Study finds only 19 gay characters on network TV this year, down from 23 last year

Fox has the most gay characters, thanks to shows like Glee.

FRAZIER MOORE | Associated Press

NEW YORK — The number of gay and bisexual characters on scripted broadcast network TV has dipped slightly this season to 19 out of nearly 650 roles, according to the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

The 16th annual “Where We Are on TV” report released Wednesday by GLAAD found that 2.9 percent of actors appearing regularly on prime-time network drama and comedy series in the 2011-12 season will portray gay, lesbian or bisexual characters.

That’s down from 3 percent in the 2009-10 season and 3.9 percent last season, when there were 23 out of a total of nearly 600 roles.

Only five of the 19 gay and lesbian characters this season are nonwhite, GLAAD found.

Using information provided by ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and CW, the group reviewed 91 scripted series announced to air this season.

Among broadcast series with gay and bisexual characters, GLAAD cited CBS’ The Good Wife, the CW’s Ringer and NBC’s The Playboy Club. Comedies include ABC’s Modern Family and Fox’s Glee.

Fox leads the networks in gay representation, with eight regular characters out of a total of 117.

The number of gay and bisexual characters on cable networks has also fallen slightly, from 35 last season to 29 in the upcoming season.

As it did last year, HBO has the greatest number of gay and bisexual characters, with 11 regular and recurring characters. Showtime is close behind with 10.

The HBO drama True Blood remains among the most inclusive series on television, featuring six characters, tied with the Showtime series Shameless, the group found.

Some of TV’s most popular shows “weave story lines about gay and lesbian characters into the fabric of the show,” said GLAAD acting President Mike Thompson. “Americans expect to see the diversity of our country represented in their favorite programs, and that includes gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.”

—  John Wright