Equity gaps in Hollywood 

By Karissa Gaughan – 1851 Contributor

Hollywood’s long standing issues of equity and inclusion have extended past the conversations of race, ethnicity, sex and gender, and continues to infect improvement of LGBTQ+ representation in media. Hollywood’s Diversity report conducted by researchers at UCLA came out showing audiences favored shows that reflected different backgrounds and experiences that resonated more with them. 

According to GLAAD in their 2020 to 2021 report, almost every one in five LGBTQ characters appearing on a series is tied to just one of four producers/writers; Shonda Rhimes, Greg Berlanti, Lena Waithe, or Ryan Murphy. GLAAD, being a leader organization in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender media advocacy, has helped to change the culture of our media and its narrative. 

Lena Waithe and Shonda Rhimes are both Black cis women, while Greg Berlanti and Ryan Murphy are both white cis gay men. Lena Waithe is a masculine-presenting lesbian. It’s well known in Hollywood that these four producers are responsible for the majority of LGBTQ+ representation in the media today. “The only way you really see change is by helping to create it,” Lena Waithe has stated. 

Greg Berlantis said, ”I think in television there is more of an awareness about a need for more diversity, but there still needs to be great practical strides taken to improve diversity in front of and behind the camera.” 

In 2014, Rhimes responded to audience intolerance of gay scenes stating, “there are no gay scenes, just scenes with people in them.” This was the tone she’d set for many of her top productions, including “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How To Get Away With Murder;” all including LBGTQ representation. “Glee,” produced by Ryan Murphy in 2009, has helped pave the way for serious representation of gay characters as well. 

GLAAD’s annual report also stated for the first time in five years, LGBTQ representation has fallen from 10.2% to 9.1%. However, over half of the LGBTQ characters on cable television are people of color, meeting the organization’s challenge towards one of their racial gaps. 

“I don’t understand why people don’t understand that the world of TV should look like the world outside of TV,” stated Rhimes, who just premiered her new series “Bridgerton” on December 25. This proved to be a new diverse show on Netflix. Ryan Murphy, famously known for his work on “American Horror Story,” also released “Pose,” shot in New York City. The show, nominated by The Golden Globe Awards, also features the largest cast of recurring LGBTQ actors ever for a scripted series.

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