LGBTQ media watchdog GLAAD released its eighth annual Studio Responsibility Index yesterday (July 16), which covers the representation of LGBTQ characters in films released by major movie studios last year. While the organization found an uptick in white gay male characters, representation of lesbian and bisexual characters, as well as LGBTQ characters of color, has decreased.
The report analyzed 118 films released in 2019 from eight studios: Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, STX Films, United Artists Releasing, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Of the 118, 22—or 18.6 percent—included LGBTQ characters, a small increase from 18.2 percent in 2018 and the highest percentage found in the eight-year history of the report, for a total of 50 characters.
However, most of these characters didn’t receive much screen time. Only nine of the 22 LGBTQ films gave their LGBTQ characters more than ten minutes of screen time, 28 out of the 50 LGBTQ characters had less than three minutes, and 21 out of 50 had less than a minute.
“Film has the power to educate, enlighten, and entertain audiences around the world,, and, in today’s divisive political and cultural climate, we must prioritize telling LGBTQ stories and the stories of all marginalized people,” said GLAAD CEO and president Sarah Kate Ellis. “Despite seeing a record high percentage of LGBTQ-inclusive films this year, the industry still has a long way to go in terms of fairly and accurately representing the LGBTQ community.”
Of the 22 LGBTQ-inclusive films, 15—or 68 percent—featured gay male characters, up from 55 percent in 2018. However, only eight films (or 36 percent) included lesbian characters, down from 55 percent in 2018, and three films (or 14 percent) included bisexual characters, down from 15 percent in 2018. For the third consecutive year, there were no trans or non-binary characters in any of the 118 films.
There was a significant decrease in non-white LGBTQ characters last year, as well. Only 34 percent of all queer characters were characters of color, down from 42 percent in 2018 and 57 percent in 2017.
“If film studios want to stay relevant to today’s audiences and compete in an industry that is emphasizing diversity and inclusion,” Ellis continued, “then they must urgently reverse course on the diminishing representation of LGBTQ women and people of color, as well as the complete absence of trans people.”