LGBTQ Characters Are Dropping on Television

LGBTQ characters are falling out of focus on the small screen.

On Tuesday, GLAAD released the findings of the 19th edition of Where We Are on TV, a report from the media watchdog group that analyzes the number of LGBTQ regular and recurring characters on scripted primetime broadcast, scripted primetime cable and scripted series on eight major streaming platforms that aired between June 1, 2023, and May 31, 2024.

The study, which lands at a time of immense change in Hollywood following last year’s dual strikes and layoffs across the industry, finds that LGBTQ characters are dropping considerably across broadcast, cable and streaming for the second straight year to 468 from last year’s total of 596. Of those counted, 36 percent of the 468 LGBTQ characters will not be returning.

On broadcast TV, GLAAD counted 39 LGBTQ regulars featured on 64 primetime series, a drop of 31 characters, or 44 percent, from the previous year’s study. The dip, however, can partially be attributed to the decreasing number of primetime scripted series overall on broadcast television. The 2022-23 TV season featured 88 shows, while there are 64 series that were counted for this recent study. The story is similar on cable where GLAAD counted 77 LGBTQ characters (regular and recurring), a decrease of 62 characters, or a drop of 45 percent, from last year’s 139. Thirty-eight of the 77 characters will not be returning due to endings or cancellations of the series or limited series.

In recent years, streaming has emerged as the home to the most LGBTQ characters. This year was no different as the study found 327 LGBTQ characters featured on streaming originals; however, that represented a drop of 29 characters from the previous year. Of the 327 counted, 119 of those, or 36 percent, will not be returning due to series endings or cancellations.

Other key findings of the report: of 468 LGBTQ characters, there were 24 transgender characters, a decrease of eight from the previous study; there were 232 characters of color, a decrease of 72 from the previous year; and only one LGBTQ character was found living with HIV — Tim Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey) in Showtime’s miniseries Fellow Travelers.

“GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV study found a number of concerning decreases across the board in the past two years, alongside a changing industry on all fronts which is seeing increased vertical integration and contracting budgets and staff,” said Megan Townsend, GLAAD senior director of entertainment research and analysis.

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