HollywoodSept. 14, 2023 — GLAAD released its annual Studio Responsibility Index in a joint press event in Hollywood alongside the Screen Actors Guild - American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Writer's Guild of America (WGA). The organizations gathered at the Los Angeles LGBT Center to amplify the critical need for film studios to meet requests of actors, writers and creatives before the production shut down begins to erase film industry's progress toward inclusive LGBTQ representation. The joint event also came as GLAAD launched its of Black Queer Creative Summit in Los Angeles, an effort to create a more robust pipeline for Black queer creatives to advance across the entertainment industry.
Joining GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis at the joint press event were SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director and Chief Negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland and WGA Vice President Michele Mulroney, alongside actress, and SAG-AFTRA member, Alexandra Grey, actor, comedian, SAG-AFTRA member and co-chair of SAG-AFTRA's National LGBTQ Committee, Jason Stuart, Vice Chair of WGA's LGBTQ Writers Committee, JJ Wienkers-Alvendia, co-chair of WGA's LGBTQ Writers Committee, Spiro Skentzos, and Chief Marketing & Communications Officer of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Phillip Picardi.
GLAAD's annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) maps the quantity, quality and diversity of LGBTQ characters in film during the previous calendar year. The study also serves as a road map for studios, identifying priorities and opportunities to increase and improve fair, accurate and inclusive LGBTQ representation and storytelling in film.
Read the full report including scores by studio: GLAAD.org/SRI
While the first decade of GLAAD's SRI focused on films released theatrically from major studio distributors, changes in distribution styles coupled with evolved audience behaviors has prompted GLAAD to expand the study's scope and include major streaming services. This 11th edition and new decade for GLAAD's SRI tracked the 2022 slates of ten top studio distributors and their subsidiary labels to see where LGBTQ characters are featured. The 10 distributors tracked in this index are: A24, Amazon Studios, AppleTV+, Lionsgate, NBCUniversal, Netflix, Paramount Global, Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Company, and Warner Bros. Discovery.
The 10 distributors tracked, combined, released 350 films in 2022. Of those 350 films, 100 (28.5%) included an LGBTQ character.
This is the highest number and percentage recorded in the 11 years GLAAD has conducted this study, though it must be considered with the context that the number of films tracked has exponentially increased this year under new methodology.
Over half (57%) of LGBTQ characters clocked in at under five minutes of screen time.
GLAAD counted 292 LGBTQ characters across the 100 LGBTQ-inclusive films. Of those characters, 117 (40%) are characters of color. While LGBTQ characters increased in films over the previous year, the number of LGBTQ characters of colorremained static (39% or 11 of 28 in 2021 films)
Of the 292 LGBTQ characters counted, 163 of them were men, 119 were women, and 10 were nonbinary. Seven of the women characters and six of the men characters were transgender.
21 of the 100 inclusive films (21%) GLAAD counted included bisexual characters. This is up from two films in the previous index, though Gallup polling shows bisexual+ people make up 58% of the community.
12 of the 100 inclusive films (12%) GLAAD counted included transgender characters.
11 LGBTQ characters (4%) were counted with a disability.
Only one of those characters (<1% overall) portrayed someone living with HIV.
Progress and Benchmarks
89% of young LGBTQ people report that seeing LGBTQ inclusion in film and TV is one of the top factors in feeling positively about their identity, per 2022 research from The Trevor Project.
GLAAD's SRI issues grades to studios based on the quality, quantity and diversity of LGBTQ characters and stories. For the first time in this index's 11-year history, three studios received a GOOD rating in the same year: A24, NBCUniversal, and The Walt Disney Company.
This year's index yields a studio's first GOOD rating since 2019 and no studio has ever received an EXCELLENT rating.
77% of LGBTQ-inclusive films passed GLAAD's four-point Vito Russo Test.
GLAAD's Four-Point Vito Russo Test
Taking inspiration from the Bechdel Test, which examines the way women characters are portrayed and situated within a narrative, GLAAD developed its own set of criteria to analyze how LGBTQ characters are included in a film. The Vito Russo Test gets its name from celebrated film historian and GLAAD co-founder Vito Russo, whose book, The Celluloid Closet, remains the bedrock for analysis of early LGBTQ portrayals in Hollywood film.
This test remains an evaluation of the minimal representation expected,and also provides a
roadmap for a greater number of mainstream Hollywood films to reach and ultimately exceed.
Passing the Vito Russo Test is a first step, rather than the finish line.
The film must contain a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer.
That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity (i.e. they are comprised of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight/cisgender characters from one another).
The LGBTQ character must be tied to the plot in such a way that the character's removal would have a significant effect, meaning the character is not there to simply provide colorful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or set up a punchline. The character must matter.
The LGBTQ character's story must not be outwardly offensive (avoids defaulting to well-known tropes or stereotypes with no further development). In films with multiple LGBTQ characters, at least one character must pass this point for the film to pass the test.
LGBTQ Inclusion is Good for the Box Office
The GLAAD Media Institute (GMI) continues to serve as a unique center of excellence and a resource to the creative community and our partners at studio distributors and production companies. The GMI holds a unique position in the industry as a behind-the-scenes consulting partner and subject matter expert. The titles tracked in this study which were released theatrically, and that the GLAAD Media Institute directly consulted on, yielded a combined global box office of over $450 million. This kind of collaboration and cross-industry success is only made possible in a world where all parties in storytelling are fairly supported and all needs are met of those who participate in a title's success. The SRI's findings this year underscore the need for creatives to have their demands met by industry leaders so that work can begin again and so progress made in LGBTQ representation remains on track and future LGBTQ-inclusive projects proceed.
Political Giving to Anti-LGBTQ Politicians
In this year's index, GLAAD included a separate evaluation of actions with regards to a studio distributor and/or their parent company's support or harm to the LGBTQ community. While some studios and parent companies continued to donate to anti-LGBTQ politicians at negligible levels or not at all, parent companies NBCUniversal and The Walt Disney Company both contributed significant donations in 2022 to anti-LGBTQ lawmakers and committees in states that are increasingly hostile for LGBTQ people. These donations are a disappointing step from companies' who created outstanding LGBTQ stories. GLAAD's SRI recommends that these companies - and all corporations - reexamine political giving strategies to align with overall stated inclusion efforts and impactful storytelling.
Statement from GLAAD President & CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis
"At a time when the LGBTQ community is under unprecedented cultural and political attacks, it is more important than ever to hold film studios accountable for how our community is represented on-screen. The LGBTQ characters and stories found in this year's study would not exist without the work of talented writers, actors, directors, and crew on all levels and GLAAD firmly stands in solidarity with the SAG-AFTRA and the Writer's Guild of America WGA in their efforts and contributions to fair and accurate storytelling integral to the LGBTQ movement.
It is crucial that the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) reach a fair deal with striking writers and performers — that these talented creatives can return to work as soon as possible, so that the progress made in LGBTQ representation remains on track. LGBTQ stories told through film have a powerful and inextricable link to culture-change. With more people than ever now empowered to live authentically and openly, the cost of lost progress in LGBTQ representation on-screen means erasure. As the LGBTQ movement has always been, this is a fight and a demand to exist."
Statement from SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher
"Right now there's a very tiny but loud segment of our population that's hard at work spreading hate and fear while attempting to squash all storytelling that showcases the full, beautiful reality of the human experience. Seeing diverse representation on screen is vital for empowering everyone to embrace their authentic selves. Sadly, the longer the AMPTP companies keep the entertainment industry shut down by refusing to come back to the bargaining table, the more risk there is for disrupting the progress that's been made in terms of inclusive representation. Let's make a deal and end this stalemate so we can continue sharing diverse stories and create a more hopeful, empathetic society for today's young people."
Creating a Diverse, Fair and Accurate Representation in Hollywood
As consumers demand more diversity in films and new distribution channels expand, GLAAD is committed to meeting the industry in this moment of evolution by ensuring a pipeline of content, creators and accountability parallel the growing LGBTQ community:
The GLAAD List: GLAAD intends to continue the work embarked on with the creation of The GLAAD List, a curated list of the most promising unmade LGBTQ-inclusive scripts in Hollywood. The scripts on The GLAAD List represent the type of LGBTQ-inclusive stories that GLAAD would like to see studios producing on big and small screens to increase the presence of LGBTQ visibility in Hollywood. With the proper attention, and with the collaboration of the right directors and actors, these scripts show tremendous promise and should one day become films and series that will both entertain audiences and change hearts and minds around the world.
GLAAD's Black Queer Creative Summit: The inaugural summit, powered by Gilead Sciences, launches today to help fill both an acceptance gap for LGBTQ people, and an opportunity gap for Black queer creatives across industries. This vehicle for educating, empowering, and training of emerging Black LGBTQ creatives comes at a time of reckoning in Hollywood where a more robust pipeline of talent is meeting the demand for a more equitable future for all.
GLAAD's Spirit Day — on October 19 — celebrates its 12th year of creating impact for LGBTQ youth, as the world's most visible anti-bullying campaign. Once again this year, GLAAD will organize thousands of celebrities, influential voices, news & media outlets, tv & film studios, brands & corporations, landmarks, sports leagues, tech leaders, influencers, faith groups and so many more to go purple and support LGBTQ youth by creating clear possibility models for them to thrive and be represented in the world.
Continued growth of The GLAAD's Media Institute (GMI): GLAAD's in-house subject matter experts, covering all areas of media and entertainment, will continue to meet the needs of an ever-expanding media landscape to ensure LGBTQ people are fairly and accurately represented. Whether it's widening the scope of a research study to better quantify LGBTQ visibility and consumer behaviors, providing feedback on scripts and casting, to providing training and consulting for individuals or companies to equip them to take a stand for equality, the GMI
GLAAD's annual Where We Are on TV Report: This report not only propels national conversations about LGBTQ representation, but informs GLAAD's own advocacy within the television industry. GLAAD uses this yearly data to create a clearer picture of the stories and images being presented by television networks, and to work alongside the networks and content creators to tell fair, accurate, and inclusive LGBTQ stories on screen.
Read the full report including scores by studio: GLAAD.org/SRI .
For this year's Studio Responsibility Index, GLAAD centered its research and analysis on ten studio distributors including any subsidiary distribution labels and majority owned streaming services, which were chosen based on a combination of theatrical box office grosses, Nielsen rankings, cultural and media recognition factors, and breadth of original programming. This index examines films released in the 2022 calendar year (Jan 1 - Dec 31) in the U.S. which were distributed under official studio banners and imprints as reported by Box Office Mojo, the studios and their official channels, and other relevant entertainment reporting sources. See GLAAD's full explanation of methodology included in the index.
About GLAAD: GLAAD rewrites the script for LGBTQ acceptance. As a dynamic media force, GLAAD tackles tough issues to shape the narrative and provoke dialogue that leads to cultural change. GLAAD protects all that has been accomplished and creates a world where everyone can live the life they love. For more information, please visit www.glaad.org or connect with GLAAD on Facebook and Twitter.
About the GLAAD Media Institute: The GLAAD Media Institute provides training, consultation, and actionable research to develop an army of social justice ambassadors for all marginalized communities to champion acceptance and amplify media impact. GLAAD's Studio Responsibility Index was launched in 2013 after seeing the progress driven by the organization's work and research in LGBTQ storytelling on television. Earlier versions, along with the GLAAD research library can be found at GLAAD.org/SRI.