GLAAD's Where We Are on TV Report: Highest Percentage Ever of LGBT Characters on Broadcast TV

GLAAD released its annual Where We Are on TV report; a comprehensive review of scripted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) primetime characters in the upcoming 2012-2013 television season.  Click here to see the full report and a slideshow of TV’s LGBT characters.

GLAAD found that after a decrease last year, the number of regular LGBT characters on broadcast networks has risen to the highest level ever recorded, while the LGBT character count also increased on cable television.

The Where We Are on TV report also calculates the ethnic and racial diversity of all scripted regular characters on primetime broadcast television and found an increase in the number of Black characters while Latino/a representations declined.

GLAAD's study reviewed 97 scripted television programs scheduled to air this upcoming season on the broadcasts networks, and counted a total of 701 series regular characters. Of those 701 regular characters, 31 are LGBT. GLAAD counted an additional 19 recurring characters.

  • ABC has the highest amount with 5.2% (10 out of 194) of their regular characters identifying as LGBT. 
  • After leading last year, Fox is in second with six LGBT characters out of 118 total series regulars (5.1%), which includes the only transgender character on network television - Unique on Glee.  The CW will feature four regular LGBT characters out of 81 total (4.9%), while NBC will feature seven regular LGBT characters out of 166 (4.2%). 
  • CBS also improved and will feature four LGBT characters out of 142 series regulars (2.8%), up from 0.7% last year.  This improvement and the addition of a gay lead character demonstrate an authentic and conscious effort by CBS to improve its diversity.

On mainstream cable networks, the number of announced LGBT series regular characters has increased to 35, plus 26 recurring characters resulting in a total of 61 LGBT characters.

  • This year Showtime features the greatest number of LGBT characters on cable with 12; seven of which are series regulars.
  • Also making significant contributions to the count are HBO (9 characters), FX (8), Adult Swim (5) and ABC Family, MTV, Syfy, and TeenNick (with 4 characters each).
  • Once again this year True Blood is the most inclusive show on cable television with six gay, lesbian or bisexual characters.
  • TeenNick is the only show on cable television to include a regular transgender character - Adam on Degrassi.

GLAAD also analyzed the race/ethnicity and gender demographics of all 701 series regular characters expected to appear on primetime broadcast television in the upcoming season. Male characters continue to outweigh female characters 55.5% (389) to 44.5% (312) in overall numbers, while 78% (547) of all series regular characters are white. Compared to last year, African American representation has increased from 9.9% to 12% (84) while Latino/a representation has decreased from 5.6% to 4.1% (29). There were 33 Asian-Pacific Islander characters (4.7%) which is similar to last year’s figure. This also marks the third year in a row that GLAAD counted people with disabilities (PWD), who will make up just four of all regular characters (0.6%).

Of the 31 announced LGBT regular characters in the 2012-2013 primetime broadcast season, 11 are people of color (35.5%), and one will be a PWD. In one area that has seen great improvement, GLAAD counted seven regular or recurring Black LGBT characters on broadcast television, while last year we counted none at all.

For the first time, GLAAD has asked other media advocacy groups to weigh in on our findings, and provide additional insight into why diversity on television is so important to many different communities in the United States.  This year’s report contains additional perspectives from the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the Asian-Pacific Media Coalition, SAG-AFTRA, and Missrepresentation.org.

This research serves as a benchmark for GLAAD's advocacy efforts which call for fair, accurate and diverse LGBT representations across media platforms. The characters in the Where We Are on TV report will later be reviewed for GLAAD's Network Responsibility Index (NRI), released annually each summer, which grades networks on overall LGBT impressions.

Check out the full report and our character slideshow here.  Which characters are your favorites?  Tell us in the comments.

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As a Major League Baseball umpire for the past 29 seasons, Dale Scott has worked three World Series, three All-Star Games, two no-hitters and numerous playoff games. He is also the first out active male official in the MLB, NBA, NHL, or NFL, and the first Major League Baseball umpire to publicly say he is gay while active.