GLAAD Study: Few LGBTQ Characters in U.S. Spanish-Language TV

Cynthia Littleton

LGBTQ characters have scant representation in scripted programs airing on the major U.S. Spanish-language TV outlets, according to a new study by GLAAD.

The LGBTQ advocacy org found that only 3% of characters were identifiable as LGBTQ, and most of them were not primary characters. The study examined scripted series airing between 7-11 p.m. on Univision, Telemundo and MundoMax from July 1, 2015 through June 30.

Of the 516 characters featured, 10 were gay men and two were bisexual. Only one program featured a lesbian and only one program featured a transgender character.

GLAAD execs said the paltry representation does not reflect the reality of the U.S. Latino population (the GLAAD report uses the gender neutral “Latinx” terminology). The study also cited poll data indicating that attitudes toward the LGBTQ community are changing among U.S. Latinos, with 74% supporting anti-discrimination laws and 56% of Latino Catholics supporting same-sex marriage.

“The majority of scripted programming on Spanish-language television in the United States does not appropriately represent the LGBTQ Latinx experience,” said Monica Trasandes, director of Spanish-language and Latinx Media at GLAAD. “Spanish-language media content creators and executives have an opportunity to tell stories that connect with a rich, diverse and complex region and its diasporas by writing non-stereotypical characters and storylines that include people of various racial and ethnic ancestry, sexual orientations, gender identities, and disabilities. This report shows that Spanish-language media makers have not yet lived up to the promise of full inclusion but it is our hope they will soon. It’s good for business and it’s very good for our society.”

The report notes that LGBTQ characters tend to be stereotypical “gossipy best friends.” The bisexual characters were sexually voracious. And some telenovelas produced in Brazil include storylines that involve gay men becoming heterosexual after falling in love with a woman.

“We hope these trends are countered by the creation of more Latinx and diverse LGBTQ characters on the novelas written in the U.S., Mexico, and Latin America,” the study states. “Audiences have grown tired of stereotyped characters and the dearth of romantic and realistic stories for LGBTQ characters.”

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