New Report: Lesbian TV Characters at a Record-Breaking High Number

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Lesbian representation on TV is at all-time high. In a report released February 17, LGBTQ+ media nonprofit GLAAD said that lesbian characters on TV shows represented the majority of LGBTQ+ characters for the first time ever — 40 percent. This gain overtaking gay men as the leading category was fueled by the total number of lesbian characters growing by six percentage points from the previous season.

GLAAD counted 56 total lesbian regular or recurring characters on primetime scripted cable original shows premiering between June 1, 2021 and May 31, 2022, up from 22 characters in the 2020-2021 season.

Thirty-five percent of 138 regular and recurring LGBTQ+ characters are gay, 32 percent are transgender, 19 percent are bisexual or pansexual, 13 percent are non-binary who do not identify as transgender, and zero are asexual.

Megan Townsend, GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis, said in the report that “it is disheartening to see television continue to fall short when it comes to telling authentic and meaningful experiences of bisexual+ people. We know that bi+ people make up the majority of the community and we are a quickly growing group, yet entertainment is slow to reflect that change in both numbers and in a lack of leading bi+ characters.”

LGBTQ+ characters make up 11.9 percent of all regular characters scheduled to appear on scripted broadcast primetime programming in the 2021-2022 season, an increase from last season. According to a Gallup poll released on the same day as GLAAD’s report, 7.1 percent of the U.S. population is LGBTQ+.

The report noted that new series introducing lesbian characters in the 2021-2022 season include Queens, NCIS: Hawai’i, Pivoting, Our Kind of People, and Law & Order: Organized Crime. New bi characters this season can be found on Ordinary Joe, Naomi, Single Drunk Female, The Wheel of Time, Loki, Hacks, Sort Of, And Just Like That, Saved by the Bell, and Love, Victor.

Racial diversity among LGBTQ+ TV characters is also at a record high, up by four percentage point from last season. The report counts 50 percent of LGBTQ+ characters on television as people of color. Twenty-five percent of all LGBTQ+ TV  characters are Black, also a record high.

We’re excited to see all of these 56 lesbian characters this season! With The L Word: Generation Q renewed for a third season, 2022 is looking up. Read about 10 queer characters we’ll be watching this year.

 

 

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Sarah Prager
Sarah Prager
Sarah Prager is a writer living in Massachusetts with her wife and their two children. She is the author of the award-winning Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World and Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, HuffPost, Bustle, JSTOR Daily, and GO Magazine, among others. www.sarahprager.com.