February is LGBT History Month here in the UK and given the current climate in regards to diversity and the film industry, it is quite an apt time to be discussing the subject and how the LGBT community are represented within the film and TV industry. As the Oscars have drawn the issue of racial discrimination to the forefront of the film industry, a report by GLAAD highlighted that LGBT representation may be even further behind the times than racial representation in terms of the TV industry.
The report showed that in the coming year (2015-2016) only 4% of regular characters appearing on broadcast TV would identify as LGBT, with an additional 35 LGB characters. On broadcast TV only three recurring transgender characters were noted, with streaming TV providing 4. Whilst the report did display an improvement in LGBT representation within the TV industry, it found that the community is highly under represented. The full report can be found here.
In addition to this report GLAAD also published their 2015 Studio Responsibility Index which looks at LGBT representation with the film industry in 2014/2015. This was achieved by looking at 7 major studios (20th Century Fox, Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers) and 4 subsidiary studios. GLAAD found that out of the films released by the studios they focused on, 17.5% contained characters that identified as LGBT. Out of those, 65% were gay males. 35% were Bisexual, 10% were lesbian and 0% were transgender. The full report can be seen here.
This is of concern because many individuals, especially those in isolated environments, have some reliance on film and TV to provide them with hope and realistic expectations of what life as an LGBT individual entails. There is no denying the power of a film to inspire, to bring an individual strength and courage to admit and embrace who or what they are. If there are few LGBT characters within major studio film releases, or if the characters are heavily stereotyped, then where are people going to find their inspiration? And how can true equality be achieved until there is a fair and realistic representation of the LGBT community within mainstream media? Recently we have seen films such as Carol, 52 Tuesdays and Appropriate Behaviour yet only Carol had a big studio release.
In light of these findings and LGBT History Month a number of us here at Movie Marker will be retrospectively reviewing films that focus on LGBT characters and storylines and how they inspired, brought hope and courage and what they mean to us or those around us. So, over the coming week keep an eye out for our LGBT History Month Reviews.