Acclaimed films such as “Booksmart” and “Rocketman” made 2019 a banner year for LGBTQ representation in Hollywood. But a new survey finds that a lot more work needs to be done before on-screen parity can be achieved.
GLAAD on Thursday unveiled its 2020 “Studio Responsibility Index,” which examined 118 movies released by eight major studios, including The Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. last year.
Of the surveyed films, 22 ― or 18.6% ― featured LGBTQ characters, a slight increase from 2018 (18.4%) and the highest figure in the eight-year history of the report.
Still, GLAAD executives expressed concern over two key findings. For the third year in a row, transgender characters were completely absent from all 118 films. And out of the LGBTQ characters presented, 34% were people of colour, down from 42% in 2018 and 57% in 2017.
“Despite seeing a record-high percentage of LGBTQ-inclusive films this year, the industry still has a long way to go in terms of fairly and accurately representing the LGBTQ community,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in an email. “If film studios want to stay relevant to today’s audiences and compete in an industry that is emphasising diversity and inclusion, then they must urgently reverse course on the diminishing representation of LGBTQ women and people of colour, as well as the complete absence of trans characters.”
As in previous years, the “Studio Responsibility Index” featured a five-point scale for ranking the output of individual studios released over the 2019 calendar year. Lionsgate, Paramount, United Artists Releasing and Universal Pictures received “insufficient” grades, while Sony and Disney were deemed “poor.” With no LGBTQ representation in any of its 2019 films, STX Entertainment received a “failing” grade.
GLAAD unveiled its inaugural “Studio Responsibility Index” in 2013 in hopes of “creating a barometer that will help move the needle forward on LGBTQ representation in film,” Ellis wrote in her introduction to this year’s report.
In spite of this year’s less-than-desirable results, officials challenged studios to include LGBTQ characters in 20% of their releases next year and aim for 50% in 2024. Noting the setbacks the COVID-19 pandemic has already imposed on the movie industry, GLAAD nonetheless expressed hope for a number of upcoming Hollywood releases such as “The Eternals” and “Happiest Season,” both of which are known to feature LGBTQ-inclusive narratives.
When it comes to LGBTQ representation on-screen, GLAAD research has repeatedly found that television ― rather than film ― has led the charge.
The results of last year’s edition of the group’s television-focused survey, “Where We Are on TV,” exceeded officials’ expectations as far as year-over-year diversification was concerned.
Check out GLAAD’s 2020 “Studio Responsibility Index” here.