Queer film and television programs took a hit during COVID-19. (Photo Credit: alexlmx via Adobe Stock)

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation’s (GLAAD) released their ninth annual Studio Responsibility Index (SRI) last week. The report focused on films released in 2019 (because 2020 was not viewed as a full year of production as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic) by the film studios Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, STX Films, United Artists Releasing, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros. Despite COVID-19 media restrictions, queer female-identified characters conquered the screen, outnumbering queer male-identified characters for the first time since the SRI was established. 

Unfortunately, for the fourth year running, no film or television series portrayed an LGBTQ person with disabilities, a nonbinary person, a person living with HIV/AIDS or a transgender man or woman. There was, however, a significant increase in BIPOC characters with 40 percent of LGBTQ characters being Black, Indigenous, LatinX or Asian. 

“As the industry looks towards a changing future, it is clear that LGBTQ characters need to be part of stories across all platforms of distribution,” GLAAD’s Director of Entertainment Research, Megan Townsend, says, “and prioritizing offering fan engagement experiences provides even greater opportunity for representation and inclusion.” 

Forbes conducted a study on the film industry in 2020, as movie theatres, box offices and DVD releases took a hit during COVID-19. With more streaming services being offered, and being purchased, 2020 saw a major increase in at-home movie marathons and a decline in television shows being produced, live theatre being performed and physical Blu-Ray being rented.

The lack of original shows means that services like Netflix are not putting out as many new series as they have in the past. According to Forbes, Netflix original series have dropped by 12 percent in the past year. 

Shows like “Orange is the New Black,” Sense8,” One Day at a Time” and “Queer Eye” have paved the way for the inclusion of main and supporting LGBTQ characters in every genre. Of representation in television shows, Townsend told NBC News, “Some studios may go from worse to doing better or vice versa, whereas with TV, we’ve seen much more of that continued forward march with the quality, quantity and diversity of LGBTQ characters consistently improving year to year.” 

COVID-19 may have impacted the number of TV series released, but Forbes’ study shows that television remains the most viewed of the primary visual forms of entertainment, where 62 percent of the average person’s screen time is spent watching television series.

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