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Hollywood homophobia: Study finds that LGBTI actors still face discrimination

Hollywood homophobia: Study finds that LGBTI actors still face discrimination

Hollywood representation of transgender people

The results of a study have been published that find that many actors still believe Hollywood is rife with homophobia.

The research was undertaken by respected LGBT think thank, the Williams Institute at UCLA, and was funded by leading actor’s union, SAG-AFTRA [Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists]. Ken Howard, the union’s president, described the study as ‘unprecedented’.

Undertaken in 2012, the study polled 5,700 SAG-AFTRA members working in Hollywood, both LGBT and non-LGBT. Among its findings, it reported:

  • More than half of LGBT performers had heard anti-LGBT comments whilst on set, and over a third had witnessed disrespectful treatment that has also been noticed by non-LGBT performers.
  • Around a third believe that casting directors, directors and producers might be biased against LGBT performers, which in turn could affect hiring decisions.
  • Over half of LGB performers have heard directors and producers make anti-gay comments about actors. About a fifth of gay performers have experienced casting directors making comments about their sexual orientation or gender expression that made them uncomfortable.
  • LGBT respondents are less likely than heterosexual respondents to have an agent, which may put them at a disadvantage when looking for work. Only 36% had revealed to agents that they knew that they were gay.
  • Those polled generally thought that LGB actors are marketable as heterosexual romantic leads, but they also believed that producers and studio executives think LGB actors are less marketable to the public than straight actors: 45% of gay respondents strongly believed this to be the case.
  • While most respondents who played gay roles believed it had no impact on subsequent roles, a quarter of LGB respondents believed it affected their later work.

‘We found that LGBT performers may have substantial barriers to overcome in their search for jobs, said the authors of the study, the UCLA academics MV Lee Badgett and Jody L Herman.

Although these findings make for bleak reading, the study did conclude by saying that most respondents believed that the situation was improving for LGBT people in the entertainment industry.

In fact, amongst the lesbian and gay respondents who were out, 72% said it had no effect on their careers and would encourage others to come out. However, to improve upon that figure further, the authors state, ‘more work will be necessary to make the workplace an equal and fully welcoming place for LGBT performers.’

You can read the full study here.