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Annual survey finds LGBT characters still missing from Hollywood movies in 2013

Annual survey finds LGBT characters still missing from Hollywood movies in 2013

LAST UPDATED // Wednesday, 23 July 2014 15:45 Written by // Andrew Shaw

LGBT representation on TV is rising, but for the second year in a row gay men were underrepresented at the movies in 2013, and the rest of the LGBTI community was almost invisible.

The figures come from this year’s GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index, in which the LGBTI media monitor rates the visibility of LGBTI people on the silver screen.

The index shows that out of 102 releases by the seven major Hollywood studios in 2013, only 17 of them had LGBT characters.

More than half of the inclusive films (64.7%) featured gay male characters, while another 23.5 per cent featured lesbian characters, 17.7 per cent contained bisexual characters, and 11.8 per cent contained transgender female characters.

Male LGBT characters outnumbered female characters 64 per cent to 36 per cent.

GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz told The Backlot: “It’s 2014 and the information that the world is getting from our biggest export, which is entertainment, is that the LGBT community is just a bunch of white guys. And that’s not who we are. We are lesbians, we are bisexual, we are transgender, we are people of colour.”

The Studio Responsibility Index employs the Vito Russo Test, and to pass the test the following must be true about a film:

  • The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender;
  • That character must not be solely or predominantly defined by their sexual orientation or gender identity; i.e. they are made up of the same sort of unique character traits commonly used to differentiate straight characters from one another;
  • The LGBT 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 colourful commentary, paint urban authenticity, or (perhaps most commonly) set up a punch line. The character should “matter".


The 2013 film Broken City from 20th Century Fox passed the Vito Russo Test.

GLAAD found 7 of the 17 major studio films that included gay characters passed the Vito Russo Test this year, compared to 6 out of 14 inclusive films released in 2012.

“Clearly there is a lot of room for improvement in Hollywood film,” GLAAD stated in its report. “With this annual report, GLAAD will continue to track the industry’s progress.

“Anti-gay slurs are less common in film now than they were 20 years ago, but they are by no means extinct, and some are still used by characters the audience is meant to be rooting for.

"Perhaps even more prevalent are anti-transgender slurs, which in 2013 were used by main characters in films like Anchor Man 2 and Identity Thief for no reason other than to make a joke. With few exceptions, these words should be left on the cutting room floor.”

Read the full Studio Responsibility Index report here.


Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw

Andrew Shaw is editor of Queensland Pride.

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