LGBTQ characters in film representation in Hollywood is at an all-time high now. Thanks to the showrunners driving authentic stories, filmmakers bucking decades-old heteronormative paradigms, actors emboldened to live more honestly and platforms bankrolling so much of it, being gay, queer, transgender has never been more widely embraced in the entertainment industry.
However, it had a long build-up to this point.
Less than a quarter of Hollywood films released in 2018 featured an LGBTQ character, according to a report from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
The 2019 Studio Responsibility Index found that of the 110 releases from the seven largest Hollywood studios in 2018, only 20 included LGBTQ characters.
2019 saw record representation of LGBTQ characters in the 118 films released by major studios, according to a new study by GLAAD. This is a slight improvement of 0.4 percent, an increase of two films from the previous year’s 18.2 percent (20 of 110 films). With films like “Rocketman” and “Booksmart”, 2019 was another record year for LGBTQ representation, but despite gains, major limitations in acknowledging the depth and breadth of queer people on screen persist, according to GLAAD.
Unfortunately, for the first time in five years, LGBTQ representation on television decreased, says the annual report from GLAAD. This is mainly caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The percentage of regular characters scheduled to appear on prime-time scripted broadcast television who identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer decreased to 9.1% in the 2020-21 season, from the previous year’s record high of 10.2%.
The findings were published on January 14th in a report called “Where We Are on TV” which can be found at glaad.org. It concludes representation in the 2020-21 season, defined as broadcast, cable and streaming shows expected to premiere new seasons between June 1, 2020, and May 31, 2021.
Across those platforms, the 2020-21 season includes 360 LGBTQ characters, down from 488 in the 2019-20 season, but the numbers are expected to be lower, because the pandemic made creators and networks cancel or pause productions on several shows and this affected the development of series that feature LGBTQ characters for example “Euphoria” and “Killing Eve”, though these were not included in the research period.
Talking about “Euphoria”, the HBO Special is one of the most ground-breaking LGBTQ shows out right now. While each character in “Euphoria” brings their own individual complexities to the show, the way in which queer people’s identities is examined is original because being queer isn’t their main character trait. Each LGBTQ character has their own battles to fight, and their sexuality or gender identity is always shown as secondary to their plight: never the cause of it.
But, let’s get back to the statistics.
Scripted cable programs demonstrated the largest decrease in LGBTQ representation: Primetime series in the 2020-21 season feature 81 regular LGBTQ characters (down from 121 last season) and 37 recurring ones (down from 94). Original series premiering on the streaming services Amazon, Hulu and Netflix include 95 such series regulars (down from 109) and 46 recurring ones (up from 44).
Sarah Kate Ellis, the GLAAD president and chief executive, 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.”
“Representation matters more than ever as people turn to entertainment storytelling for connection and escape,” – she said.