By Lauren Rearick
Even with Hollywood’s recent attempts to create television and film that’s more inclusive of LGBTQ+ people, a new report from GLAAD indicates that the film industry still has a long way to go when it comes to representation.
On Thursday, May 23, GLAAD released its Studio Responsibility Report, an annual investigation that examines representation of LGBTQ+ characters in major studio films. According to this year’s report, zero of the 110 major studio films released in 2018 featured a transgender character. For the report, major studios included 20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures (which is owned by Viacom, MTV News’s parent company), Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros., as well as films released by four subsidiaries of these major studios.
Responding to the lack of transgender characters, GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis, Megan Townsend, called for change. “The studios should recognize the power of LGBTQ moviegoers and the desire for stories that reflect ourselves, and create and market more films for this audience who is ready to buy tickets,” she said in a statement.
This is the second year in a row that GLAAD observed a lack of transgender characters, but its report did note an increase in the amount of gay and lesbian characters in major studio films. In 2017, only 12.8 percent of the major studio films GLAAD surveyed featured characters that identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or queer. This year, that number increased to 18.2 percent, with GLAAD directly pointing to the success of films including Love, Simon, Deadpool 2, and Blockers.
Of the 45 LGBTQ+ characters included in films this year, 11 were on screen for more than ten minutes; those characters appeared in a total of 10 of the 110 films GLAAD surveyed. 26 characters were on-screen for less than three minutes, and 16 were on-screen for less than a minute.
Animated and family television series continue to increase their representation of LGBTQ+ characters, including a recent same-sex wedding that was featured on Arthur, but GLAAD reports that movies are not doing the same. For the first time in five years, the report did not find a single animated or family film that was inclusive of LGBTQ characters.
GLAAD is also calling on Hollywood to do more, particularly when it comes to LGBTQ+ characters of color. “The full diversity of the LGBTQ community must be better reflected in wide-release film,” the organization tweeted. “In 2018, 42 percent of the LGBTQ characters we counted were people of color. This is a fifteen-percentage point decrease from 2017.”
In a statement, Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President and CEO, backed the need for a more inclusive film industry. “While the film industry should include more stories of LGBTQ people of color and transgender people, studios are finally addressing the calls from LGBTQ people and allies around the world who want to see more diversity in films,” she noted.
Following the conclusion of its report, GLAAD is calling on Hollywood to be more inclusive by 2021, and asked that the studios ensure that 20 percent of their annual releases be LGBTQ+ inclusive. Viewers will have to wait and see whether the film industry meets that goal, but the report indicates that future LGBTQ+-inclusive films including Nimona, Lumberjanes, and Goldie Vance are slated for release in the coming years.