And don’t forget: Britain’s gay characters also slam down the Koran — and set off firestorms of complaints!
Gay people were portrayed positively and realistically for just 46 minutes in 126 hours of TV programmes, a study by Stonewall has found. They were shown as predatory, promiscuous or comical stereotypes half the time they appeared.
Soaps and reality shows such as Hollyoaks, I’m a Celebrity …, How to Look Good Naked and Emmerdale gave most screen time to gay, lesbian and bisexual characters or issues, but they were almost invisible in talent shows and dramas.
Researchers watched the 20 programmes most popular with young viewers for 16 weeks between last September and January 2010. Lesbian, gay and bisexual people were portrayed for five hours and 43 minutes in total – but 36% of that was negative, according to the report Unseen on Screen, and 31% was realistic but showed them as upset or distressed.
Stonewall monitored shows on BBC1, ITV1, Channel 4 and Five including The Bill, The X Factor, EastEnders, Blue Peter, The One Show and Strictly Come Dancing. It found that BBC1 portrayed lesbians for just 29 seconds out of nearly 40 screen hours.
The Stonewall chief executive, Ben Summerskill, said: “It’s hardly surprising that there’s still almost endemic homophobic bullying in Britain’s secondary schools when, even if gay people do appear on TV shows watched by young people, they’re depicted in a derogatory or demeaning way.”
In a 2009 YouGov poll of secondary school teachers, 71% said that anti-gay language in broadcasts affected homophobic bullying. Three in five said they regularly witnessed anti-gay bullying.
Stonewall has called on broadcasters and Ofcom to devise guidelines on how to portray gay characters positively and authentically. It said 17- and 18-year-old gay people did not relate to those they saw on TV.
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