GLAAD: Cable Getting Even Worse for Gays

Representation of gays, lesbians grows on broadcast side, but drops on mainstream cable.

Last Updated: October 1, 2009 @ 1:56 PM

The number of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters on scripted broadcast television continues to rise steadily in the 2009-10 season, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s 14th annual report on "Where We Are on TV?"

The news is only good on the broadcast side, however, where the report says 18 LGBT characters will account for 3 percent of scripted series regulars in the 2009-10 schedule — up from 1.3 percent in 2006, 1.1 percent in 2007 and 2.6 percent in 2008.

On mainstream cable TV networks, however, the number of scripted LGBT series regulars continues to fall — from 40 in 2007, to 32 in 2008, to only 25 this year.

Partially offsetting the decline in cable is the growth of networks targeting LBGT viewers, including Logo and here!, the report said. When programming on those channels is included, the tally gains an additional 27 LGBT characters.

GLAAD’s report relied on the organization’s research as well as information provided by broadcast networks ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW. The study reviewed 79 scripted comedies and dramas announced to air this season, and found 18 LGBT characters among the total of 600 series regulars.

ABC continues to lead the broadcast networks in LGBT representation, with eight out of 168 series regular characters, or 5%. That’s the highest number and percentage of LGBT characters of any network for this2009-10 season.

ABC also has the only series-regular character, Dr. Arizona Robbins on "Grey’s Anatomy."

Fox has boosted its LGBT representation from zero two years ago to four out of its 105 series regulars, or 4 percent.

NBC has three series-regular LGBT characters (3 percent) out of a total of 126. The CW is showing gradual improvement with two LGBT series regular characters out of 69 (3 percent).

CBS, however, has no LGBT characters among its 132 series-regular characters this season.

“It is promising to see not only an increase in the quantity of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender television characters but that storylines about the LGBT community are becoming more reflective of current issues impacting our lives,” said GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios in a statement.

In addition to its analysis of LBGT representation, this is the fifth year the GLAAD report has analyzed the race, gender and ethnicity of all of the series regular characters expected to appear on the broadcast networks’ fall shows.

Male characters continue to outweigh female characters 57 percent (345) to 43 percent (255). Also, 77 percent (466) of all series regular characters are white, down 2 percent from last year. African American representation remains at 11 percent (67) while Latino representation dropped to 5 percent (27). GLAAD counted 23 Asian Pacific Islander characters (4 percent), four more than last season.

GLAAD also examines LGBT storylines over the course of the season. In its "Network Responsibility Index," to be released after the May 2010 sweeps, GLAAD grades the networks on overall LGBT impressions.

Complete results of GLAAD’s "Where We Are on TV" report can be accessed here.