GLAAD has released its annual Studio Responsibility Index, a thorough analysis of LGBTQ representation in major studio films, and progress was slow in 2019. While the number of LGBTQ characters increased, the appearance of non-white LGBTQ characters decreased and transgender characters were not present at all. While the percentage of LGBTQ characters is the highest its been in the eight-year history of the report, none of the eight major studios received a “Good” grade. The grading system factors in the quality, quantity, and diversity of LGBTQ representation.
GLAAD found that of the 118 films released from major studios in 2019, 22 (18.6 percent) included characters that were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer (LGBTQ). This represents a slight increase from the previous year’s report (18.2 percent, 20 out of 110 films). Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, United Artists Releasing, and Universal Pictures received “Insufficient” grades; Sony Pictures Entertainment and Walt Disney Studios received “Poor” grades; and STX Films received a “Failing” grade, with no LGBTQ representation whatsoever.
For the third consecutive year, there was a decrease in the number of non-white LGBTQ characters, indicating a troubling trend. In 2019, just 34 percent of LGBTQ characters were people of color (17 of 50), down from 42 percent in the previous report and a decrease from the 57 percent of LGBTQ characters of color in 2017. GLAAD is calling on the studios to ensure that within two years at least half of their LGBTQ characters are people of color.
This year’s report also shows a decrease in lesbian and bisexual representation in comparison with gay men. Gay men appeared in 68 percent (15) of inclusive films, an increase from last year’s 55 percent. Lesbian representation has decreased significantly, down to 36 percent (8) of inclusive films. Bisexual representation slightly decreased to 14 percent, with only three films featuring bi characters, an equal number of films to the previous year.
For the third year in a row, transgender characters were entirely absent from major studio releases.
GLAAD employs its own version of the Bechdel Test to analyze the films, which it named the Vito Russo test after the “Celluloid Closet” author and GLAAD co-founder. For a film to “Pass,” it must contain a character that is openly and identifiably LGBTQ, and the character must not be “solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity.”
Most importantly and most difficult to find: “The LGBTQ character must be tied into the plot in such a way that their removal would have a significant effect. Meaning they are not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punchline. The character should matter.”
Here are the major films that passed the Vito Russo Test listed by studio:
“Five Feet Apart”
“What Men Want”
“A Dog’s Way Home”
“The Good Liar”
“Isn’t It Romantic”
“IT Chapter Two”