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No Film Studio Had ‘Sufficient’ LGBTQ Representation in 2021, GLAAD Report Finds

Disney came the closest, while Lionsgate and Paramount came dead last.

Eternals Marvel Cinematic Universe Chloe Zhao movie

“Eternals”

Disney

GLAAD isn’t satisfied with the state of LGBTQ representation in film. The advocacy organization found that no major film studio had “sufficient” LGBTQ representation in its film slate last year, according to a new report.

Released December 15, the 2022 GLAAD “Studio Responsibility Report” looks at the theatrically released films produced by major studios in 2021 to determine whether each studio is up to par in terms of onscreen representation. Since the report only looks at the movies released last year, major releases like “Bros” or Disney’s “Strange World” aren’t counted in the tally.

According to GLAAD, of the 77 films released theatrically in 2021, 16 (20.8 percent) featured characters who were explicitly LGBTQ. This represents an increase from the 10 out of 44 that featured LGBT characters in 2020 and a decrease of 1.9 percent from the 22.7 percent figure from 2020. Nineteen of the 28 queer characters from said films were male, nine were women, and none were non-binary. A single character — Anybodys (iris means) in “West Side Story” — was trans, the first time a trans character appeared in a major studio theatrical release in five years. The vast majority of the LGBTQ characters were white, at 61 percent, while 18 percent were Black, 7 percent were Latino, 7 percent were Asian, 4 percent were multiracial, and 4 percent were Middle Eastern. In addition, no queer characters had disabilities.

In terms of the individual studios, neither Lionsgate nor Paramount released films with LGBTQ characters theatrically. Sony and Warner Bros. both released two — “A Journal For Jordan” and “Our Ladies” from Sony and “In the Heights” and “Reminiscence” from Warner Bros. Universal Pictures released three — “Candyman,” “Dear Evan Hansen,” and “Halloween Kills” — while United Artists Releasing put out four — “Licorice Pizza,” “No Time to Die,” “House of Gucci,” and “Respect.”

Perhaps surprisingly, Walt Disney Pictures led representation of LGBT characters in their theatrically released projects, with five movies that featured explicitly queer characters: “Eternals,” “Jungle Cruise,” “Free Guy,” “The King’s Man,” and “West Side Story.” The report notes, “Compared to other studios tracked in this report, Walt
Disney Studios historically has a particularly poor reputation surrounding LGBTQ inclusion.” The report only looks at 2021 and onscreen representation, so it doesn’t account for the controversy Disney found itself in over the Don’t Say Gay bill earlier this year.

GLAAD also rated each studio’s representation in terms of both number of LGBTQ characters represented and the quality of the representation in terms of centrality to the film and avoidance of negative stereotypes. Sony, Disney, Universal Pictures, and United Artists Releasing managed “insufficient” ratings, while Warner Bros. rated poor and Lionsgate and Paramount received failing ratings.

Elsewhere in the report, GLAAD looked at the art house subsidiary studios Focus Features, Roadside Attractions, Searchlight Pictures, and Sony Pictures Classics and found that seven out of 36 releases were LGBTQ-inclusive, consistent with 2020’s slate from these studios. The report praised the representation featured in films like “I Carry You With Me” and “Parallel Mothers” from these studios, but criticized the representation featured in movies like “Joe Bell,” where the queer character is primarily a plot device for a straight lead’s arc.

Read the full GLAAD Studio Responsibility Report here.

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