GLAAD: Major Film Studios Failing at LGBT-Inclusivity – Read the Report


GLAAD today released its 2013 Studio Responsibility Index, which analyzes the “quantity, quality, and diversity” of LGBT people in films from 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers released in 2012.

On a related note, Towleroad’s film critic Nathaniel Rogers released his own list of the ‘Best LGBT Movie Characters of 2012‘ at the end of that year. You might want to check that out.

As far as GLAAD’s report goes, the results are poor for all involved:

Out of the 101 film releases by the major studios in the 2012 calendar year, only 14 films contained characters identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual. There were no films containing transgender characters. More detailed looks at each studio and their films can be found in the report.

Fox and Disney received “failing” grades. Disney released one LGBT-inclusive film while Fox released none. The grades for all other studios was “adequate”.

One new element of the report is the Vito Russo Test, named for GLAAD founder Vito Russo.

The L.A. Times explains:

To pass the “Russo Test,” a film must contain an identifiably LGBT character, who must not be solely identified by their sexual orientation or gender identity, and who must be tied to the film’s plot so that his or her removal from the story would have a major effect on it.

According to the report, six of the 14 studio films that featured LGBT characters passed the Russo Test.

Kane said “Cloud Atlas,” an independent movie distributed by Warner Bros. in the U.S. and Canada, was the most LGBT-inclusive film released by a major studio in 2012. The Tom Hanks-starring picture, directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer, passed the Russo Test.

Also drawing positive notice from GLAAD, and passing the Russo Test, were Universal’s “Pitch Perfect” and Paramount’s “Fun Size.” Universal and Sony each released four LGBT-inclusive films in 2012 — more than the other major studios.

Films released by the studios’ specialty imprints, such as Universal’s Focus Features, were not included in the tallies. Companies like Focus, Sony Pictures Classics and Fox Searchlight Pictures — all known for their independent sensibilities — released films in 2012 that featured LGBT characters. Under the parameters of the study, Jinks’ “Milk,” which was released by Focus in 2008, wouldn’t have been included in the tally.

Read the report below:


  1. WHATWHAT says

    So 14% of major film releases contained gay characters? How exactly is that bad? Especially since we’re what… 4-6% of the population? What exactly does GLAAD want these movie studios to do? Start cramming in unecessary gay and transgendered characters for no reason? I wonder what percentage of these films contained Asian actors/characters.

    I think we need to be more concerned with how we’re being portrayed, not how often we are. I’ll take quality over quantity anyday.

  2. nano says

    Hollywood was built on the casting couch whereupon women prostituted themselves to sleazy men in order to get fame and money as actresses. Male homosexuality interferes with that formula.

    Even with the social changes of the last 50 years, male homosexuality still remains a threat to the “sleazy straight guy and his bisexual female enabler”. Both straight guys and ‘bisexual’ women see male homosexuality as a threat to their money-making formula.

  3. Wil says

    The movie of Cloud Atlas was “gayer” than the book in that Frobisher (Ben Whishaw’s character) was bisexual in the book but not in the film, in which he was presented as totally gay. In the book he falls in love with his mentor’s wife (all whilst writing to his “true love”, Sexsmith). This causes a rift with his mentor. In the film it is the elderly mentor himself with whom Frobisher falls in love (quite preposterously actually). While I loved Ben Whishaw in the film, I found this deviation from the book a bit off-putting. But both book and movie did a lovely job of portraying the profound love between Frobisher and Sexsmith, and in that way were quite affirming of gay relationships (even ones that end grimly).

  4. says

    The “Vito Russo Test” is total BS. The Bechdel test that it is flagrantly ripping off is not BS. Having a gay character that has to be central to the plot is absurd. That is asking for the moon. Let movies be organic things that people can tweak, in the WRITING stage, into better works.

  5. ratbastard says

    Please. There are few gayer industries than the entertainment one, film, tv,music, etc., Everything is controlled by literally a handful of people, relatively speaking, and gays are heavily represented in management.

    What we could do with is less of the gay stereotypes. In my lifetime I seen a relative handful of movies that had gay characters that weren’t a stereotype. TV and music is worse in this respect.

  6. Chase says

    Looks like they have too much time on their hands and had to complain about 14% of movies. Hollywood tends to make big movies if they make money (whether the film has gay characters or not). Go figure that big Hollywood studios want to make movies that actually make money.

  7. nano says


    Actually, the music industry is extremely homophobic. None of the musical acts in the itunes top 100 includes an openly gay or bi male. It’s more barren than the Mojave desert. Just because there are gay or bi guys working behind the scenes, it doesn’t mean they are welcome at the level of marketing.


    All men are capable of homosexual acts. That’s why they fear it. You need to stop thinking of homosexuality as an identity and start looking at it in terms of an act. They fear the homosexual act because they know every man is capable of it.

  8. northalabama says

    i once heard they found a cure for homosexuality – the screen actors guild. frankly, i’m amazed there were so many glbt characters found in films from hollywood. i imagine a great many of the characters were evil sociopaths who were murdered or committed suicide – the seemingly justifiable way to portray a glbt character from the major studios point of view. hollywood is almost as bad as the “religious” wrong. i’m more concerned with quality, not quantity.

  9. Brent silverstein says

    All men are capable of homosexual acts. That’s why they fear us. It is the act they fear, and not the identity of homosexuality.

    While it’s true that gay and bi men are everywhere, movies and music tend to shun us at the level of marketing..

  10. Well says

    I’m surprised at how many stupid gays on here are actually defending the studios. Most of the major motion pictures that actually do have gay characters are little supporting roles. Tell me, how many films from major studios have gay characters that are main characters? Also, tell me how many openly gay actors there are in lead roles?

    I’m waiting.

  11. Well says

    I’m surprised at how many stupid gays on here are actually defending the studios. Most of the major motion pictures that actually do have gay characters are little supporting roles. Tell me, how many films from major studios have gay characters that are main characters? Also, tell me how many openly gay actors there are in lead roles?

    I’m waiting.

  12. Francis #1 says

    Film, and really TV too, and as has said above, the music industry as well, are not inclusive regarding depictions of the LGBT community because they feel it’s a risk that isn’t worth taking. Until they feel it isn’t a risk, they’re not going to be very inclusive. And as Well put it, most gay characters across the board are in minor supporting roles, and virtually never a major character.

    Few major out actors. Few major out musicians. The entertainment world, where the men are what, 50% gay at least, is keeping us in the dark and it’s obvious.

  13. ratbastard says


    Yeah, I know. But I was referencing the actual number of gay and bi men in the industry, both performers and management.

    LOL…some of the most homophobic people I’ve ever met have been musicians and artists! I think the stereotype p*sses them off.

  14. JY says

    Now I’ve seen everything. Throwing in gay characters just for the sake of having a gay character there seems important to “WELL,” and “Nano” is complaining about the music charts, which are based on sales, as if somehow now MATH is homophobic? Guess what? Adam Lambert and Elton John don’t put out hits every other week, and people SHOULDN’T buy crappy music by an artist just because they are gay. People buy music that they think sounds good.

  15. David From Canada says

    I agree 1000%! I can’t even remember the last time I saw a gay character in an American-made movie. It’s as though we don’t exist – even though we go to the movies a lot. Come on Hollywood, you’re supposed to be liberal – throw a few gay characters in every now and then!! It’ll be great for business and diversity.

  16. Hagatha says

    Movies aren’t community centers, they are profit centers. Look at how many good male violence movies are ruined or at least watered down by superfluous romantic subplots between the leading man and some female. Why? BECAUSE WOMEN SPEND MONEY. That’s why. Because women are a disproportionate share of the audience and they like romantic fantasy. So you have to pollute a perfectly good thriller with heterosexuality.

  17. Hagatha says

    The born again Christians play this game. They whine about there not being any “Christians” in TV shows. Horse crap! There are Christians all over TV shows, it’s just that video of people sitting in church is boring and they don’t wear signs out in the real world.

    There are plenty of gay characters on the screen. They are pumping gas, waiting on tables, driving by in their English suit and German car, waiting for the bus, walking the dog, walking the beat, selling hot dogs, selling drugs, picking up garbage (wastepaper not Chelsea).

  18. Hagatha says

    David From Canada – What does a gay character look like? Is the hot dog vendor gay or straight? How about the drug dealer in the background? The guy walking his dog? The woman with a baby? The cab driver? The guy in the English suit and the German car?

  19. GB says

    Maybe we should have pushed the “rights” issue up a decade so the world could catch up. All we are encountering are bans, bashings and the occasional wedding. It’s time for “Boys In The Band Two” At least the dreary original had gay characters.

  20. GregV says

    “So 14% of major film releases contained gay characters? How exactly is that bad?”

    It’s bad because it is a gross under-representation.

    First, when you say that we’re 4-6% of the population, remember that even that is only citing OUT gay and bi people who are open enough to be willing to identify their orientation to a stranger in, for example, voting exit polls. Real life closeted people who resemble, for example, Jack and Ennis from Brokeback Mountain are not counted amongthat “4-6%” in any survey.

    Second, remember that the “14%” figure does not refer to what percent of CHARACTERS are gay and bi. It refers to how many MOVIES included even ONE solitary minor gay or bi character for even as little as a few seconds in passing.

    As a random example, I recently saw “Now You See Me.” IMDB lists 158 characters in that movie. Nobody was gay or bi.
    Only 4% of movies had an important gay character (ie. not just someone who passed by to serve as a two-second punchline). Again, remember, this does not mean that 4% of all characters’ sexual orientations were gay, but that only 4% of movies had even ONE significant person in them depicted as gay or bi smong the THOUSANDS of heterosexusls depicted..

    On the subject of TV, I remember being struck when I watched Friends that, even though they lived in one of the gayest zip codes in the world (where probably a third or more of men are gay), the characters met hundreds of identifiably straight men in the neighborhood over that decade (i.e. male characters who who were portrayed with a wife or a girlfriend or were romantically persuing Phoebe, Rachel or Monica). They never had so much as even a bus boy mention a boyfriend or two male extras walk by in the background holding hsnds, let alone actually have gay male FRIENDS.
    This is unrealistic. Everybody in the West Village has gay male friends, co-workers and neighbors and would be expected to see evidence of their existence EVERY DAY both in the background and in the foreground of their lives.

  21. GregV says

    “What does a gay character look like?”

    @Hagstha: He or she looks like anybody else. Minor characters and extras whose orientation is not identifiable are obviously not the issue. You may see thousands of people in the background in a single movie and dozens of characters with lines like “Would you like some more water?” whose orientation is unstated and irrelevant.
    The point is that for every thousand female characters a studio depicts who mention “my husband,” there should be a few dozen who mention “my wife.”.
    For every hundred times that various James Bond male co-workets says “I’m going to ask HER out,” there shoukd be several saying, “I’m going to ask HIM out.”
    For every 10 men that tells an infatuated Phoebe, Monica or Rachel, “I have a girlfriend,” there should be several others who told her he already has a boyfriend.
    People’s orientations ARE depicted in movies and on TV many, many times in a single dhow or movie, and a realistic proportion of those shoukd be gay or bi.

  22. JY says

    @GregV, since you decided to cite Now You See Me’s 158 characters, how do you know that none of them were gay or bi? Did they have to make it a point to talk about it? Do YOU make it a point to talk about it when it has nothing to do with the conversation? For all you know, most of the characters could have been gay, and it would have had absolutely nothing to do with magic, the caper, or the presentation of the illusions in the movie. Maybe you need Liza Minnelli doing a number (SATC2 wedding scene) as some kind of odd affirmation that “our people” are visible, but I sure as hell don’t.

  23. jarago says

    “Brokeback Mountain” was the last major studio release that I think actually had a central homosexual theme. There is plenty of bromance in action movies but no actual gay love.

  24. GregV says

    @JY: I thought I clarified that in the post above youre question, but I’ll explain it again in slightly different words for you:

    There are tens of thousands of minor characters and extras in this year’s crop of Hollywood movies about whom we know nothing, and they are not the issue.
    Some of those 158 characters who got billing in the movie I mentioned at random have no known orientation, but, like in 86% of movies, ALL of the characters whose orientation IS indicated have a HETERO orientation. And like 96% of movies, ALL (100%) of the important characters in the movie whose orientation is known have a HETERO orientation.

    There are thousands of characters (from minor featured extras with two lines to leading protagonists) whose orientation or romantic interests ARE indicated in the dialog of this year’s movies. It can be something as simple as a waiter with three lines who says, “I’ll ask my wife about that when I get home” to the main protagonist persuing other characters of the opposite sex in various scenes throughout the movie and having make-out sessions and sex with them in the scenes. I watched The Wolverine just last night and Hugh Jackman is portrayed in flashback-type romantic scenes as well as bedding the new girl he meets, while other characters also persue opposite-sex interests and are occasionally depicted in sexual scenes with opposite-sex people. Again, there were thousands of people seen in the movie (The credits claimed that the movie employed 15,000 people) but 100% of the people WHOSE ORIENTATION WAS SUGGESTED were interested in opposite-sex sex and romance.
    The problem is not the gas pump attendant who doesn’t have any lines. The problem is that in most movies, when we count all the characters we get to know, all the characters whop mention a spouse, all the characters who go on a date, all the characters who are shown goinmg home to someone special, EVERYONE is heterosexual.

    Your comment about Liza is completely irrelevant to anything I said.

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