Gay characters on the rise on network TV

They’re out, loud and proud. A new study says there are more gay and bisexual characters on prime-time network drama and comedy series, citing an increase from 2011. ABC leads the pack, with CBS being the “most improved.”

Kevin Alejandro at True Blood premiere

After backsliding last year, network television has shown an increase in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters for the 2012-2013 season, says a new study by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the Associated Press reports.

The 17th “Where We Are on TV” report, which studied 97 prime-time network drama and comedy series scheduled to air during the 2012-2013 season, found that 31 out of a total of 701 regular characters are LGBT. That makes a total of 4.4 percent of the characters, compared with 2.9 percent in 2011.

“It is vital for networks to weave complex and diverse story lines of LGBT people in the different programs they air,” GLAAD president Herndon Graddick said. “More and more Americans have come to accept their LGBT family members, friends, co-workers and peers, and as audiences tune in to their favorite programs, they expect to see the same diversity of people they encounter in their daily lives.”

ABC led the networks, with 10 LGBT characters; Fox stepped back into second place after leading last year, with six. CBS was found to be the most improved network, with four characters, or 2.8 percent of its total characters being identified as LGBT people, up from 0.7 last year.

CBS’s new fall series Partners is a comedy about childhood friends and business partners, one of whom is gay.

Mainstream cable stations also showed an improvement this year, with 35 LGBT characters, up from 29 last season.

The HBO drama True Blood is cable’s most sexually diverse program, the study verifies, with six lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters (actor Kevin Alejandro, pictured above, plays a gay character in the series).

But Showtime is the cable leader, with 12 LGBT characters.

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