That was the finding of an annual report by Glaad, released on Tuesday, that seeks to quantify lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender representation on television. The “Where We Are on TV” report assesses the presence of such characters in the 2015-16 season, defined as broadcast, cable and streaming shows expected to premiere between June 1, 2015, and May 31, 2016. (Scheduling changes could affect the figures.)
Glaad found that of the 881 regular characters scheduled to appear on prime-time broadcast television, 35, or 4 percent, were identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual. There are another 35 recurring characters — people who make multiple appearances in a series but are not part of the main cast — who fit that description.
Scripted cable series will feature 84 regular lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters (up from 64 last season) and 58 recurring ones (up from 41). Original series premiering on the streaming services Amazon, Hulu and Netflix include 43 such series regulars and 16 recurring ones.
Overall character counts and percentages are harder to tabulate in cable and streaming, said Matt Kane, Glaad’s director of entertainment media, because those programming slates are more fluid. Broadcasters tend to follow clearly defined seasonal schedules.
This was the first year that the Glaad report included streaming series. (The report has been prepared since 2005.) Those shows notably included four transgender characters, with two leading roles on the Emmy-winning “Transparent,” the Amazon series about a transitioning patriarch, and “Sense8,” the Netflix thriller about a group of mysteriously interconnected people.
There are no transgender characters on prime-time broadcast television, the report said, and three recurring transgender characters on cable.
The number of bisexual characters rose on both broadcast and cable this year, but “many of these characters still fall into dangerous stereotypes about bisexual people,” the report noted. Such characters are often depicted as being immoral, manipulative or self-destructive, the report said.
Of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender characters on television, most are gay men, the study found. These characters are also overwhelmingly white, ranging from 73 percent on streaming series to 69 percent in broadcast.
The full report is at Glaad.org.