With the release of critically acclaimed films like Call Me By Your Name and the recent Love, Simon, on the surface, it may seem like the film industry is finally moving toward more LGBTQ representation on-screen. But as it turns out, last year was even worse for LGBTQ representation — dropping to a record low.
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) just released the findings of its annual study on LGBTQ inclusion in film, revealing that 2017 was the worst year for inclusion in major studio films since the organization began tracking inclusion in 2012.
The study, GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index (SRI), examines seven major film studios collecting data on characters identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or queer, and according The Wrap, in 2017, it found that LBGTQ inclusion dropped a whopping 40% from its 2016 numbers. Out of a reported 109 major studio films, only 14 — an abysmal 23% — featured LGBTQ characters and zero featured a trans character.
Additionally, the SRI study includes a Vito Russo Test, a system inspired by the Bechdel test that measures the context in which LGBTQ characters are depicted — and of the 14 major studio films featuring LGBTQ characters, only nine passed.
Of the seven major studios studied, Universal scored the highest with two of its 14 films LGBTQ-inclusive, while Lionsgate scored the lowest with a two LGBTQ-inclusive film out of 19. Despite being the highest scoring studio, Universal still earned an “insufficient” grade, as did 20th Century Fox. Sony, Paramount, and Disney, which all came behind with a “poor” grade; Warner Brothers and Lionsgate earned “failing” grades.
While the study still tracks independent and “art house” films released by the studios’ independent labels and imprints, they don’t factor into the final numbers, which is why films like Call Me By Your Name and A Fantastic Woman weren’t included in Sony’s final grade (they were both released under Sony Picture Classics).
While it’s incredibly disappointing that major films studios included so few LGBTQ characters — and even fewer passing the Vito Russo Test — we’re hopeful that 2018 is a better year for inclusion and the years to come look even better.
In her note at the beginning of the findings report, GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis made a pointed call for the seven major film studios to do better, challenging them to “make sure that 20% of annual major studio releases include LGBTQ characters by 2021, and that 50% of films include LGBTQ characters by 2024.”
Considering creatives and executives involved with these major studios have talked a lot about being more LGBTQ-inclusive in recent years, we’re hoping they’ll finally start practicing what they preach.