LGBTQ characters reach record-high TV representation, study finds

LGBTQ characters have hit record-high representation numbers for the 2018-19 television season, GLAAD’s annual “Where We are on TV” report for 2018 finds.

LGBTQ series regulars on broadcast have hit 8.8% (75 characters), with 50% of those characters being LGBTQ people of color. Another 38 LGBTQ characters fell into the recurring category. Additionally, LGTBQ characters on broadcast television are made up of equal percentages of male and female characters, improving upon last year, when it was split 55/45 in favor of men.

On cable, LGBTQ people of color make up 46% of the regular and recurring LGTBQ characters (120 series regular, 88 recurring), and on streaming they make up 48% (75 series regular and 37 recurring).

“With anti-LGBTQ policies being debated here and abroad, the stories and characters on television are more critical than ever before to build understanding and acceptance of LGBTQ people,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, in a statement.

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GLAAD Media Awards 2018: Red carpet arrivals
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GLAAD Media Awards 2018: Red carpet arrivals
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Amber Laign and Robin Roberts attend the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Lea Michele attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Alexis Bledel attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Melissa Ethridge attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Laverne Cox attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Nyle DiMarco attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli attend the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Gigi Gorgeous attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Gloria Carter attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Sandra Lee attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Adam Lambert attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Robin Roberts attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Brad Goreski attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Janet Mock attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Ross Mathews attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Nico Tortorella attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Frankie Grande attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Auli'i Cravalho attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Joshua Rush attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Tommy Dorfman attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Nathan Lee Graham attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis and GLAAD Board Member Pamela Stewart attend the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Stephanie Rice attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Dre Barone attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Nedra Belle attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Beth David and Esteban Bravo attend the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Geena Rocero attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Wrabel attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: GLAAD Board Member Tiffany R. Warren attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Amiyah Scott attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Brandon Wolf attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Eliza Lathan attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Alex Newell attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Reggie Bullock attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Alexis Michelle attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Zeke Smith attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Dusty Ray Bottoms attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Marti Gould Cummings attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Philip Picardi attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Juliet Evancho and Jackie Evancho attend the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by J. Merritt/Getty Images for GLAAD)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 05: Asia Kate Dillon attends the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
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Shows that GLAAD specifically called out for moving the needle culturally and reaping ratings rewards for its inclusive storytelling include “Will & Grace,” “Supergirl,” “Empire” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”

“[These shows] demonstrate that audiences are hungry for new stories and perspectives,” Ellis said.

The report dives deeply into the 2018-19 television season to examine series across broadcast and cable networks, as well as streaming services Amazon, Hulu and Netflix. Across all of these platforms, the report found that the total number of bisexual series regular or recurring characters is 117 (up from 93 last year), while there are 26 trangender regular or recurring characters (up from 17 last year) and seven HIV-positive regular or recurring characters (up from only two last year).

Netflix, which churns out one of the higher volumes of programming in general, features the highest number of LGBTQ characters across streaming services, the report found, while FX had the highest numbers out of the cable networks studied.

The report also looked at race and disability representation, noting that there was a record-high percentage of series regular and recurring black characters at 22%, while Latinx representation remained at 8%, a record from last year. API series regular characters increased to 8% on broadcast television. Series regulars with disabilities hit a record high, as well, but only at 2.1% (up from 1.8% from last year), which represents a total of 18 characters.

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