LGBTQ representation on TV has fallen for the first time in five years

Virgin Radio

15 Jan 2021, 16:56

The representation of LGBTQ people on TV has fallen for the first time in five years. That’s according to an annual report by LGBTQ advocacy organisation GLAAD.

The report was published yesterday,  called ‘Where We Are on TV’. It assessed the representation in the 2020-21 season, and includes broadcast, cable and streaming shows expected to premiere new seasons between June 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021.

One of the stand-out findings was the number of regular characters on primetime TV who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer decreased to 9.1% in the 2020-21 season.

Last year saw a record high of 10.2%.

It’s not all bad news though, as they found that the number of recurring LGBTQ characters (defined as people who make multiple appearances in a series but are not part of the main cast) has gone up slightly. There’s 31 this year, compared with 30 last year.

The pandemic is being blamed for the large drop in LGBTQ characters, down from 488 to 360. Many shows had to be paused due to COVID, and that included many shows with LGBTQ characters, such as Euphoria and Killing Eve. The delay means they weren’t included in the research period.

The number of transgender characters also decreased. The number has gone down from 38 to 29 last season. One positive aspect is that the percentage of characters who were then played or voiced by transgender actors increased from 82% to 90%. The number of LGBTQ characters who are bisexual increased slightly, from 26% to 28%.

GLAAD president and chief executive, Sarah Kate Ellis said the shifting cultural and political landscape presented “an opportunity to break new ground with stories” and to create characters who “do not reinforce harmful stereotypes”.

She says: “Representation matters more than ever as people turn to entertainment storytelling for connection and escape.”