Never Satisfied: Now GLAAD Wants 10% Of Characters On TV To Be LGBT

"The next step is going to be a lot harder"

Senator Cory Booker speaks onstage at the 29th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Hilton Midtown on May 5, 2018 in New York City.
J. Merritt / Contributor / Getty Images

When will GLAAD ever be satisfied? Following a report showing that broadcast TV has a record number of LGBT characters, the formerly named Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is still saying Hollywood needs to do better.

Though the study released on Thursday showed that 8.8% of characters on TV are LGBT, a full 4 points above the 4.5% of LGBT individuals in the U.S. population, GLAAD demands that Hollywood up that number to as high as 10% by 2020.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis met with several industry insiders to discuss ways for networks to further increase LGBT representation on screen even though numbers show they are, in fact, quite overrepresented.

The event, held at United Talent Agency's headquarters in Beverly Hills, featured people like Greg Berlanti (executive producer of "Arrow" and "The Flash") and even the senior VP product leadership at Nielsen, Brian Fuhrer, who announced the company's plan to partner with GLAAD to "expand Nielsen's national survey to include same-gender couples."

"The next step is going to be a lot harder, to allow our [individual, uncoupled] panelists to self-identify," Fuhrer said. "While this is big news, I don’t want anyone to perceive that we’re stopping here."

GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis said that the partnership with Nielsen happened during the Trump administration because the 2020 census did not count LGBTQ households. “Since this current administration has taken power over, they’ve since erased us from the 2020 census, so we’ve had to build these workarounds,” Ellis said.

Ellis went on to hold Hollywood up as a bright, shining example to the rest of the world during the Trump-era and characterized the administration's recent policy of defining gender by genitalia given at birth as a "backlash" against their wonderful work.

"This is, I believe, a backlash to some of the movement we’ve had," Ellis said. "Right now, Hollywood is the bright light, and that’s amazing. … The key is that we see it move in that direction and it doesn’t stop here."

The current numbers of LGBT characters in the 2017-2018 season of television are the best GLAAD has ever seen in terms of diversity with a full 22% being black, 8% being Latin-American, and Asian Pacific Islanders setting a record number at 8%. The gender gap between LGBT characters has also narrowed, with women at 49.6%, up from last year's 44%. Men have consistently held a majority.

On prime-time cable shows, LGBTQ characters have increased a full 20%, from 173 to 208 characters. For streaming services like Netflix and Amazon, the presence of LGBTQ characters has increased by 72% since last year by nearly doubling its character count: 65 characters to 112.

While television enjoys GLAAD's approval, the movie studios do not. In fact, every major studio received failing grades from the organization earlier this year on LGBT representation. Obviously, it all has to do with business. Unlike television, which goes straight into people's homes, filmmakers have to actually motivate people to drive to the movie theaters and buy a ticket. If audiences are alienated, they will probably not show up, hence why the studios receive failing grades on LGBT representation.

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