Skip To Content
  • Best Entertainment 2014 badge

LGBT TV Characters Are Whiter, Male-er, And Richer Than Real Queer People

LGBT characters on broadcast television in 2014 weren't as diverse as real queer people in the U.S.

Though LGBT people are becoming more and more visible in mainstream culture, queer characters on broadcast TV (some of the most accessible images of LGBT people) aren’t offering a truly representative picture.

ABC / Via

Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee) on ABC's How to Get Away With Murder

Of the 63 explicitly LGBT main or recurring characters BuzzFeed identified on primetime broadcast shows in 2014, 29 were gay white males: That's 46% gay white men vs. 54% everyone else.


Captain Ray Holt (Andre Braugher) on Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Cam Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) on Modern Family

More than half of broadcast LGBT characters (35 of 63, or 56%) were men.

FOX / Via

Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) on Glee

In reality, as Pew reports, about half of LGBT Americans are women.

ABC / Via

Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) on Grey's Anatomy

I mean, duh.

Only 17 of these characters — about one in four — were people of color.

CBS / Via

Kalinda Sharma (Archie Panjabi) in The Good Wife

In the real world, one in three LGBT Americans is a person of color.


Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) on Grey's Anatomy; Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) on Modern Family; Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) on Glee

According to UCLA's Williams Institute, LGBT Americans are more likely to live in poverty than straight Americans. But you certainly wouldn't know that from TV!

FOX / Via

Lesbian Patty Bouvier and her sister Selma (both voiced by Julie Kavner) on The Simpsons

Granted, lots of TV characters skew rich. But images of rich straight people aren't reinforcing a stereotype (namely, that a rich gay urban white man is the "typical" LGBT person).

And lastly, of these LGBT characters, only one was transgender. (Thank goodness for Netflix.)

Netflix / Via

Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox) on Orange Is the New Black

Do better, 2015. That is all.

Note: This SMH session made possible by assistance from a GLAAD staffer and their Where We Are on TV diversity report.

As reader lissa pointed out on Twitter, Unique (Alex Newell) was an important black transgender character on Glee in 2014. The numbers above have been changed to reflect the inclusion of this new character.