New Study Reveals Gay Actors Are Discriminated Against In Hollywood

straight-gay-actorsPortrayals of LGBT characters and the number of openly gay actors is at an all-time high, but a new study by the Screen Actors Guild, in conjunction with the Williams Institute, finds that homophobia still runs pretty rampant in Hollywood.

The study, Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Diversity in Entertainment, was conducted on nearly 5,692 members of SAG-AFTRA, 85% of whom identified as straight. Key findings include:

*A third of respondents felt that the entertainment industry was biased against LGBT performers; 34% of non-LGBT performers v. 53% of LGBT performers shared that view

*Over half of the LGB respondents had heard a director or fellow actor make anti-gay comments

*16% of LGBT respondents reported that they had experienced discrimination. Gay men were the most likely to report they have experienced some form of discrimination, with one in five reporting an experience. Bisexual actors were about half as likely to report discrimination as gay or lesbian actors.

*Gender nonconforming gay and bisexual men were more likely to experience discrimination, as were men who were out professionally

* 9% of lesbian or gay respondents said they had been turned down for a job because of their sexual orientation

* Despite getting similar types of roles to their heterosexual counterparts, LGB performers earned less on a daily average

*45% of lesbian or gay respondents “strongly believed” that producers and studio executives think LG performers are less marketable; 15% of heterosexual respondents felt the same.

*25% of LGB performers reported playing a gay character had an impact on their later work

*29% of heterosexual performers had never portrayed a lesbian or gay character; 58% of LGB and 33& of bisexual actors have

*14% of LG performers and 8% of bisexual performers have played a transgender role; only 3% of non-LGBT actors have played a transgender role.

*72% of openly lesbian or gay actors said being out had no effect on their careers

“We were pleased to see that our membership is overwhelmingly supportive of LGBT actors, and that many LGBT actors found benefits in coming out,” said Duncan Crabtree-Ireland, SAG-AFTRA’s Chief Administrative Officer and General Counsel. “Nonetheless, coming out remains a significant and consequential decision for many performers and we are committed to supporting our members in living honest and authentic personal and professional lives.”

For the full study, click here.

h/t: The Guardian

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  • Cam

    ANY other industry where so many people have come forward and said that there is blatant discrimination would have been investigated by now.

    Why is it that there continue to be multiple reports on the discrimination in Hollywood and yet they have never been investigated by the state for their employment practices?

    If agents and publicists are saying something like “Stay in the closet or this producer at Paramount will never hire you”, then they need to go after that Person/Studio

  • tazz602

    Little dose of reality for these “out celebrities” that feel it hurt their career – let’s do the same study in States that do not recognize being GLBT in their non-discrimination laws. Come to AZ where you can be fired for simply being gay, denied housing or other business services without any recourse. The celebrities have it pretty good and have protections from their union and industry. So take recourse if needed but stop complaining because most American’s don’t even have that right or any avenue of recourse to redress the issue.

  • Pistolo

    It drives me nuts that straight men are always getting gay roles. It’s as though every time a major gay role comes up they have to give it to a straight actor and then praise him for being so “brave”. Is there a shortage of gay actors in Hollywood I’m somehow not aware of?

  • AEH

    No shit.

  • Tackle

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. Rupet Everett said this ten yrs ago, and he was condemned & vilified by some in the GLBT community, who wrote him off as being a bitter aging queen who got bad plastic surgery. And actor Charlie David talked about how his career was hurt by coming out publicly. That’s why I don’t believe in the act of forcing or putting pressure on someone to come out. I think Ricky Martin was smart. Make thoes millions first, and come out later. Hollywood / the entertainment industry can be very liberal & open minded in many was. But the bottom line will always rule out.

  • mydude


    Well, Rupert Everett is a bitter, aging queen who even before his bad plastic surgery, was making bad choices in the films he did.

    Hollywood gave him an opening and had plenty to choose from and what did he choose? The Next Best Thing with Madonna. That was his fault.

    Rupert, nor any of actor is guaranteed a career…he thought he was.

    This doesn’t take away from homophobia in Hollywood, though.

  • Cam


    Rupert went on the tonight show and told Jay Leno about how he mailed pubic hair back to a fan who sent him a letter he didn’t like.

    Things like that combined with the fact that his supposed big movie “The Next Best Thing” was a massive box office failure are a huge part of what happened to his career.

  • ChiChi Man

    Sad but true. I was at a freaking LGBT fundraiser talking to a producer on a buzzed about film. The tool actually said that he hadn’t hired a popular out actor to play the straight lead because he didn’t want any questions about the actor’s chemistry with the female. When I mentioned how talented the actor was, I was told that I didn’t understand investors.

  • Polaro

    Coming out as gay does hurt one’s career, to a certain extent proportional to the talent. If one is super talented, the work still comes. If one is mediocre, as are most, then the well dries up substantially. Rupert Everett is actually very talented, but he is a pain in the ass, so he might as well be mediocre and the damage is done.

    I blame no one for staying in the closet. I do, however, applaud those who do come out, even if forced.

  • LadyL

    @Tackle: Ricky Martin did not stay in the closet as long as he did because he was “smart.” He did it because he was scared and was being continually pressured to keep quiet by his managers and handlers (whose main concern seemed more about their meal-ticket than his welfare).
    After he came out, and went on the “Oprah” show to talk about his experiences, he said he finally told his management team “What part of ‘I can’t take it anymore’ don’t you understand??”
    So let’s drop this notion that actors who stay in the closet are “strategizing.” They’re not. They know competition for roles is steep and homophobia among casting directors and others is strong. Like Martin, they’re scared of negative consequences and being advised to remain quiet.

  • AlanZ

    Before you laugh I know soaps are all bad schlock. Bad stories actors ect. But I’ve been a fan of Day of our Lives for years. For the past couple of them they have had a running storyline about two characters Will and Sonny. A gay love story. The actor that portrays Will Chandler Massey has won 2 Emmy’s. GLAAD has honored both Chandler and Freddie Smith for their work. But many of us on the fan page have said ,and after today’s show we will again, that whenever they kiss it like they are kissing an ugly prom date. Any bedroom scenes the camera cuts to them cuddling after. Whereas whenever one of the straight couples have a love scene it’s full on tongue action and they all but show them going at it doggy style. Hell the Preist on the show had hotter flashbacks. And no not with alter boys. Chandler was recently let go without notice before he was to leave when his contract was up in Dec. Anyway we’ve all commented that these scenes are cut because the brass has no balls. But still wonder why the parts aren’t going to gay actors.

  • AlanZ

    I hit the submit button before I read my last line. I really meant aren’t there gay actors to play these gay roles?

  • Dixie Rect

    A study had to be done to figure this out? Really?

  • mcflyer54

    @Pistolo: There is no shortage but often gay actors don’t want to be cast in gay roles for fear of being typecast and stuck in only those roles. Is it fair? Of course not, but it happens every day (ask Sean Hayes, Andrew Rannalls, Nathan Lane, Ellen, Rosie, etc.) Sean Hayes took critical heat for playing a straight man in “Promises, Promises” on Broadway. Neil Patrick Harris did not come out until “How I met Your Mother” was well underway and his next major role will be on Broadway playing a trans-gender man. Zackery Quinto (who is EXCELLENT in the current Broadway production of “The Glass Menagerie”) did not come out until his first turn as Spock in the “Star Trek” sequel was completed has not experienced the romantic leading man roles that have gone to his co-star Chris Pine (Capt. Kirk). There are some exceptions (maybe London actor John Barrowman) but there are many more gay actors who will never be given the opportunity their talent deserves. The treatment of gay actors has resulted in the production of far more gay themed films from small independent film makers then ever before although these movies rarely make money and don ‘t create major movie stars,. But it is going to be a while, maybe a long while, before sexual orientation is not given consideration when casting big budget mainstream movies.

  • Pistolo

    What’s sad to me is that even if you are “out”, people’s benchmark for how good of an actor you are is still how well you can play straight. They cite Neil Patrick Harris as a testament to being out in Hollywood and though I think he’s tremendously talented and a great role model, if he were playing a gay character that wasn’t a caricature he would likely be way less successful.

    I think there should be more interesting gay roles. You never see a gay guy in a choreographed fight scene as a superspy or superhero, they’re the butt of jokes in most comedies, in dramas they have to be tormented by their sexuality….it’s very limiting creatively.

    And, frankly, a lot of the indie gay movies I’ve seen haven’t been all that good. I want to see gay characters with just as much *character* as archetypes in classic movies.

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