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Darren Criss (left) and Chris Colfer in a scene from an episode of “Glee”: The Fox television show boasts six gay characters. (Adam Rose/Fox)
Darren Criss (left) and Chris Colfer in a scene from an episode of “Glee”: The Fox television show boasts six gay characters. (Adam Rose/Fox)

Television

Study finds record number of gay characters on U.S. television Add to ...

There’s a record percentage of gay characters on U.S. television this season, reflecting Americans’ growing acceptance of the LGBT community, media advocacy group GLAAD said Friday.

In its annual report, the group said there are 31 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender roles, accounting for 4.4 per cent of the 701 characters in scripted dramas and sitcoms on the five US broadcast networks.

The number of LGBT roles on cable television also increased this season to 61, the group added.

“This year’s increase of LGBT characters on television reflects a cultural change in the way gay and lesbian people are seen in our society,” said Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

He added: “As audiences tune into their favourite programs, they expect to see the same diversity of people they encounter in their daily lives.”

The previous high came in 2010, when 3.9 per cent of the fictional parts on broadcast television were gay. Last year, LGBT characters accounted for just 2.9 per cent of the characters on the five networks, said GLAAD.

The high school musical series Glee on Fox boasted the most LGBT characters – six – of any one show on broadcast television, which historically has been more conservative than cable in its programming.

The uptick comes amid an ongoing debate in the United States over gay marriage, which is fiercely opposed by social conservatives. Three states will vote on the issue next month.

For the first time in the course of its research, GLAAD also took stock of the race and gender balance on US television shows. It found that 44.5 per cent of all characters are female, 12 per cent are black and 4.1 per cent are Latino.

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