Record number of gay characters on US television

GLAAD study finds ABC channel leading way, while programs Glee and True Blood have lion's share of LGBT characters

Record number of gay characters on US television
05 October 2012

The number of gay characters on US television has reached a record high, according to a new study.

The Where We Are on TV report by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reviewed scripted LGBT primetime characters in the upcoming 2012-2013 television season.

It found that after a decrease last year, the number of regular lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters on broadcast networks has risen to the highest ever recorded, while the overall LGBT character count also increased on cable television.

‘This year’s increase of LGBT characters on television reflects a cultural change in the way gay and lesbian people are seen in our society,’ said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. 

‘More and more Americans have come to accept their LGBT family members, friends, coworkers and peers, and as audiences tune into their favorite programs, they expect to see the same diversity of people they encounter in their daily lives.’

LGBT characters now account for 4.4% of scripted series regulars in the 2012-2013 broadcast television schedule. This is up from 2.9% in 2011, 3.9% in 2010, 3% in 2009, 2.6% in 2008 and 1.1% in 2007.

Regular LGBT characters on scripted cable television also rose this year to 35, up from 29, for the 2012-2013 season.

Four out of the five broadcast networks reviewed have increased the number of LGBT characters, with ABC seeing the biggest boost.

Musical Glee stands out as the most inclusive show on broadcast television, while True Blood has the lion’s share on cable.

‘It is vital for networks to weave complex and diverse storylines of LGBT people in the different programs they air,’ Graddick added. 

‘When young LGBT people see loving couples like Callie and Arizona on Grey’s Anatomy or Degrassi’s confident transgender high school student Adam Torres, they find characters they can look up to and slowly start building the courage to live authentically.’

This also marks the eighth year that GLAAD has analyzed the race/ethnicity and gender demographics of all 701 series regular characters expected to appear on primetime broadcast television in the upcoming season.

Of the 31 announced LGBT regular characters in the 2012-2013 primetime broadcast season, 11 are people of color (35.5%), and one will be a person with a disability.

In one area that has seen great improvement, GLAAD counted seven regular or recurring black LGBT characters on broadcast television, while last year counted none at all.

From research and information provided by the five broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and The CW — GLAAD’s TV study reviewed 97 scripted television programs scheduled to air this upcoming season on the broadcasts networks, and counted a total of 701 series regular characters. 31 of those are LGBT, as are an additional 19 recurring characters.

Watch gay Glee characters Blaine and Kurt kiss below:

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