Movies lag behind TV in showing gays, lesbians

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Movies lag behind TV in showing gays, lesbians

NEW YORK - More prominent gay and lesbian characters may be appearing on TV shows, but the movie industry lags well behind the small screen, an advocacy group reports.

In its first study of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender roles in major studio releases, the organization formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation found that compared with TV, where there has been a significant shift over the past decade, “Major studios appear reluctant to include LGBT characters in significant roles or franchises.”

In its report released Wednesday, GLAAD found that of 101 releases from Hollywood’s six major studios in 2012, just 14 included characters identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Most were no more than cameos or minor roles, it said - and none of the films tracked had transgender characters.

“Until LGBT characters appear more regularly in these studio films, there will be the appearance of bias,” said Wilson Cruz, GLAAD’s national spokesperson, in an interview. He added that his organization will be meeting with studio executives to discuss the findings.

There were some bright spots in 2012, and some more ambiguous ones, the group said. For example, “Skyfall,” the hugely successful installment of the James Bond franchise, featured a main villain, played by Javier Bardem, who was apparently bisexual.

“It was great to see an LGBT character in such a significant role,” said Matt Kane, associate director of entertainment media at GLAAD, also in an interview. “But unfortunately the character was also devious, psychotic, and untrustworthy - it fell into that trap.”

As genre films like comic book adaptations consume much of the studios’ capital and promotional efforts, the report says, such films have a striking lack of LGBT characters.

In “The Avengers,” it notes, there is a gay news anchor, but his appearance is “so brief it was likely missed by many viewers.”

The report - called the 2013 Studio Responsibility Index - rates each of the six studios according to the LGBT-inclusive films they released. Faring worst: 20th Century Fox and Disney, which each receive “failing” grades; the other four - Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. - receive grades of “adequate.” But Universal fared best, with four of its 16 releases considered LGBT-inclusive.

Studios had no comment on the study as of Wednesday afternoon.

As part of its index, GLAAD also developed criteria to measure the quality of the LGBT roles. They included: whether a character was identifiably LGBT; whether it was not solely or predominantly defined by its sexual orientation or gender identity; and whether it was tied into the plot in such a way that its removal would have a significant effect.

“Over the years we have met with studios, and it’s always a point we make,” Kane said. “Now, we have the numbers to take to them.” AP
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