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GLAAD study finds rise in gay and lesbian characters on TV

The organization has studied both network and cable TV shows and has found that the number of LGBT characters is rising. But they still have a long way to go.


The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has released a report on gay and bisexual characters on “scripted broadcast network TV,” and it reports that in the new season, the number of LGBT characters on TV is at its highest-ever level.

“The 17th annual ‘Where We Are on TV’ report, released Friday, found that 4.4 percent of actors appearing regularly on prime-time network drama and comedy series during the 2012–13 season will portray lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender characters,” said Frazier Moore with the Associated Press. “That is up from 2.9 percent in 2011, which saw a dip in what had been a growing annual trend.”

The number of LGBT characters on cable TV is also going up. The group studied 97 different scripted TV programs, with a total of 701 regular characters. 31 of those characters ended up being LGBT characters.

“ABC has the highest amount, with 10 out of 194, or 5.2 percent, of their regular characters identified as LGBT,” said Moore. “After leading last year, Fox ranks second, with six LGBT characters out of 118 total series regulars, or 5.1 percent.”

CBS had only 4 out of 142 characters, but that is 2.8 percent. The network had only 0.7 percent last year.

According to the study, the improvement represents “an authentic and conscious effort by CBS to improve its diversity,” said Moore.

Glee was named the primetime network show with the most lead gay characters; it has 6. On cable, regular LGBT characters on “mainstream cable television” went up to 35, from 29 last year.

“The HBO drama True Blood remains cable’s most inclusive series, featuring six LGBT characters,” said Moore.

“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 told Moore. “More and more Americans have come to accept their LGBT family members, friends, co-workers and peers, and as audiences tune into their favorite programs, they expect to see the same diversity of people they encounter in their daily lives.”

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