In 2014–15, the University of California conducted a study of movies — plus broadcast, cable, and digital series — and found only 2% out of 11,194 speaking characters were lesbian, gay, or bisexual.
The LGBT films that do exist are often comedies, and do not feature healthy relationships or depict same-sex parents.
So BuzzFeed teamed up with Sherbet Birdie, Audrey & Him, and The Wardrobe, got a group of LGBT people together, and recreated some nostalgic films. Only this time, our LGBT stars were in the limelight.
Tania Safi (Edward Scissorhands): "I am such a sucker for film and all kinds of romance in cinema, so I do find heteroromantic movies relatable. But there's nothing like watching two women fall in love on screen. I am able to feel what they feel, connect to their ups and downs, and indulge in their experiences as if it were happening to me. It's really a breath of fresh air."
"Today was just a dream come true!"
Jemima Skelley (Kim): "If there is a femme lesbian in a film who likes to wear makeup and dresses, they're usually bi or they're just a college girl 'going through a phase.' This makes me feel pretty crappy to be honest, it's like I'm being told that I'm not a ~real~ lesbian."
Kael Murray (Daisy Buchanan): "I have seen some terrible films and only because there was one single LGBT person in them. It'd be nice to live in a time where LGBT representation was on par with hetero representation in mainstream cinema! I think that time will come, though."
Anna Boydell (Jack Dawson): "In most lesbian films, being gay is usually a struggle and the resolution is typically ending up with a man. I'd love to see a film where being gay is just one aspect of their character, not the entire spotlight of the film. And where a man doesn't need to save her from a life of 'lesbian struggle.'"
Corinne Goode (Rose DeWitt Bukater): "Seeing a queer character on screen is a unicorn moment. My wife and I always excitedly nudge each other in the cinema with a 'it's one of us' expression."
"My wife is a huge romantic film buff so it was such a cool experience to recreate the Titanic flying scene with her. It was nice to indulge in the fantasy that this film could have a equally strong love story if it was based on two women."
Brad Martin (Edward Cullen): "As a white cis-gendered man, I am probably represented a lot more than other people from my community. But quite often the gay role is relegated to a background role, a side kick, a comic relief rather than an actual fleshed-out, three-dimensional character."
Gary Paramanathan (Edward Lewis): "All I recall from the films I watched growing up are LGBT caricatures, comedians acting up gay characters. We weren't real people capable of love; at best we were supportive sidekicks. And the LGBT films that do exist are all about white people, and predominantly young gay white butch men."
Jerico Mandybur (Vivian Ward): "As a bisexual person (with mixed heritage) I rarely see myself represented in mainstream culture. My experience is largely that of bisexual erasure when it comes to representation in film, or if they exist, they are either framed as promiscuous and reckless or erotic and fluid. Rarely are they framed as regular people with jobs and mortgages. Bisexual characters are usually the ones who come into a story to cause trouble."
Sonia Tsai (Danny): "I was nervous at first but then really got into it. I really tried to channel the sleaziness of John Travolta, but not sure I did his thrusty hips justice."
Makayla Otford (Sandy): "Netflix needs to get their shit together! Have you seen their options? It's laughable."
Kadeem Alphanso (Romeo): "There is very little evidence of 'black gay men' in mainstream media. Frequently if there is a black gay character, he is hyper-feminine and made into a caricature. Always the flamboyant, ghetto, finger-snapping, vogueing queen. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this type of Queen — but it would be nice to see more variety in the way being 'black' and 'gay' are shown in mainstream media."
Hilary Conroy (Frances Baby Houseman): "As a bi person dating a trans person, I rarely see my identity represented in mainstream cinema in a realistic and positive way. The lack of representation of people like myself and my partner can feel somewhat isolating."
"Dressing up and recreating Dirty Dancing was so fun. I also particularly enjoyed the role-reversed lift. My partner is a babe and could give Swayze a run for his money any day."
Jax Wearing (Johnny Castle): "As a transgendered person, I have not seen my identity represented in mainstream media but for being presented as a joke or a freak. LGBT films recognise me and give me a place in the world. This is so critical, especially to young people growing up who may be struggling with their diversity."
"Our LGBT crowd is beautiful and strong and unique. There is so much to experience by us being a part of these types of projects that likely show us off to the mainstream."
Samuel Leighton-Dore (Allie Hamilton): "As a gay man, I definitely feel there are representations of my identity reflected in cinema (though perhaps not mainstream), however they often arrive in the form of composite characters with no real nuance, depth, or originality."
"If I could, I'd create a world where LGBT stories weren't so defined by adversity, pain and struggle; where queer filmmakers had the confidence to explore the subtler sides of sexuality in an optimistic light, in a way that celebrated the commonality of love."