LGBTQ Characters on TV Hit Record High Numbers, But ‘Bury Your Gays’ Trend Persists

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TV is becoming more diverse and more reflective of the real world, though there’s more to it than numbers, according to a new study.

GLAAD has published its annual “Where We Are on TV” diversity survey, and found the highest percentage of LGBTQ regular characters on broadcast TV in the 12-year history of the organization’s tracking.

However, the organization also cautioned that how those characters are portrayed is just as important as numbers, citing over 25 lesbian and bisexual female-identifying characters who were killed off in storylines this season, perpetuating the harmful “bury your gays” trope.

“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,” GLAAD President & CEO Sarah Kate Ellis 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.”

The report found 4.8 percent of regular characters on broadcast television identified as LGBTQ, while the number of broadcast TV’s black series regulars, at 20 percent, was also a historical high. Regular characters with disabilities, making up  1.7 percent, was also a record.

The number of transgender regular and recurring characters has more than doubled since last year, from 7 on all platforms to 16 this year. Last year, there were no trans characters counted on broadcast, while CBS’ “Doubt” turned that around, with Laverne Cox becoming the first trans actress to play a trans series regular character on broadcast TV.

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