Number of Gay Characters on TV Continues to Rise


LOS ANGELES – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) today released the 14th annual “Where We Are On TV” study, a comprehensive review of scripted LGBT primetime characters in the 2009-2010 television season. After more than doubling last year,the overall number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) characters on broadcast networks continues a steady rise.

The report shows that 18 LGBT characters will account for 3% of scripted series regulars in the 2009-2010 broadcast television schedule, up from 1.3% in 2006, 1.1% in 2007, and 2.6% in 2008. The number of scripted LGBT series regulars found on mainstream cable networks continue to decline, from 40 in 2007, 32 in 2008 to only 25 this year.

From research and information provided by the five broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW — GLAAD’s “Where We Are On TV” study reviewed 79 scripted comedies and dramas announced to air this upcoming season, and counted a total of 600 series regulars, 18 of which are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

“It is promising to see not only an increase in the quantity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender television characters but that storylines about the LGBT community are becoming more reflective of current issues impacting our lives,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios. “Americans now see LGBT couples marrying, raising families and contributing to their communities. As more and more Americans see these fair and accurate images of our community reflected on the small screen, they come to accept and better understand their LGBT family members and neighbors.”

For this upcoming season, ABC continues to lead the other broadcast networks in LGBT representation, with eight LGBT characters out of 168 total series regular characters (5%), the highest number and percentage of LGBT characters of any network for the 2009-2010 season. FOX, which only two years ago featured zero series regular LGBT characters at the launch of the season, now offers four LGBT series regulars out of 105 (4%). NBC has three series regular LGBT characters (3%) out of a total of 126. The CW is showing gradual improvement with two LGBT series regular characters out of 69 (3%). Unfortunately, CBS continues to disappoint. Out of 132 series regular characters, none are LGBT. For a complete list of LGBT characters on broadcast television, please click here.

On mainstream cable networks, the number of announced LGBT series regular characters dropped to 25 from last year’s total of 32. The presence of LGBT-focused cable networks here! and Logo, which program specifically for LGBT viewers, add an additional 27 series regular LGBT characters. For a complete list of LGBT characters on cable, click here.

This marks the fifth year that GLAAD has analyzed the demographics of the race, gender and ethnicity of all the 600 series regular characters expected to appear on the broadcast networks in the upcoming season. Male characters continue to outweigh female characters 57% (345) to 43% (255) in overall numbers, while 77% (466) of all series regular characters are white, down 2% from last year. African American representation has remains at 11% (67) while Latino/a representation has dropped to 5% (27). GLAAD counted 23 Asian Pacific Islander characters (4%), four more than last season.

Of the 18 announced LGBT regular charac­ters in the 2009-2010 primetime broadcast season, only four are people of color. For complete analysis of diversity on the broadcast networks, click here.

“Our analysis also shows where there’s still work to be done. This past year, we’ve seen real progress from many networks toward making their scripted programming more LGBT inclusive. At the same time, we continue to advocate that other networks including CBS follow suit and that networks across the board better reflect the diversity of the LGBT community,” Barrios said.

This research serves as a benchmark for GLAAD’s advocacy efforts of increases in LGBT characters and stories. The storylines and characters in the Where We Are On TV report will later be reviewed for GLAAD’s Network Responsibility Index, released after May 2010 sweeps, which grades networks on overall LGBT impressions.

Complete results of GLAAD’s "Where We Are On TV" report can be accessed here.


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