A New Report Says Movies Are Way Behind When It Comes to LGBT Characters

GLAAD is proving Hollywood has a long way to go.

When it comes to diversity, shows like Transparent and Orange Is the New Black have earned accolades for portraying transgender, gay, and lesbian characters in a positive light. But a new report from GLAAD shows that movies aren't keeping up with the times.

The group's annual Studio Responsibility Index (opens in new tab) tracks the "quantity, quality, and diversity" of LGBT representation in movies released by major studios. They use what they call the Vito Russo Test (opens in new tab), which measures if a character is identifiably LGBT, but not predominantly defined by their sexuality, and important to the movie's plot.

Out of 114 movies they analyzed from 2014, only 20 of them (17.5%) featured gay, lesbian, or bisexual characters, and only 11 of those passed the Vito Russo Test. Not a single character in these movies identified as transgender. Even still, it's an uptick from 2013, when only 16.7% of characters were gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Of the films that had LGBT characters, the majority were gay males, while 30% were bisexual and only 10% were lesbian.

Comedies were the most likely genre to feature gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters, but only three of the blockbuster action films they studied featured LGBT people, and that's where the money is. And frustratingly, some of the LGBT characters portrayed weren't overt about their sexuality; audiences may not have even known unless they did outside research. Warner Brothers was the only studio to get a "Good" rating, thanks to the comedy Tammy, which features multiple lesbian characters.

While GLAAD noted that there were fewer gay slurs in movies, there are still "problematic" films like Get Hard that ruin everything. "This glaring lack of consistency seems to be common amongst almost every major film studio," CEO Kate Ellis said in a press release (opens in new tab), "showing a need for greater oversight in how their films represent–or don't represent–significant portions of their audience."

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Megan Friedman

Megan Friedman is the former managing editor of the Newsroom at Hearst. She's worked at NBC and Time, and is a graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism.