How Did MTV Get Such a Low ‘Gays On TV’ Score?


Thanks to characters like a line cook who’s addicted to vampire blood, HBO is getting the nod as the most gay-friendly network. Not near the top? CBS and NBC.

The annual Network Responsibility Index from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation looks at positive representations of GLBTs on the small screen. Not surprisingly, it gave ABC good marks for including gays on basically every show on the network: Brothers & Sisters, Ugly Betty, and Grey’s Anatomy. But on NBC, a network whose taste varies from The Office to I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here, the homos weren’t representing.

Interestingly, Fox got a boost from two characters on House and Bones — who are bisexual. Love our Bs, but whenever networks go bi, it always strikes us as a ratings stunt to generate interest from male audiences than anything else.

HBO, which earns a reported $1.2 billion a year in profit, obviously doesn’t have the same restrictions many networks have on playing to the lowest common denominator, since it generates much of its revenue from subscriber fees (as well as cable operator carrier fees). Same goes for Showtime, which also earned decent marks, thanks to plenty of gay action on shows like United States of Tara.


Our most interesting find among all the data? Lifetime, a network built for women and gay men, and MTV, a network built for young folks assumed to be more progressive than most, scored among the lowest of the ten cable networks analyzed. If it weren’t for the gays and trans on The Real World, we’d be stuck with a teen network running on fumes with The Hills — the most buzz-worthy show in recent memory that didn’t include a single queer.

(Download the full report here; PDF)

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  • terrwill

    That MTV has gotten anything less than A+++++++ is a tremendous wrong to the most gay friendly network. They have always included gays in all its programs many times showing gays in a perfectley normal light. Which is especially important to the gay youth out there. To bitchslap such a supportive network is a damm shame…………………….

  • TruthInReporting

    @Terrwill Don’t just make blanket remarks. Back your shit up. Give us some examples of gays in MTV’s programing.

  • wondermann

    HBO got high marks due to richness and depth of LGBT characters. MTV? Please, have you seen NEXT?

  • youcanthandlethetruth

    Homosexuals are such attention whores.

    Why should TV companies be interested in competing for a minority audience such as homosexuals, who supposedly constitute less than 10% of the population?

    And how can homosexuals continually bleat about their misfortunes when they receive such open pandering and special privileges?

    I don’t see any special awards for TV shows that strive to create “positive representations” of left-handed or red-headed people, the elderly, the handicapped, nor a 1,000 other categories of minority.

  • Jon B

    @TruthInReporting: MTV’s Real World was the first television show to include an openly gay, HIV+ cast member. Last season they had their first transexual cast member. Real World and Road Rules also generally have at least one gay cast member, and the station doesn’t shy away from showing just as much of that cast member’s love life as the other cast members’. Also, it always has random gay episodes of all of it’s innane dating shows like date my mom or that one with the bus.

    I think it’s crazier that Showtime didn’t have higher marks. I mean, sure they may not have gays represented in every show in their lineup right now, but honestly, they brought us QaF and The L Word. For those two alone they could run a miniseries produced by Westboro Baptist and still be at the very least gay neutral.

    @youcanthandlethetruth: Shut your face.

  • youcanthandlethetruth

    @Jon B: Jon that was a clumsy dodge.

    Why are you homosexuals so hostile and hateful?

    I thought you were always trying to convince the rest of us that you really aren’t all that different.

    Well apart from that one weird aspect of your behaviour.

  • TANK

    Are you hateful and hostile because you want a penis in your butt? Is that it? I think so.

  • youcanthandlethetruth

    @TANK: Thanks for your intelligent, well thought out response.

    You are a credit to homosexuals everywhere and do a great job of perpetuating their negative, hate-filled stereotype

  • TANK


    Why do you struggle with same sex fantasies? And I mean struggle in the bad way, not the good way.

  • Landon Bryce


    You have written many, many message here attacking gay people, then you ask, “Why are you homosexuals so hostile and hateful?”

    It’s like poking in the eye and the asking why they yell all the time.

    You’re silly.

  • youcanthandlethetruth

    @Landon Bryce: Landon I think it’s time homosexuals got to hear the other side of the story instead of wallowing in each other’s self-pity

  • Landon Bryce


    And you don’t think that gay people are cranky about being discriminated against because we’ve all heard from people like you, over and over? Do you really believe that there is a shortage of people shouting about how awful we are? Do you read the stories here, or just comment on them? We get it– lots of people hate us. You hate us. Fine. It’s just silly to attack us and then complain how hateful we are. We aren’t hateful in general: we just hate you. :)

  • youcanthandlethetruth

    @Landon Bryce: But there you go again wallowing in self-pity.

    I don’t hate you. Nor do I see why we need to give homosexuals special treatment.

    If we have to have awards I’d much prefer to see TV awards to people who truly deserve them.

    How about awards for nurses, first responders, care-givers, cancer victims, ex-military?

    You guys spend all your time bleating about how victimised you are instead of realising how fortunate you are.

  • terrwill

    TRUTH IN REPORTING: Damm didn’t anyone eva tell you to say “please”??????????? If you watch MTV you will see gays in each and every show, including shows such as “Room Raiders” “Parental Control” “Next” and the like. While it may not seem like a big deal, they do our community more good by showing teens and young adults in the same situations as their straight peers. The gay kid in the reddest of the red states can see that gay kids and teens can have normal relationships, and friends and are not stereotypical freaks and totally effiminate which is the typical we see on most shows. And you never know when they will put on a gay segment, those kids who may think of kicking the crap out of a gay kid may see that they can be perfectley normal as any other kid……..look and you will learn…………..

  • Wiliam


    Several points:

    We don’t ask for special treatment. Most of us just ask for the same treatment that everybody else gets. Wouldn’t you say that’s fair?

    We do hear the other side of the story, as you put it. We hear it all the time. The mainstream media IS the other side of the story to us.

    Regarding your comments on how television shows shouldn’t market to gays:

    The gay community represents a hefty chunk of finance that advertisers like to capitalise on.

    Red-heads and the left handed aren’t persecuted by wide swathes of society. The law does not state that red-heads cannot marry the person they love, or that the left handed can be fired from their jobs for being left handed, without the employer feeling any reprecussions. (I’ll concede the point regarding the elderly and the handicapped.)

    The latest records show the U.S. population at around 305 million. The homosexual population is estimated at between 2 and 4%. That equals, at minimum, 6,100,000 (six million and one hundred thousand) gay people. That’s 6,100,000 people who need role models in the media, the way that pretty much everyone else has role models in the media.

    No one is saying that nurses and fire fighters shouldn’t recieve awards. But this is a gay blog, we discuss gay issues here. It’s pretty much the point of this place.

  • youcanthandlethetruth

    @Wiliam: I wasn’t only talking about the homosexuals who happen to read this blog I was asking why the need for TV companies to pay special attention to such a tiny minority – between 2 & 4% according to you.

    Isn’t the message that homosexuals are really no different from anyone else- apart from who they choose to have sex with?

    If so why do you pretend that “The mainstream media IS the other side of the story to us”?

    Is there really nothing at all in the mainstream media that includes you?

    Or is it yet another example of homosexuals pleading for sympathy and wallowing in self-pity and assumed victimhood?

  • MackMike

    @youcanthandlethetruth: Actually, if you took the time to calculate all the portrayals of heterosexuals on television vs. all the portayals of homosexuals on television, you would find homosexuals to still be well under represented; in fact, you would be hard pressed to reach a 2% ration of homosexual portrayals to heterosexual portrayals. Furthermore, homosexuals likely make up well over 4% of the population, what with the number of homosexuals who still feel reluctant to be counted for one reason or another.

    One might take some time to dwell on why homosexuals feel victimized. It could be that feelings were bruised when hundreds of thousands were lost during a plague that hit their community first, while a sitting president nearly completed two terms in office without ever mentioning the name of the plague that has now wiped out, not only a significant portion of the homosexual population, but has led to the deaths of a frighteningly large portion of heterosexuals worldwide. Of course, when the disease sat festering in the homosexual community, rock Gods didn’t devote so much time and attention to its eradication, and a startling number of heterosexuals did not just sit unmoved by the stories of loss at the time (loss outside of death, the loss that sufferers experienced through loss of livelihood, home, partners, friends and family)–indeed, the tide of negative sentiment, the wave of discrimination against gays, the attitude that it was God’s punishment against gays, and gays alone, might have bruised a few feelings.

    We could go throughout history and find all sorts of things that might make gays feel a bit put upon. There was the holocaust of WWII, wherein gays, along side jews, were swept away, put through unspeakable human experimentation and torture, hung from trees by their hands, which were tied behind theirs backs (besides the insufferable pain of dislocation, most of those who were hung from these trees died from a prolonged suffocation, caused by their internal organs pressing against their chests, rendering them unable to breath deeply enough to sustain their lives….very much the same way that those who had be crucified ultimately died). When WWII ended, and those jews who survived the horrendous crimes against them, they were freed to seek out family who may have been similarly left behind, while homosexuals were taken from concentration camps and placed in prisons. 220,000 homosexuals were “relocated” and exterminated. (bet you’re doin’ a happy dance just about now, having read that).

    Throughout history, homosexuals have been casterated, beaten, tortured, and murdered. In the 12th century homosexuals were persecuted, tortured, castrated, and burned to death on a regular basis in the Christian Church and Christian-controlled States in Europe. The origins of the derogatory term “faggot” lie in the practices of the Inquisition, which bound those accused of homosexuality and piled them as fuel at the feet of those being burned for heresy or witchcraft, since homosexuals were not considered worthy of the dignity of being burned standing up.

    Until 1950, all but two states classified same-sex relations as a felony, with only murder, kidnapping and rape commanding heavier sentences. Until 1961, every state in the Union had such a law. Penalties for homosexual acts in other countries range from ten days’ imprisonment in Ethiopia, to a fine and beating in India, to life imprisonment in Guyana. Eight Islamic countries prescribe the death penalty for homosexuality. Incidentally, the death penalty for homosexual behavior was not repealed in England until 1861.

    Violence against the GLBT community has risen a striking 24% in the past 4 years, right here in the United States of American…the Land of the Free–for some. You might remember Mathew Shepherd, and maybe you’ve heard of Lawrence King, but these are only two crimes that were so shocking that they broke through the media due to the particular horror that haunted those crimes. You may not be aware of many more recent crimes against homosexuals, including the recent rape and beating of a lesbian. Gang raped for hours by men who called her dyke, punched and kicked her, she was left a bloodied pulp, naked on a cold isolated street, having been taught a thing or two by her heterosexual assailants.

    Of course, one could go on and on, reporting on the horrifying crimes committed against homosexuals, and never even reach beyond 2008, but you are an individual who is detached and fact driven. Here are a few more facts about you:

    You lack a strong sense of self, and aside from presenting yourself as someone who is logical and lives in his head, your really are very insecure about your lack of accomplishments and contributions to this world. You struggle for a way to make an impact, as well as a distraction from your daily failures–those string of days that go by, each one a reminder of another goal not met, another dream not lived.

    Because you are not out there in the world making a larger contribution to it, you spend more time than you should online, but you don’t spend that time online working to help an organization, such as Habitat for Humanity or the Christians’ Children’s Network. You don’t devote your spare time to helping the homeless or animals who need rescue; no, you spend your time visiting a website that largely speaks to the gay community. It is there that you find a cause that seems to fill your flacid ego, that provides you with a purpose. On a gay website, where you are free to continue to be anonymous, thus not having to really “man” up and speak authentically to anyone about who you are and why you hold the opinions that you do, sadly you seem to foster a sense of self. Delluded, you seem to believe that you are granting a community of people a lost truth, a truth that never occured to them, a truth that they would never find if not for you. One by one, you will change them…small, too insignificant an individual to be anything but anonymous you will change the course of history by saving all those lost souls…feeble, lacking, unachieving, impotent, sad little you.

    Oh, how very glad we all are for your clarity and your truth, and how welcomed here you are, if for no other reason that you remind us of how weak and broken our foes are. Thank you for visiting.

  • youcanthandlethetruth

    @MackMike: Thanks for the essay.

    So what if heterosexuals get more “portrayals” than homosexuals on TV?

    Since when did TV companies and film studios have a duty to represent every minority exactly equally?

  • jason

    Why is it that women are almost always shown as bisexual and men as strictly gay? It’s a double standard, and not a very nice one. My view is that these depictions are being filtered through the decision-making process of sleazy straight guys. Thus, women as bi (“hot bi chick”), men as gay (gay and to-be-pitied).

    As for MTV, fuck it. MTV is a sleazy straight men’s organization. Its programming is designed to prop up the sleazy straight guy fantasy.

  • MackMike

    @youcanthandlethetruth: Interesting point. What responsibility does any studio or production company have? What responsibility or duty does any writer or artist have? They have choices, and they have chosen to evolve and depict life either as they hope it to be, or as it is. The GLBT community, like any other community (I was going to say “that fights intollerance,” but that isn’t necessary true) is interested in seeing positive portrayals. For quite some time, straight married men were depicted as utter dopes, incapable of making a pot of coffee. We heard all sorts of complaints about that. We hear constant complaints about how the Christian community is portrayed, and certainly you must be aware that the NAACP is interested in the representation of blacks in the media. Women are very invested in how they are portrayed, as the Jewish community is ever mindful of how they are represented. Production companies do not always meet the expectations of these various communities, and I suppose it can be argued that they haven’t a duty to do anything but make a profit from the form of entertainment they offer, but fortunately there are those who are not driven only by profit or controversy. There are those who wish to see a better world, a kinder society and a more generous and respectful people to contribute to it.

    Not everyone is like you, praise God.

  • Landon Bryce


    I think sexism and the idea of “hot bi chicks” has a lot to do with why women on tv are more likely to be bisexual than men. But I think it also has a lot to do with differences between how men and women function sexually. Since the 2005 study making strong biological claims that men are very unlikely to be bisexual (, gay men have been much less likely to claim to be bisexual. Women, unlike, men, do tend toward bisexuality, so it makes sense that they would continue to appear. In other words, there are a lot fewer bisexual men than there are bisexual women in real life. It makes sense for TV to reflect this.

  • jason

    Landon Bryce,

    The notion that female bisexuality is more prevalent than male bisexuality is poppycock put out by the porn industry. It’s also put out by sleazy straight guys and their female enablers. It has nothing to do with biological reality.

    Biologically, men are more sexual than women. Therefore, it naturally follows that men are more bisexual too.

    Now, if you’re talking about using your sexuality as a marketing ploy, yes, I agree that women do this much more than men. Women, therefore, are more likely to use their so-called bisexuality as a marketing ploy, to claim to be bisexual for the purpose of making money or getting attention. Therefore, it’s out there far more than male bisexuality.

    Don’t confuse marketing with biological reality. Even the recent surveys reflect marketing rather than fact. The NY Times article you cite is garbage that was heavily influenced by porn, an industry with a well-known bisexual double standard built around marketing.

  • jason

    One reason why there are so few bisexual men on TV is that the liberal entertainment industry is afraid of bisexuality in men. Bisexuality, by definitiion, brings the sexual interaction to the mainstream. It can’t be confined in the way that “gay” can be. I’ve found that liberals are far more comfortable with female bisexuality, and hence its mainstreaming, than with male bisexuality.

    There is definitely a liberal fear of the concept of the sexually versatile male.

  • Landon Bryce


    I think the methodology of that study is as good as the methodology on sexuality gets, which is not very good. It should probably be taken with a grain of salt, but I think it has had an influence. Certainly, I know there are bisexual men, and certainly I know that bisexual men are much less common then bisexual women. But we might disagree about a man who identifies as straight and who has primary romantic relationships with women but also enjoys having sex with men. I would say that he is straight. If you would say he is bisexual, then, by that definition, I would say there are many more bisexual men than women. I would also say that I am often attracted to bisexual men, or gay men who, like me, sometimes enjoy having sex with women. Or straight men who sometimes have sex with gay men like me.

    Many, many gay men used to identify as bisexual, and I think they are less likely to do so now, both because of increased acceptance of gay people and because of increased skepticism based on the 2005 study. This, I think, creates the false impression that there are fewer bisexual men around, when in fact there are just fewer gay men who claim to be bisexual. Case in point: The first season of The Real World featured a bisexual cast member: Norm Korpi, who, I think is pretty much gay. That kind of bisexual male is not on TV anymore because he doesn’t exist anymore.

    What you do see, more and more, is acceptance that gay men sometimes have sex with women and straight men sometimes have sex with men. You may be seeing fewer bisexual characters, but the bromance phenomenon allows for an eroticism between straight men that has been previously been completely forbidden in mainstream culture.

    Neither gay men claiming to be bi or straight guys acknowledging that dudes can be hot is bisexuality. Both, however, affect the visibility and viability of gay men. Frankly, I’ve assumed it’s easier to be a bisexual man today than in the past, mostly because I’ve assumed it’s more fun to be lumped in with Brody Jenner than with Elton John. Maybe I’m wrong.

  • Rick

    “Frankly, I’ve assumed it’s easier to be a bisexual man today than in the past, mostly because I’ve assumed it’s more fun to be lumped in with Brody Jenner than with Elton John. Maybe I’m wrong.”

    You’re not wrong. You’re 100% correct.

Comments are closed.