Hollywood studio movies have made gains in depicting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer characters, but the industry still has far more ground to cover to fully reflect the LGBTQ community, according to GLAAD’s eighth annual Studio Responsibility Index unveiled on Thursday.
In a new survey of 118 films released by major studios in 2019, the advocacy group gave all the major studios low grades for their LGBTQ representation. Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, United Artists Releasing and Universal Pictures were marked as “insufficient” by GLAAD, while Sony Pictures Entertainment and Walt Disney Studios received “poor” grades and STX Films was slapped with a “failing” grade as it had no LGBTQ representation in its 2019 film slate.
GLAAD created the Studio Responsibility Index in 2013 to track LGBTQ inclusion in major studio films. The advocacy group’s 2020 index report surveyed films released by Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, STX Films, United Artists Releasing, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros., as well as films released by four subsidiaries of the major studios.
That included theatrical releases like Rocketman and Booksmart that had gay and lesbian leads, while tentpoles like Avengers: Endgame and Toy Story 4 included minor gay characters in only one scene. Among the studios, Paramount Pictures had the highest percentage of LGBTQ-inclusive films at three titles, or 33 percent of its slate, while Lionsgate had the highest volume at five films, or 25 percent of its theatrical pipeline.
Across the major studios, GLAAD said LGBTQ representation in their movies reached a new high as 22 films released by major studios last year, of 18.6 percent. That figure was just up on the previous year’s report that pointed to 20 of 110 films, or 18.2 percent, having LGBTQ characters.
At the same time, only nine inclusive studio films tracked from last year included an LGBTQ character who had more than ten minutes of screen time. Over half of the LGBTQ characters — or 28 out of of 50 — received less than three minutes of total screen time, with 21 of those characters appearing for under a minute.
And the racial diversity of the LGBTQ characters, as well as the number of queer women characters in the Hollywood movies, dropped last year. And for the third year running, GLAAD said transgender characters were absent from the movies surveyed as part of their latest study.
“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. If film studios want to stay relevant to today’s audiences and compete in an industry that is emphasizing diversity and inclusion, then they must urgently reverse course on the diminishing representation of LGBTQ women and people of color, as well as the complete absence of trans characters,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.
GLAAD in its latest report found men continue to outnumber women when it comes to LGBTQ characters in major studio movies. The 2019 slate of Hollywood movies showed a decrease in lesbian and bisexual representation, as gay men appeared in 15, or 68 percent, of inclusive films, up from last year’s 55 percent.
Lesbian representation by contrast dropped down to only eight movies, or 36 percent of the studios’ inclusive film slate, against 55 percent in 2018. Bisexual representation fell slightly to 14 percent of inclusive movies in Hollywood last year, against 15 percent in 2018.
“There were zero films with transgender characters from the major studios in 2019, a disappointing finding consistent with the last two years,” the GLAAD report said. As in earlier years, drama and comedy films were the most inclusive genres in 2019, followed by genre films in terms of the most representative studio pictures.