CW Tops GLAAD’s LGBT Character Test As TBS And History Fail Again


It is that time of year again: time for GLAAD's annual Network Responsibility Index, a tally of how LGBT characters are fairing on the major networks and cable channels.

Again, youth-skewing network CW came out on top with 29% of its programming hours devoted to positive portrayals of gay people, including a gay wedding on 90210.

ABC and Fox came in second and third place, respectively, while NBC again was in fourth. CBS, the network preferred by oldest Americans, still has only 8% inclusivity, meaning it is still taking up the rear on this one.

Here's the rundown on cable channels, via GLAAD:

    •    Showtime (46%), ABC Family (34%), TNT (34%), and HBO (33%) all received “Good” ratings for the quantity and quality of their LGBT-inclusive original programming.

    •    MTV (23%) which received an “Excellent” score two years ago received an “Adequate” score this year along with FX (34%), TLC (20%) and USA (17%).

    •    For the fourth year in a row TBS (5%) received a “Failing” rating, as did the History network (3%).

For all LGBT people's prime placement in prime time, there's still a huge gap in representation: 66% of these characters, either on fictional shows or reality television, are white, meaning networks and cable need to do a little work to expand their coverage.

"Including an ethnically diverse cast of characters will not only be a more accurate reflection of the LGBT community but will also give programs the opportunity to build authentic and complex storylines," says GLAAD. And, yes, transgender representation remains in the single digits: "Transgender inclusive hours recorded on broadcast television went from 0.002% last year to 0.01% this year, the number also remained extremely low for the cable networks tracked at 0.005%." Most of the storylines they observed were "exploitative and overtly negative."

The biggest highlight in pro-transgender representation was Chaz Bono's turn on Dancing with the Stars. "The appearance of Chaz Bono on Dancing with the Stars was a
groundbreaking step in transgender representation on television this
year," said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. "His very candid appearance on the program taught
many that transgender Americans deserve respect and acceptance."


  1. says

    No joke, most of my family came around and accepted me for being gay based on many gay characters or storylines they saw on t.v (with my aunt, it was the show Brothers & Sisters)

    It makes a huge impact on straight people. They get engaged and drawn into a plot on a show, and suddenly a switch goes off and they think “hmm, I mean, it doesn’t look so bad and evil, and I’m starting to feel something in my heart” and soon after an episode or powerful season, they’ll pick up the phone and call a gay relative and “come around”
    It’s happened with me and family I know. Trust me. It makes a difference and we need more of it.

  2. Dynex says

    Of course having visibility with identifiable gay characters, who are openly gay, makes a positive impact on both society and gay individuals. It humanizes the gay experience for heteros, some who have no exposure to gay people, and are suddenly forced to be stimulated by a gay theme that they find compelling and makes them think. I’d argue it’s a necessity to have gay stories, and characters in mass media in our quest for equality. They go hand in hand sometimes. Visbility is so incredibly vital.

  3. says

    Let’s also state the fact that sometimes we as gay people can’t explain the importance of gaining the acceptance, love, and encouragment of our family as well as a talented screen writer, producer or story teller can. Sometimes it packs more of a punch for a parent to see the harm homophobia does in a movie like “Prayers for bobby” which played on Lifetime in repeat, then it does hearing a child who isn’t so articulate attempt to describe it. I cosign the notion that Hollywoods help….helps. I wish we could see more advertisments showing perfectly normal, happy gay couples. The normalcy aspect of being gay can only come by displaying gays (and gay couples freely and openly being gay couples, not introducing each other as ‘roomates’ or putting on the facade of ‘bros’ in public which all do nothing but further distance and make foriegn the idea of being in same sex relationships. We need to make it more common place, not hidden)

  4. Jarid says

    Thank you to the CW network. Even if one gay child in a small town can watch a program an identify with a gay guy on it, it makes all the difference. Take my personal story as an example.

    For me, I would come home after years of ridicule/taunting/beatings in my small Kentucky town as a teenager, turn on Will & Grace, and completely forget about the harsh cruel realities of the world outside in my small town.

    I pretended I was friends with Jack, and went out to tsee theatre shows with Will, and got drunk with Karen, and laughed with Grace, and it all took my mind off my own crap, and made me happy. And sincerely got me through school. I am a dork to admit this, but I remember studying very hard in high school even under emotional distress because I wanted to live in Manhatten like the Will & Grace cast, and I knew it wouldn’t be cheap and I’d need to land a good paying job. Flash forward to today, and I’m an NYU grad working as a graphic designer here in the city. Never underestimate the power of pop culture and media, notably gay oriented images, for a young struggling gay child. It’s sometimes the only tool they can draw inspiration and motivation from.

  5. Kevin says

    At least 66% of gay people are white, so why is that 66% of gay characters are white a bad thing?

    There is inclusiveness and then there is just ridiculousness. GLAAD like most of the time falls into the latter category.

  6. Paul R says

    @Kevin, I agree, but I think you need to qualify that with “66% of out gay people.” It remains much harder for, say, Asians, African-Americans, and Latinos to be out, though of course many are gay. But whites only account for about 50% of the US population these days.

  7. jjh says

    @Kevin and PaulR: Actually at least 70% of the US general population self-identiies as white so GLAAD’s figure of 66% white gay representation in the media beats the demographics and should be celebrated. Not sure what point they are trying to make there but I would bet that representations of non-white, straight characters on TV is even worse.

  8. Patrick says

    James: True Blood the character Lafayette,Glee had a character that was either a T or G or Q in the Acronym list….

    LOGO SUCKS!!! Can a wealthy bunch of Fire Island home owners please buy it from the heteros that are flushing it down the drain with ‘teen mom’ ‘kill bill’ ‘wife’s club’ etc.

    Queer as Folk, I would sleep in the basement and keep the volume on 4 with an eye to the door and an ear to the ceiling watching and wishing i could live that life…

  9. Buster says

    Why do people who are writing on the Internet keep making up statistics THAT ARE EASILY AVAILABLE ON THE INTERNET?

    According to the US Census, as of 2010 78.1% of Americans report themselves as white — this percentage is reduced to 63.4% if you don’t include Hispanics as White. (

    So, it seems to me, as Kevin says, that if 66% of gays on tv are represented as white, and 34% as non-white, then in that regard, job well done!

    The real fight is to get gays represented as something other than 18-45 year old, gym-going urbanites with stylish wardrobes and tastefully decorated homes. Of course, that’s a problem for straight people’s representation as well (well, except for “Hoarders” and “Cops”).

  10. Robert K. says

    @James, actually, there’s a hot affair between two black men on the new series, “The L.A. Complex.” The roles are played by actors Andra Fuller and Benjamin Charles Watson.

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