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September 30, 2009

GLAAD: Gay TV characters at record high; CBS criticized


Gay characters are more common than ever on broadcast TV, with representation making gains over last year's all-time high.

According to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's 14th annual survey, 18 LGBT regular series characters will appear on broadcast this season, representing 3% of of characters on TV.

GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios says that increase is particularly meaningful coming after last year, when representation doubled from 2007.

"Last year's looked like it might be a blip, but the spike seems to be a sustained trend in increased number of gay characters in recurring roles," Barrios said. "Its a critical way toward changing the hearts and minds of America."

ABC (8 characters) continues to lead in scripting gay characters. Barrios said NBC (3) and Fox (4) have made significant strides -- only two years ago Fox had no regular gay characters. The CW had two.

CBS, however, had no gay characters out of 132 series regulars.

"CBS alone is a network that continues to weed out gay and lesbian programming, they're really out of step with network television," Barrios said.

Of all the characters, the vast majority are men. Only one gay character on broadcast is a lesbian this season (Dr. Arizona on "Grey's Anatomy"), with three other female characters playing bisexuals.There are no transgender characters planned at all.

Barrios singled out "Glee" for particular praise, citing last week's episode that showed a teenage boy struggling with his sexual orientation and discussing the matter with his father.

"It is a much deeper and fuller portrayal of this issue than what we've seen before," he said.


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