If you watch TV, you’ve probably noticed more and more gay and lesbian couples as major characters in television shows. While a recent report from GLAAD states there are more queer characters in primetime than ever before, they are predominantly white men. Women, trans people and people of color are still underrepresented on Television, especially if you watch only the national broadcasting channels or basic cable. You’ll find much more diversity and inclusion on Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services.
It’s important to have more LGBTQ characters on TV to reflect the reality of American demographics. Estimates range between 3.5% and upwards of 20% of Americans identify as gay, lesbian, transgender, or bisexual. On screen representation is a fraction of that number at 0.4% of all characters. It’s even worse in the theaters.
This past year the movie Love, Simon was released in theaters. It is the story of a young man who is being blackmailed into coming out. It’s based on the book Simon Vs. The Home Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertelli. The movie was a major release, not just to be found at indie theaters, you could catch Love, Simon at any multiplex for weeks when it was released. There are several other movies with gay characters, and even some with main characters who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans, but it might be difficult to find the movie in your neighborhood if you life in Wyoming, South Dakota or any other rural area.
If you’re a tween or teen who is gay, lesbian, bizexual or trans you might feel pressure to remain in the closet because you believe there aren’t enough people with whom you can identify. If you’re the parent of a child who has come out, it can be comforting to see the representation of LGBTQ characters and even educational. Straight or gay or bi or trans, we can all benefit by learning more about that which we see and think of as “other”.
As Pride month continues, it’s important for television and the film industry to invest more to represent the LGBTQ community in film and TV.