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There are now more LGBT characters on TV than ever before

Josh Jackman November 10, 2017
(The CW)

Alex and Maggie, before the split (The CW)

There are more LGBT characters on TV than ever before, according to new research.

From streaming favourites Grace & Frankie and Riverdale to network hits like Supergirl, Empire and Shadowhunters, non-heterosexual, non-cisgender parts are at record levels.

Campaign group GLAAD revealed that there were 329 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters across all broadcast, cable and streaming TV platforms over the past year.

(Netflix)

On main US channels, LGBT parts made up 6.5% of all characters – the highest percentage in 22 years of GLAAD tracking.

This also included the first asexual and non-binary characters, the group said.

There’s still progress to be made, of course.

Over the past two years, TV programmes have killed off more lesbian and bisexual women than ever before, with a figure of 62 victims showing the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope is still alive.

But steps have been taken, for instance in Netflix’s dark comedy Bojack Horseman, whose new season saw lovable, surprisingly insightful sidekick Todd Chavez come out as asexual.

(Netflix)
(Netflix)

Freeform’s supernatural show Shadowhunters also saw an asexual character, Raphael Santiago, come out this season, following the canon established in the original books.

Fans have also watched as multiple programmes embraced the idea of having non-binary characters.

Showtime’s Billions introduced non-binary character Taylor, played by Asia Kate Dillon, who calmly explained that their pronouns to widespread acceptance.

Dillon said at the time: “When I was growing up, if there had been someone like Taylor on TV, it would have meant something to me.”

(Showtime)

On Netflix, Degrassi: The Next Class, Yael (Jamie Bloch) told her friend Lola (Amanda Arcuri) that she didn’t feel like a girl or a boy, but “in-between”.

Lola responded wonderfully, telling her she could be genderfluid or genderqueer and explaining these concepts.

The reboot of Heathers, on Spike TV, will feature a lesbian Heather and a genderqueer character who goes by the name Heath.

GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis welcomed the findings, saying that this kind of positive trend was particularly necessary in the current political climate.

“At a time when the Trump administration is trying to render LGBTQ people invisible, representing LGBTQ people in all of our diversity in scripted TV programs is an essential counterbalance that gives LGBTQ people stories to relate to,” she said.

More: asia kate dillon, billions, bojack horseman, Degrassi: The Next Class, Empire, entertainment, Gay, gender, GLAAD, Grace & Frankie, heathers, lesbian, netflix, non-binary, Riverdale, shadowhunters, supergirl, Television, Trans, Transgender, US

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