Telenovelas may be entertaining, but if a new GLAAD report is any indication, those over-the-top Spanish-language soap operas aren’t doing a very good job of representing the experience of the LGBTQ community.
GLAAD, the media advocacy group, on Thursday issued “Nearly Invisible,” a report finding that Spanish-language scripted TV underrepresented gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters during the period from July 2015 through June 2016. When such characters were included, the stories often leaned on stereotypes or featured magical “conversions,” in which gay characters suddenly became straight after a life-altering heterosexual experience.
Of the 516 characters considered in the study, just 3 percent were lesbian, gay or bisexual, and only one was transgender.
The report marks GLAAD’s first-ever look at Spanish-language media, which serve an estimated 50 million viewers in the U.S. The group looked at programming on MundoMax, Univision and Telemundo; such popular telenovelas as “La Guerrera” and “Avenida Brasil” were among the shows considered.
“‘Nearly Invisible’ is a critical step in identifying the current climate for LGBTQ representation in Spanish-language programming,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO, wrote in a statement. “GLAAD will continue to work with Spanish and English-language media to increase the number and quality of stories that accelerate acceptance.”
While the overall report was negative, some shows were singled out for praise. The study noted the positive depiction of a gay relationship in “Celia” (pictured), a Telemundo series about the life of singer Celia Cruz.
GLAAD already issues regular reports examining depictions of the LGBTQ community on English-language network TV.