Queer visibility in 2017 films less than 1 percent, USC study says

Queer characters 2017 filmsHow pathetic is this? Less than 1 percent of all speaking roles in the 100 top-grossing films of 2017 featured LGBTQ characters, according to a new  study from the USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

That figure was a drop from last year’s meager findings of 1.1 percent representation of LGBT people in 2016’s movies.


Despite highly publicized rhetoric about inclusion and increased diversity in the film industry, the study shows this fanfare is not backed up by numbers.

“Those expecting a banner year for inclusion will be disappointed,” Stacy L. Smith, founding director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, said in a statement. “Hollywood has yet to move from talking about inclusion to meaningfully increasing on-screen representation for women, people of color, the LGBT community, or individuals with disabilities.”

Entitled “Inequality in 1,100 Popular Films,” the report examines the 100 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2017. It evaluates the on-screen prevalence of underrepresented and marginalized groups including women, people of color, those withing the LGBTQ community, and people with disabilities.

For the past two years, queer characters were the least represented group on the silver screen.

In May, GLAAD released a study that found queer character visibility in 109 films released by major studios in 2017 was abysmal, dropping to its lowest level in six years, and none of those movies included a transgender character.


  • In 2017, 81 of the 100 top-grossing films features had no lesbian, gay, or bisexual visibility
  • Of the 31 LGB characters represented, 68 percent were white
  • Only one transgender character appeared in 400 films from 2014 to 2017
  • In 2017, 43 films did not include African American female characters in 43 films
  • 65 movies were missing Asian or Asian American female characters
  • 64 films did not include Latinas
  • 78 movies omitted women with disabilities


The report also offers solutions including the addition of the much-talked about and Googled inclusion rider, which Smith introduced to the entertainment industry.

“The inclusion rider is an addendum to an actor/content creator’s contract that stipulates that stories and storytellers should look like the world we actually live in — not a small fraction of the talent pool,” according to the Inclusion Initiative. “It does this while also protecting story sovereignty.”

Good intentions are not enough to create change, said Smith, who also suggests setting target inclusion goals, making policy changes, and adding female characters to reach a 50-50 ratio of men to women by 2020.

“Hollywood needs tangible, actionable solutions that will usher in real transformation. Our work brings to light the steps that companies and individuals can take if they want to see results.”

About the author

Beatriz E. Valenzuela

Beatriz E. Valenzuela is an award-winning journalist who’s covered breaking news in Southern California since 2006 and has been on the front lines of national and international news events. She also covers all things nerd, including comic book culture and video games. She’s an amateur obstacle course racer, constant fact-checker, mother of three, and lover of all things geek.

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