GLAAD Finds Gays Are Underrepresented But Ready For Our Close-Ups In New Film Study

weekendIn its first ever study of LGBT representation on film,  GLAAD finds the major studios are really slipping on their gay pimpin’. According to their Studio Responsibility Index, only 14 of the 101 releases from major studios contained lesbian, gay or bisexual characters, with nary a transgender representation in sight.

“As a major influence in American culture and one of our nation’s largest media exports abroad, the lack of LGBT characters in big-budget films needs to change,” said GLAAD’s Wilson Cruz. “Until LGBT characters are depicted in these films in a substantial way with more regularity, there will remain the appearance of LGBT bias on the studios’ part. Whether it’s an action hero or a supporting character, moviegoers should be able to see LGBT people as integral players in the stories told by leading Hollywood studios.”

Additional findings from the study include:

– More than half of those inclusive films (55.6%) featured gay male characters, while another 33% featured lesbian characters and 11% contained bisexual characters. Male characters represented 63% of LGBT images on screen, while female characters made up just 37%

– Of the 31 different characters counted (some of whom were onscreen for no more than a few seconds), 26 were white (83.9%), four were Black/African-American (12.9%) and one was Latino (3.2%). There were no Asian-Pacific Islander or recognizably multi-racial LGBT characters counted.

– The most common place to find LGBT characters in the major studios’ 2012 releases was in comedies, where nine of the 24 comedies released (37.5%) were inclusive. By comparison, 34 genre films (action, sci-fi, fantasy, etc.) made up the majority of the 2012 releases, though only three (8.8%) of those included any LGBT characters. Additionally, only one of 21 dramas (4.7%) and one of four documentaries (25%) were inclusive, while there were no LGBT characters in any animated or family-oriented films from the ‘Big Six.’

The study comes on the heels of an IndieWire article on the death of the mainstream gay movie. Compared to the 90s, when “48 films with significant LGBT characters grossed over $1 million at the box office,” the previous decade had only 20 films to cross that mark; Pedro Almodóvar’s I’m So Excited is only the fifth film since 2010 to do so.

The article offers a number of reasons for the steep decline, but the most likely is the decline of the movie industry itself, coupled with the subsequent rise of television, which has a far better track record for LGBT portrayals, as noted by GLAAD’s annual “Where We Are on TV” report.

The actual representation of LGBT characters on film, the few that are remaining, has also been addressed by the SRI’s “Vito Russo Test” — named after GLAAD co-founder and author of the seminal cinematic tome, The Celluloid Closet. The test includes criteria that determine the quality of an LGBT character’s representation, for instance: “the character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Only 6 of the 14 studio films featuring LGB characters actually passed the Vito Russo Test, including Cloud Atlas, Pitch Perfect, Rock of Ages and The Five Year Engagement.

You can read the full GLAAD 2013 Studio Responsibility Index here.

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  • Dev.C

    I understand Wilson’s frustration but he needs to wait for Hollywood to get that the next generation of young people will
    expect more inclusive characters. Hollywood doesn’t care unless it effects their bottom line and eventually their lack of LGBT characters will because of the more acceptance of people today.
    Big studios have treated gay themed movies as something you can only release every ten years and that can only be shown in a neutral zone, neither a negative nor positive light.
    Hollywood has pretty much created this distinction between idealistic heterosexual norms versus unidealistic homosexual abnormality, through out film history.
    The next generation is more influenced by social media and the internet which is much more socially broader than the world we see on the silver screen, so eventually they will have to catch up if they want, coming generations attention and money.

  • Lefty

    We’re a minority though, aren’t we? It seems reasonable that we’d find gay characters in only a minority of mainstream films. I’m uncomfortable with the idea of tokenism and just putting certain types in anything as a token inclusion.
    Though it’s all arbitrary, I guess.

  • balehead

    Actually 60 percent of Hollywood industry is gay…so who’s your enemy GLAAD?….

  • LaTeesha

    Further proof that we are drowning in a sea of heterosexuality.

    Given the popularity of reboots, I’d really like to see the 1982 film, “Making Love”, update. Would be very interesting to see how the characters approach the story line some 30 years later. Some things have improved while others have not.

  • Brian

    The gay men who work in Hollywood are who’res. Whether they’re the costume designer or the script writer, they are who’res. This means they are paid to enable female viewers who wish to have their egos furnished and their bodies flattered by an endless stream of movies where the male lead pines for them in completely heterosexual ways.

    If you want to blame someone, blame women.

  • Ferallove

    Thank you!!! Now that the gay films are getting much much better I know we are ready for more mainstream efforts. An films like Weekend and Shelter and A single man are proof. Can’t wait for some better representations of the community and the essence of our world being properly represented and not in a “stigma” or a “stereotypical” vision of who we are. I’m excited for the change coming.

  • Lefty

    @Brian: “If you want to blame someone, blame women.”

    That’s basically every post you’ve ever made on this site over the years in a nutshell, isn’t it, “Jason”?

  • RockinCrystal

    I don’t watch a whole lot of films, but I’ve noticed that there are quite a few gay characters on TV lately. Hopefully the films will catch up.

  • DarkZephyr

    @Lefty: A minority that is absolutely everywhere.

Comments are closed.