LGBTQ representation on television reached a record high in the 2018-19 season, according to a report GLAAD released on Thursday.
In its latest Where We Are Now report, the advocacy group found that LGBTQ characters constituted 8.8% of regulars in prime time scripted shows on broadcast and cable and in series on the streaming services Amazon, Hulu and Netflix.
That marks a record high in the 23 years that GLAAD has tracked LGBTQ representation on the small screen and is up from last year’s high of 6.4%.
The survey also found that LGBTQ characters on broadcast television are almost evenly divided between men and women and that for the first time there are now more LGBTQ people of color than white LGBTQ people on broadcast television.
The organization emphasized that the advances are coming at a time of political peril for the LGBTQ community. Earlier this week it was reported that the Trump administration might attempt to define gender as an immutable condition determined at birth by a person’s genitalia. Republicans have also expressed broad support for “religious liberty” laws that critics say enable discrimination.
“With anti-LGBTQ policies being debated here and abroad, the stories and characters on television are more critical than ever before to build understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ people,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD’s president and CEO.
GLAAD’s tally is based on shows that have aired and are expected to air between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019.
LGBTQ representation is up across all of the broadcast networks too. The CBS series “Instinct,” starring Alan Cumming, made history as the first hourlong broadcast drama featuring a gay lead character. In another milestone, the CW drama “Supergirl” is set to introduce television’s first transgender superhero, Nia Nal (aka Dreamer).
Not surprisingly, the younger-skewing CW leads the broadcast networks in terms of representation, with LGBTQ characters accounting for 16% of its series regulars. CBS is in fifth place at 5.4%.
GLAAD says there is room for improvement on broadcast television, where characters skew disproportionately toward gay men, underrepresenting lesbian women and bisexual people.
On cable, FX moved ahead of Freeform to become the most LGBTQ-inclusive network, thanks in part to the groundbreaking Ryan Murphy-produced series “Pose,” which features a large ensemble of transgender performers. The drama, which premiered in June and is set in the 1980s ballroom scene in New York, accounts for more than half the transgender representation on cable television.
With shows such as “Orange Is the New Black” and the upcoming “Tales of the City,” Netflix leads its streaming rivals in terms of overall LGBTQ characters. Following the cancellation of “One Mississippi” and “Mozart in the Jungle,” Amazon ranked a distant third behind Hulu, and most of its LGBTQ characters appear in “Transparent,” which is heading into its final season.
You can read GLAAD’s complete report here.