In its report released Thursday, the advocacy organization said that 43 of the 895 characters (4.8 percent) it counted were LGBTQ, including 28 recurring characters—which is the highest percentage GLAAD has ever noted.
“While it is heartening to see progress being made in LGBTQ representation on television, it’s important to remember that numbers are only part of the story, and we must continue the push for more diverse and intricate portrayals of the LGBTQ community,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, said in a statement. “GLAAD will continue to work with Hollywood to tell nuanced LGBTQ stories that accelerate acceptance—and hold the networks, streaming services, and content creators accountable for the images and storylines they present.”
On a more somber note, over 25 “lesbian and bisexual female-identifying characters” died on scripted series since the beginning of 2016. According to GLAAD, such storylines “continue a decades-long trend of killing LGBTQ characters—often solely to further a straight, cisgender character’s plotline—which sends a dangerous message to audiences that LGBTQ people are secondary and disposable. It is important that creators do not reinvigorate harmful tropes, which exploit an already marginalized community.”
The five broadcast networks GLAAD surveyed were ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and the CW, and the advocacy group also counted series appearing on Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. This is the 21st year GLAAD has surveyed the TV landscape to count LGBTQ characters.