Skip to main content

GLAAD: Record Number of LGBTQ Characters on Broadcast TV Shows

LGBTQ representation on broadcast television networks is at a high point according to the latest GLAAD “Where WE Are On TV” report, the LGBTQ advocacy organization reported Thursday.

According to the report, LGBTQ characters represent 4.8% of all characters on broadcast television shows during the 2016-17 television season, the highest percentage since GLAAD began tracking all broadcast regular characters 12 years ago. There was also an increase in the number of regular LGBTQ characters on cable, up to 92 from 84. However, LGBTQ recurring characters dropped year-over-year from 58 to 50, according to the survey.

In addition, GLAAD reported a record number of black regular characters (20%) as well as regular characters with disabilities (1.7%) on broadcast TV series during the 2016-17 season. Also, the number of transgender regular and recurring characters has more than doubled since last year’s report.

On the downside, more than 25 lesbian and bisexual female-identifying characters were killed off on scripted television and streaming services since the beginning of 2016, according to the report. GLAAD also said that cable and streaming platforms still need to include more racially diverse LGBTQ characters. On cable 72% of LGBTQ characters are white, while 71% of LGBTQ characters on streaming services are non-ethnic, according to the study.

“While it is heartening to see progress being made in LGBTQ representation on television, it’s important to remember that numbers are only part of the story, and we must continue the push for more diverse and intricate portrayals of the LGBTQ community,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO in a statement. “GLAAD will continue to work with Hollywood to tell nuanced LGBTQ stories that accelerate acceptance – and hold the networks, streaming services, and content creators accountable for the images and storylines they present.”

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.