LGBTQ representation Nearly Invisible in U.S. Spanish-language media, GLAAD report shows

Inaugural Spanish-language report analyzes primetime television
November 16, 2016

Seth Adam
Vice President of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8018

Matt Goodman
Associate Director of Communications, GLAAD
(646) 871-8028

New York – GLAAD, the world’s LGBTQ media advocacy organization, today released its first-ever Spanish-Language media report, Nearly Invisible. Nearly Invisible offers an analysis of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) characters in primetime Spanish-language scripted television airing in the United States between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

The report found that only 14 of the 516 characters examined were LGBTQ (3%), and only seven of those characters appeared in more than half of episodes aired. Of those, only one character was transgender. Further, only four LGBTQ characters were given plotlines that allowed them to explore a range of emotions, experiences, and actions that centered on their own lives. This is particularly noticeable within the tradition of scripted narratives on Spanish-language television centered on heroic and villainous characters that audiences are expected to root for and hate as they strive to meet their goals.

“Nearly Invisible is a critical step in identifying the current climate for LGBTQ representation in Spanish-language programming,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO. “With our nation’s Spanish-speaking and immigrant communities under attack like never before, it’s more important than ever for the media to do its part to portray their lives and experiences – including those who are LGBTQ – authentically and honestly. GLAAD will continue to work with Spanish and English-language media to increase the number and quality of stories that accelerate acceptance.”

Ten out of the 14 LGBTQ characters were gay men, two were bisexual women, one was a lesbian, one was a straight transgender woman. Additionally, no trans men, bisexual men, or LGBTQ persons with disabilities were portrayed.  Stereotypical representations of sexual orientation (particularly of gay men and bisexual women) and lack of representation of diversity in gender identity can add to stigma which contributes to disparities.

“The majority of scripted programming on Spanish-language television in the United States does not appropriately represent the LGBTQ Latinx experience,” said Monica Trasandes, Director of Spanish-Language Media at GLAAD. “Spanish language media content creators and executives have an opportunity to tell stories that connect with a rich, diverse and complex region and its diasporas by writing non-stereotypical characters and storylines that include people of various racial and ethnic ancestry, sexual orientations, gender identities, and disabilities. This report shows that Spanish-language media makers have not yet lived up to the promise of full inclusion but it is our hope they will soon. It’s good for business and it’s very good for our society.”

Of the 516 characters, only 15 (3%) were of African descent – with two of those 15 being gay men. Only one character (.19%) on all of primetime was of indigenous descent.

Nearly Invisible, comes on the heels of GLAAD’s Where We Are on TV report, which analyzes the overall diversity of primetime scripted series regulars on broadcast networks and assesses the number of LGBTQ characters on cable networks and streaming services for the 2016-2017 TV season. GLAAD uses the data from these reports to create a clearer picture of the stories and portrayals of LGBTQ people being presented by the media and encourage networks and studios alike to include more diverse LGBTQ representations that accelerate acceptance.