ByElle McFarlane, writer at
'There's always someone younger and hungrier coming down the stairs after you.'
Elle McFarlane

GLAAD, otherwise known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has just released its annual 'Where We Are On TV' report which looks at LGBTQ representation on TV, and they have given us some good, and some bad news. While we are with such wonderfully diverse shows such as , , and , LGBTQ representation in movies is still lagging behind its forward thinking small-screen competitor.

And that's not all. Lesbians have had a particularly brutal year when compared to gay, bisexual, trans and queer characters, let alone their heterosexual counterparts, finding themselves significantly more at risk from being killed off than any other character type. And here I was thinking we'd made some significant progress in overcoming the classic 'bury your gays' trope. Let's break down the findings of the report to get a better idea of how well the LGBTQ community is currently being depicted on-screen.

2016 Welcomes A Record Number Of On-Screen LGBTQ Characters

LGBTQ's On Primetime Broadcast Television

Lucifer - Lucifer Morningstar and Mazikeen
Lucifer - Lucifer Morningstar and Mazikeen
  • Out of the 895 characters featuring on primetime broadcast Television this year, 43 of them were identified as being either lesbian, gay, bisexual, transexual or queer.
  • This means that four point eight percent of all on-screen primetime characters are recognizable as being LGBTQ.
  • Consequently, 2016 has been a groundbreaking year for LGBTQ characters as this is the highest percentage GLAAD has ever documented in all of it's twenty one years. 2015's figure was at just four percent.

LGBTQ's On Streamed Television

The Get Down - Marcus “Dizzee” Kipling
The Get Down - Marcus “Dizzee” Kipling
  • Streamed TV shows on the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Hulu included 65 regular LGBTQ characters which was an increase of six from last year.
  • Lesbians take up a disproportionality large portion of this figure due to the dearth of lesbian characters in Orange is the New Black and One Mississippi, giving them a huge 43 percent share of the representation which is far greater than their representation on broadcast TV.

Transgender Characters Have More Than Doubled Across the Board

  • Wonderfully, the number of transgender characters has more than doubled across all TV platforms since 2015.
  • Last year we saw seven regular or recurring characters, now we have sixteen. This is thanks to like of Transparent, Sense8, Tangerine and American Horror Story.

Bisexual Representation Has, In General, Risen

Shannara Chronicles - Eretria
Shannara Chronicles - Eretria
  • Bisexual characters rose by ten percent to reach an impressive 30 percent on broadcast TV.
  • This rising trend can also be seen on streamed television which rose six percent from last year from 20 to 26 percent overall.
  • However, there was a drop of three percent from 35 to 32 percent on cable television.
  • Overall, bisexual women are represented far more than bisexual men across every platform, which is a rather worrying trend.

However, More Lesbians Are Dying On, Or Disappearing From, Our Small Screens

  • This year, more than 25 lesbian and bisexual female characters died across all TV platforms.
  • So far in 2016 we've mourned deaths in Orange Is The New Black, Masters Of Sex, Wentworth and The Walking Dead.
  • As a whole, lesbian representation on both broadcast and cable Television dropped dramatically, down 16 percentage points for the former, and down two for the latter.

And LGBTQ Representation In The Movies Is Seriously Lagging Behind TV

Star Trek Beyond - Sulu
Star Trek Beyond - Sulu
  • Out of the 126 major studio films of 2015, only 22 featured LGBTQ characters.
  • Out of these characters, only 23 percent were lesbian and nine percent were bisexual, the remaining 68 percent being gay.
  • Only one film in 2015 was classified as being trans-inclusive.
  • Of those LGBTQ characters who do make it on to the big screen, Kate Ellis the CEO of GLAAD has said:

“Too often, the few LGBT characters that make it to the big screen are the target of a punchline or token characters. The film industry must embrace new and inclusive stories if it wants to remain competitive and relevant.”

- And we couldn't agree more with Kate.


What is your favorite LGBTQ-friendly TV show of 2016?


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