LGBTQ characters on cable, 48% are people of color, an increase of 2% from last year. Of the LGBTQ characters on streaming series, 41% are people of color, a decrease of 7%.