Cable TV and FX's Pose Lead in LGBTQ Representation
As Transgender Awareness Month kicks off, the recent release of GLAAD's annual "Where We Are on TV" report gives audiences all the more reason to celebrate the transgender community, LGBTQ people and diversity across the spectrum. According to the report, TV is airing more LGBTQ stories than ever before, with the number of LGBTQ characters at its highest in several categories across all platforms—cable, broadcast, and streaming. Cable led the way ahead of broadcast TV and streaming platforms with 208 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters throughout its programming, up from 173 last year.
For more than two decades, GLAAD has monitored and reported on the number of LGBTQ characters on TV, and began releasing the "Where We Are on TV" survey in 2005 to help expand the representation of the LGBTQ community in the programming that viewers watch.
"This year's Where We Are on TV report has shown important progress towards a media landscape that is LGBTQ-inclusive and portrays the community in a fair and accurate way," said Megan Townsend, GLAAD Director of Entertainment Research.
Particularly noteworthy was that the number of transgender characters hit 26 this year, up from 17. The study pointed out FX's drama, Pose [along with CW's Supergirl], as a breakthrough show for the transgender community. GLAAD identified Pose as featuring the highest number of transgender series regulars aired on a U.S. TV series. "This is all part of a welcome increase in television telling groundbreaking stories featuring characters whose identities have long been left off screen," said Townsend.
The addition of Pose sent FX to the top of the leaderboard of cable networks showing the most LGBTQ characters, at 23. Freeform (which has come out on top over the past couple of years), Showtime and TNT followed in second with 21 characters. Freeform's Shadowhunters broke barriers last year when one of the show's characters came out as asexual. The show will air its final season next year. Audiences also have new seasons to look forward to of several standout shows that follow LGBTQ characters and storylines, including: Showtime's Billions—which features one of the most prominent non-binary characters on TV, according to last year's report—AMC's Preacher, and Disney's Andi Mack—the first time the Disney Channel has had a main character come out as gay. Ovation will also air its final season of Versailles, starring a gay prince.
"It is no longer enough just to have an LGBTQ character present to win LGBTQ audience's attention, there needs to be nuance and depth to their story and they should reflect the full diversity of our community," writes GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis.
The cable industry prides itself on infusing diverse storylines on its myriad of shows, and including people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientation, gender identities and cultures that reflect the gamut of different faces and voices that make up America's viewership. Every year, TV gets a little closer to this goal as networks, content creators, producers and showrunners work towards portraying the real-life stories, characters, and issues of the LGBTQ community.