What a “Record High” of LGBTQ+ Characters on TV Means for the Community

New television shows and new plot lines of existing series have introduced a host of new characters, including a number of LGBTQ+ characters. But there’s more to be excited about than just the numbers. The visibility of LGBTQ+ characters on television demonstrates increased acceptance of all sexual orientations and further encourages understanding and compassion for all genders.

The Numbers

GLADD has compiled a list of LGBTQ+ characters—lead, supporting and recurring—on all network TV shows, and the numbers are up for 2016 compared to any other time in history! Many of these characters also represent other minority populations, which helps to demonstrate that sexual orientation and gender identification is expressed across cultures and ethnicities.

The increase in number of LGBTQ+ characters is slowly growing to better match the real proportion of LGBTQ+ members in the larger society (although there’s still a long way to go).

More than Numbers

While GLADD is excited to see the increase of LGBTQ+ characters, they do still note that many of these characters are not permanent. Many of these characters are often written out of the show, and that can be interpreted as a subtle heteronormative message.

The next step is to have permanent LGBTQ+ characters who are essential to the fabric of the show, just as LGBTQ+ members are essential to the fabric of our families and communities.