The number of gay characters on network television this season is down a little from last year, but an annual report on the subject is still somewhat upbeat.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report says that 2.9 percent of regular characters on scripted network shows in 2011-12 are gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual. That’s down a bit from last year’s figure (3.9 percent) but still well ahead of where the networks were four years ago, when barely 1 percent of characters on network TV were gay.
“While the number of LGBT characters is down, some of the most popular shows with critics and viewers such as ‘Glee,’ ‘True Blood’ and ‘The Good Wife’ weave storylines about gay and lesbian characters into the fabric of the show,” says GLAAD’s acting president, Mike Thompson. “… Americans expect to see the diversity of our country represented in their favorite programs and that includes gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.”
FOX is the most inclusive network, according to the GLAAD study, with LGBT characters representing about 7 percent of the population on its scripted series. “Glee” has several prominent gay roles, and “Bones” and several of the network’s animated comedies feature LGBT characters as well.
GLAAD counted 19 gay characters among the 647 series regulars on broadcast series set to air in 2011-12 (although that number could change a little as details about characters are revealed), along with an additional 14 recurring LGBT characters.
On “mainstream” cable networks (not including channels like Logo whose focus is already on the LGBT community), GLAAD found 28 regular LGBT characters, down from 35 in last year’s study. The number of recurring characters rose, however, so the total of 54 is in line with 53 last year.
You can see the full report at GLAAD’s site.