GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, is reporting that for the first time in history, LGBTQ+ characters represent about 8.8 percent of series regulars on broadcast television. About 50 percent of those characters are also people of color.
On top of that achievement, 38 of those characters are recurring. On cable television, LGBTQ+ people of color make up 46 percent of regular and recurring characters (approximately 120 series regulars and 88 recurring characters). Meanwhile, on streaming sites, LGBTQ+ people of color make up 48 percent (75 series regulars and 37 recurring).
TV series Will & Grace, Supergirl, Empire, and How to Get Away with Murder were specifically called out by GLAAD for writing inclusive stories for people of all backgrounds — and they have the ratings to show it.
Supergirl's presence on the list doesn't surprise us one bit considering Kara and Lena were runners up in Zimbio's March Madness challenge earlier this year.
The gap between men and women in the community has also closed — it's now 50/50. Just last year, that number was 55/45, with more men represented than women.
"[These shows] demonstrate that audiences are hungry for new stories and perspectives," Sara Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement. "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."
GLAAD's report dives into the current television season to analyze series across all mediums, including streaming services. Across these platforms, the organization found bisexual series regulars or recurring characters had risen from 93 in 2017-18 to 117. This list includes Clarke Griffin of The 100 and Eleanor Shellstrop of The Good Place, we presume.
Meanwhile, there are 26 transgender regular or recurring characters vs. 17 in 2017-18, and the number of HIV-positive regular or recurring characters raised from 2 to 7.
As anyone with Netflix knows, the streaming giant offers the highest number of LGBTQ+ characters across streaming services, while FX (home to American Horror Story) has the highest cable network numbers.
The report also took the representation of race and disability into account. 22 percent (another record high) of series regulars and recurring characters were Black. Meanwhile, Latinx representation remained at eight percent, which was last year's number. There are 18 regular characters with disabilities, which is also a record high.
While progress has been made, there's much more to be done. It's sad that LGBTQ+ people are encouraged to celebrate a mere 8.8 percent, but it's growth in the right direction.
Not every example of representation is a good one, so while this includes the numbers, it doesn't take into account the quality of each character's story or presentation. It's not all good. Many of these characters aren't written well or don't get much screen time.
In 2019, we're hopeful these numbers will increase even more thanks to characters like Ruby Rose's Batwoman, a lesbian superhero, who's taking up stake at various networks.
What number would you like to see for the 2019-20 GLAAD report?