Teens, superheroes lead charge in LGBTQ Hollywood movie characters

by Reuters
Thursday, 23 May 2019 14:00 GMT

91st Academy Awards - Oscars Show - Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., February 24, 2019. Rami Malek reacts while holding his Oscar after accepting the Best Actor award for his role in "Bohemian Rhapsody". REUTERS/Mike Blake

Image Caption and Rights Information
Films like Bohemian Rhapsody and Love, Simon helped increase the numbers of gay and bisexual characters in Hollywood last year

By Jill Serjeant

LOS ANGELES, May 23 (Reuters) - Movies like "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Love, Simon" and "Deadpool 2" helped increase the numbers of gay and bisexual characters in Hollywood movies last year.

But a study by lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning and/or queer (LGBTQ) advocacy group GLAAD on Thursday found that transgender characters were entirely absent from films released in 2018 for the second year in a row.

The GLAAD report found that of the 110 releases from the seven largest Hollywood studios, 20 included LGBTQ characters. That marked an increase from 2017 and the second-highest percentage of inclusive films in the seven-year history of the annual GLAAD report.

Yet more than half the LGBTQ characters had less than 3 minutes of screen time, and there also was not a single animated or family film that included an LGBTQ character.

"Bohemian Rhapsody," which brought Rami Malek a best actor Oscar for his performance as the late bisexual Queen singer Freddie Mercury, "Deadpool 2," with the first openly lesbian superhero movie characters, and teen comedy "Blockers," featuring a teen girl with a crush on another girl, all proved box office hits last year.

"While the film industry should include more stories of LGBTQ people of color and transgender people, studios are finally addressing the calls from LGBTQ people and allies around the world who want to see more diversity in films," GLAAD Chief Executive Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.

Upcoming movies include the musical biopic "Rocketman," about gay icon Elton John, and high school comedy "Booksmart," which has a lesbian lead character.

Yet the GLAAD report said the movie industry lags television, which last year broadcast shows like "Pose," about 1980s New York drag culture, and "Supergirl," which has a transgender superhero.

The report also expressed "real concern" over Walt Disney Co's acquisition earlier this year of 21st Century Fox, particularly since it said that none of the 10 films released by Disney in 2018 had any gay characters. Fox 2000 Pictures, the production company behind critically acclaimed gay teen romance "Love, Simon," is to be shuttered by Disney later this year.

"Studios may be more hesitant to invest in new types of content, and decisions on what gets green-lit and who is involved are made by smaller groups of people," Ellis said.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant in Los Angeles Editing by Matthew Lewis)

Openly is an initiative of the Thomson Reuters Foundation dedicated to impartial coverage of LGBT+ issues from around the world.

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.