Gay TV characters at record high

ABC leads broadcast nets with eight, while CBS has zero

Gay characters are more common than ever on broadcast TV this season, 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 characters will appear on broadcast series this season, representing 3% of the characters on TV.

GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios said the increase is particularly meaningful coming after last year, when representation doubled from 2007.

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

ABC continues to lead in scripting gay characters, with eight. Barrios said NBC (three) and Fox (four) have made significant strides; only two years ago, Fox had no regular gay characters. The CW has two this year.

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

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

While broadcast continues to increase its LGBT representation, the number of gay characters on mainstream cable networks is down to 25 from last year's 32.

The vast majority of this season's gay characters are men. Only one -- Dr. Arizona Robbins on ABC's "Grey's Anatomy" -- is a lesbian, and three other female characters are bisexual. There are no transgender characters.

Barrios singled out Fox's "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.