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GLAAD Report Reveals Decrease in LGBTQ+ Representation on Television

Last Updated: July 1, 2023
LGBTQ characters on screen dropped from 637 characters to 596 characters from last year’s report, as noted by GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are On TV” report.

The evolution of representation and inclusivity on television has grown exponentially within the past decades. This year, GLAAD counted 659 series regulars set to appear on scripted primetime broadcasts for the 2022-2023 season.  According to the report, There are an additional 31 LGBTQ recurring characters counted, bringing the total to 101 LGBTQ characters on broadcast television. 

The annual Where We Are on TV report reflects and analyzes the number of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on scripted primetime broadcast, scripted primetime cable, and scripted series on the eight major streaming platforms which premiered or are expected to return between June 1, 2022, and May 31, 2023. 

This year marks 27 years of GLAAD conducting this study of LGBTQ characters on television and the 18th edition of the Where We Are on TV report.

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Where Has Television Done Better?

This year, racial diversity is up on cable and streaming among LGBTQ characters, with at least 50 % of characters on each platform being people of color. The number of LGBTQ characters living with HIV has increased to eight, yet none will return next year.

“We have seen with shows like The Last of Us, Stranger Things, The Umbrella Academy, and more that when networks and streamers put their full brand influence into LGBTQ-inclusive shows, our stories are successful critically and commercially,” said GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis.  

Over half of all LGBTQ characters across platforms were people of color, with 304 out of 596 making 51% of all LGBTQ characters POC. Through continuous efforts toward representation, the study also showed that there were 27 LGBTQ characters (4.5% of all LGBTQ characters) in this report counted with a disability. Though there has been progress in certain areas the work for visibility is still prevalent.

(L-R) Caleb McLaughlin, Priah Ferguson, Eduardo Franco, Joseph Quinn and Jamie Campbell Bower attend Netflix’s “Stranger Things” SAG event at Netflix Tudum Theater on November 13, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Presley Ann/Getty Images for Netflix)

Where Did We See a Decline?

GLAAD continues to call for greater representation of LGBTQ people of color on television to reflect the true demographics of the community. On the streaming services Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Disney+, HBO Max, Hulu, Netflix, Paramount+ and Peacock, GLAAD counted 239 series of regular LGBTQ characters and 117 LGBTQ recurring characters, bringing the total to 356 LGBTQ characters. That is a decrease of two characters from the previous year’s report. 

“As the media landscape continues to grow and change, it is imperative that these companies stand behind the excellent LGBTQ storytelling their creative teams are telling, so these series are able to more deeply explore the lives and stories of characters audiences have come to love,” Ellis said. “With attacks on the LGBTQ community in political and news spaces, Hollywood has more influence than ever, and it’s critical the stories they invest in telling include fair and accurate depictions of LGBTQ people that reflect the humanity of our community.”

For the past four years, over 50 percent of LGBTQ characters on broadcast have been people of color, but this year that number is down slightly to 48%. 

GLAAD and the Future of the LGBTQ Inclusion on TV panel, TCA Summer Press Tour, Los Angeles, USA – 04 Aug 2017- Megan Townsend (David Buchan/Variety/Penske Media via Getty Images)

How to Move Forward

The Where We Are on TV report continues to show the efforts being made by these major companies to be inclusive in the projects showcased.

“It’s exciting to see significant progress made in racial diversity of LGBTQ characters as well as growth in storytelling for kids and families,” said Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s Senior Director of Entertainment Research and Analysis. “However, we still find that LGBTQ inclusion is not evenly prioritized across all networks or platforms.”

The reports work as a call to action to Hollywood executives to provide more platforms to the LGBTQ+ community in front of the camera but behind the scenes as well. “At a time when transgender Americans are facing a growing number of dangerous and discriminatory attacks in rhetoric and policy, Hollywood players who are real allies to our community have a responsibility and an opportunity to create stories that humanize trans people and educate viewers about being transgender,” Ellis said.