Hollywood made some gains last year when it came to representation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer characters in mainstream films, but it has plenty of room for improvement, according to a new study from GLAAD.
The media advocacy group released its 2019 Studio Responsibility Index on Thursday, which showed an uptick in major Hollywood studio films that were LGBTQ-inclusive, including “Love, Simon,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Green Book” and “Annihilation.” The study examined the movies released in 2018 by the top studios and found that of the 110 total features, 20 (or 18.2%) included LGBTQ characters.
However, GLAAD found that of the total 45 LGBTQ characters featured in these 2018 releases, only 19 (42%) were people of color — down from 57% LGBTQ characters of color (16 of 28) in 2017. Additionally, none of these mainstream films included any transgender or nonbinary characters.
“The successful releases of films including ‘Love, Simon,’ ‘Deadpool 2’ and ‘Blockers’ brought fresh LGBTQ stories to audiences around the world and have raised the bar for LGBTQ inclusion in film,” said GLAAD President and Chief Executive Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement.
“While the film industry should include more stories of LGBTQ people of color and transgender people, studios are finally addressing the calls from LGBTQ people and allies around the world who want to see more diversity in films,” Ellis added.
Some positive gains include how LGBTQ characters saw more screen time in 2018 compared to previous years (with 10 films clocking more than 10 minutes of screen time for an LGBTQ character). Additionally, for the first time in the history of the report, the total number of films featuring gay characters was equal to the total number of films that included lesbian characters (55%).
However, with 26 LGBTQ characters having less than three minutes of screen time (16 of them having less than a minute) and bisexual representation in LGBTQ-inclusive films at a mere 15%, GLAAD noted there is room for improvement.
The study also pointed out that LGBTQ men still outnumber LGBTQ women onscreen, and that for the first time in five years, no LGBTQ-inclusive animated or family films were released.
GLAAD’s report recommended studios aim for more LGBTQ inclusion in animated/family films, tell more stories about characters with intersectional identities and follow TV’s lead when it comes to trans representation.
Since 2012, GLAAD has tracked lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer representation in mainstream films by examining the top seven Hollywood studios (according to box office grosses reported by Box Office Mojo): 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros.
GLAAD analyzes the overall quantity, quality and diversity of LGBTQ representation of each studio film and keeps a tally of the total number of LGBTQ characters in each film, recording each character’s race, sexual orientation and gender identity.
Based on these findings, GLAAD assigns each studio a grade: excellent, good, insufficient, poor or failing. (Films released by a studio’s specialty division, such as Focus Features and Fox Searchlight, are analyzed separately.)
After its 2018 report concluded that 2017 was the worst year of LGBTQ representation in mainstream movies in the history of the study, GLAAD called on the studios to ensure at least 20% of their annual releases included LGBTQ characters by 2021 and 50% by 2024.
Four of the seven studios rebounded this year by meeting that 20% goal individually: Fox (40%), Universal (30%), Warner Bros. (22%) and Paramount (20%).
Another milestone in this year’s study was Fox and Universal both earning a “good” rating. This is the first time since the report was launched that two studios were scored “good.” Fox’s LGBTQ-inclusive 2018 releases included the acclaimed teen romance “Love, Simon,” the Oscar-winning biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” and the superhero comedy “Deadpool 2.” The comedy “Blockers” and Oscar winner “Green Book” were among Universal’s LGBTQ-inclusive movies.
Lionsgate, which released one film with LGBTQ characters, and Disney, with no LGBTQ-inclusive films, received “failing” grades.
Disney has had the weakest history when it comes to LGBTQ-inclusive films, and GLAAD’s report notes that its acquisition of Fox provides the studio with a chance to make strides if it moves forward with releases of Fox’s previously announced all-ages comics adaptations such as “Nimona,” “Goldie Vance” and “Lumberjanes.”
Read the full 2019 Studio Responsibility Index here.