As television gets more diverse, American movies lag behind in LGBT representation

A new survey on LGBT characters on the big screen reveals that film remains a very straight medium

By Katie McDonough
Published August 21, 2013 1:17PM (EDT)
                                                                                             (AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)
(AP Photo/Mathew Sumner)

A new report tracking the presence of LGBT characters in movies reveals that, unlike television, a medium that has made considerable progress in becoming more inclusive, characters on the big screen remain very, very straight.

In the report, GLAAD reviewed 101 films released in 2012 by the six top-grossing film studios in 2012 -- 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony's Columbia, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros. Of these films, only 14 featured gay or bisexual characters, only four included such a character in a substantive role central to the film's plot, and none featured a transgender character.

"Until LGBT characters appear more regularly in these studio films, there will be the appearance of bias," GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz told the Associated Press.

GLAAD's index criteria included whether a character was identifiably LGBT, whether the character was predominantly defined by his or her sexual orientation or gender identity, and whether the character's presence in the film had a significant impact on the plot.

The studios that fared worst in the survey were 20th Century Fox and Disney, each receiving a "failing" grade on LGBT inclusivity. The four remaining studios -- Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. -- receive grades of "adequate." Not a single studio received a grade of "good" or "excellent."

"Hollywood films are one of the country's most visible cultural exports. They not only impact culture in our country, but in other places too," Cruz noted, alluding to Russia's draconian anti-gay laws. "It is a very timely report."

Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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Film Gay Rights Lgbt Inclusion Lgbt Rights Movies Transgender Rights