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Home / Megan Townsend

LGBTQ representation on TV reaches record high, report shows

More LGBTQ characters are being seen on screen than ever before, according to GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report.

Nearly 12% of regularly appearing characters are members of the LGBTQ community appear across all broadcast networks. The report analyzes LGBTQ representation across broadcast, streaming and cable series for the 2021-22 season ending in May. GLAAD works with networks and services to confirm which characters are members of the LGBTQ community.

A record high percentage of queer characters in the 26 years since GLAAD began measuring representation on TV was reported. It is up 2.8 percentage points from last year’s report.

Reported increases in representation was not relegated to broadcast networks. There were 138 characters of the LGBTQ community on cable series, up from 118 in 2021. There were 637 LGBTQ characters identified on TV.

There were five newer streaming services added to this year’s report. They were Apple TV+, Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and Peacock, joining Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. There were 358 LGBTQ characters on streaming shows, up from 217 from last year, according to GLAAD.

Netflix had the most with 155. HBO Max followed with 71, Amazon and Hulu had 36 each, and Apple TV+ had six.

Among broadcast networks, CW had the most LGBTQ characters, followed by Fox. Of those characters, 56 of them — or 40% — were lesbians.

“To see not only the numbers go up, but particularly to see improvement when it comes to parts of the community who have been left out of the story and left offscreen is a really great change to see this year, and something that we’re very excited about,” Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s director of entertainment research and analysis, said in a statement.

The report revealed 49 characters — or 35% — are gay men, a decrease of five percentage points from last year.

Racial diversity of LGBTQ characters was reported up on broadcast and streaming services, but down on cable. For a fourth year in a row, LGBTQ people of color (58%) outweighed white LGBTQ people on broadcast networks.

GLAAD has advocated for having more than half of LGBTQ characters be people of color. Representation of LGBTQ people of color on cable decreased this year to 45% and representation of LGBTQ people of color on streaming increased to 49%. GLAAD said it continues to call on all platforms to ensure at least half of LGBTQ characters are also people of color.

“The growing state of LGBTQ representation on television is a signal that Hollywood is truly starting to recognize the power of telling LGBTQ stories that audiences around the world connect with,” GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “At a time when anti-LGBTQ legislation and violence continues to increase, it is cultural institutions like television that take on the crucial role of changing hearts and minds through diverse and inclusive storytelling. Networks and platforms must continue to prioritize telling LGBTQ stories that have been long overlooked, with a specific focus on the trans community, LGBTQ people of color, people living with HIV, and LGBTQ people with disabilities.”

The GLAAD report counts characters who have appeared or are set to appear on primetime series between June 21, 2021 and May 31, 2022.

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