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GLAAD report: Last year’s movies failed to include enough queer people of color

by Ace Damon

Last year, not a single major studio film included a transsexual character, according to GLAAD. On Thursday morning, the LGBTQ media advocacy organization released its annual report on the inclusion of LGBTQ in major studio films.

After analyzing the 118 films released in 2019 by the top eight studios (Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, STX Films, United Artists Releasing, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Bros.), the organization found that the percentage of LGBTQ characters of color has dropped dramatically for the second consecutive year.

“America’s biggest cultural exports are our films,” GLAAD president Sarah Kate Ellis told The Times. “And we have the ability to enter markets and countries where it is still illegal to be LGBTQ and tell LGBTQ stories from Hollywood. And therefore, this is one missed opportunity after another. “

Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or gay remains illegal in 70 countries around the world, even when a modern civil rights movement is in the midst of go global.

“We are at this very necessary and very necessary moment and movement of Black Lives Matter,” said Ellis. “And it reached a crescendo. … It’s time to tell stories of colorful people, queer and cis.

Television shows like the innovative “Pose” by FX and documentaries like “Disclosure” on Netflix have resumed this trend, especially as black transsexual women in particular become a focus of the movement. But the film industry has not followed suit.

“We absolutely need trans stories told, and the bigger the screen, the more powerful it can be,” said Ellis.

“We know about 20% of Americans know someone who is trans, “she continued.“ So, 80% of Americans are getting their interpretation, experience, connection with trans people through films, television and media. That’s why it’s so important that they are being represented in the mainstream [studio] movies. ”

GLAAD recorded zero transgender characters featured by major studios between 2017 and 2019. Although some transgender and / or non-binary actors have appeared in releases (think: Indya Moore in Universal’s “Queen & Slim” and Trace Lysette in “Hustlers” , from STX), none of his characters explicitly received these identities.

The only non-binary character recorded in the previous year, in 2016 (All in “Zoolander 2”), was used only as a final argument.

Examining the centrality of LGBTQ characters in the plot of a film presents another important argument: in 2019, more than half (56%) of all LGBTQ characters had less than three minutes of screen time. The majority (42%) appeared on the screen for less than a minute.

Although GLAAD hinted at “Avengers: Endgame” and “Toy Story 4” for representing brief glimpses of strange characters in everyday life, the report praised films like “Booksmart” and “Rocketman” as examples of weaving gay and lesbian identities in narrative.

Taron Egerton plays Elton John – an openly gay protagonist – in Paramount Pictures’ “Rocketman”.

(Paramount movies)

As Ellis said: “People who have less visibility … in our community, in this country, their voice and who they are are often defined by Hollywood. And then [film is] a very powerful tool to help educate, inform and bring reality to who LGBTQ people are. “

Only this year, the report linked to another underrepresented identity: the disability status of LGBTQ characters. Of the total of 50 queer characters counted, only one had a disability (Poe in Lionsgate’s “Five Feet Apart”). But following is the beginning, said Megan Townsend, director of research and entertainment analysis at GLAAD.

“There is a significant and definitive overlap between LGBTQ people and people who also have a disability,” she said. “So, we really wanted to make sure that when we’re talking about the community, we also include everyone in the community.”

Overall, a small increase in the percentage of LGBTQ inclusive films has emerged: 18.6%, up from 18.2% in last year’s report. But the findings also look at future opportunities for major studios. Sony’s next release “Happiest season, ”A holiday romance about a lesbian couple, for Disney’s first gay superhero in“ The Eternals, ”Townsend is optimistic about the change in the movie scene.

“The best thing about the report is being able to define where everything is and making inclusion – in all its various forms – part of conscious thinking, so that people are aware of where we are and where we need to be. go, ”said Townsend. “But I think there are definitely a lot of opportunities ahead.”

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