ABC tops the list as the most gay-friendly television network, a new study revealed.
And while Christians are concerned over the rise in homosexual content on prime-time TV, a prominent gay rights group says there's still work to be done to get more lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people on the airwaves.
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) released this week its first-ever report that rates the quantity, quality and diversity of images of LGBT people on five major broadcast networks on an "excellent-good-fair-failing" scale.
After examining nearly 5,000 hours of primetime programming in the past year, GLAAD gave ABC the highest score with a grade of "Good." The report – "GLAAD Network Responsibility Index" – found 15 percent of ABC's primetime programming hours inclusive of LGBT representations.
ABC shows such as "Ugly Betty" and "Brothers & Sisters" featured more regular characters who are gay, lesbian or transgender compared to other major broadcasters. Most recently, the popular series "Ugly Betty" added to its cast actress Rebecca Romijn to play Alex "Alexis" Meade, a transwoman. Romjin is the first series regular transgender on a network comedy, according to GLAAD.
"While we have made great strides in the ten years since Ellen DeGeneres came out on television, this report shows where work still needs to be done and which networks are failing to represent millions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender viewers," said GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano in the report. "The airwaves quite literally belong to each and every one of us, and, as such, networks have an obligation to reflect the faces and stories of their viewers."
DeGeneres came out of the closet in 1997 on ABC sitcom "Ellen." She was the first openly gay lead character on prime-time television.
Following ABC, freshman network The CW was rated "Fair" with 12 percent of its programming hours being LGBT inclusive. The youth-oriented CW was formed from the merger of The WB and UPN networks. Nearly all of the gay-inclusive content came from the network's reality contest show "America's Next Top Model."
CBS – the nation's most watched network – and NBC also received a "Fair" grade for their 9 percent and 7 percent, respectively, of LGBT-inclusive programming hours.
And FOX, the most watched network among young adult viewers, received a "Failing" grade for its 6 percent of LGBT-inclusive programming hours. After learning of the 2007-2008 shows to be aired on FOX, GLAAD expects no increase in LGBT content.
Among general entertainment cable networks, GLAAD reported that Bravo is perhaps the most LGBT-inclusive with such shows as "Queer Eye," "Boy Meets Boy," and "Project Runway."
The GLAAD report noted that "the power of the broadcast medium to shape culture and collective consciousness is indisputable" and that "true equality" can be achieved through accurate LGBT representations on network television.
Concerned individuals have expressed their opposition to the normalization of homosexuality and – more recently - transgenderism through the media.
Dr. Robert A.J. Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, for one, has expressed concern and said there's no question that the LGBT community is trying to normalize their movement with some mainstream media trying to justify the movement in the name of compassion.
Furthermore, Gagnon sees the transgender issue emerging on the same path that homosexuality has through the media.
“Initially, for example, even [Congressman] Barney Frank said with regard to hate crime legislation and employment non-discrimination legislation, the transgender community would have to forget about that including them because America was never going to accept that. They were just going to work on getting approval for gays and lesbians,” the professor said in an interview with The Christian Post in June. “But now that’s changed because the culture has changed and now they’re going to try to get in the transgender too.
“It’s always been pushing for the homosexual agenda with the attempt to eventually – once they get that accepted – move into the acceptance of bisexuality and transgenderism,” he added.
For the landmark GLAAD report, primetime programming on the five major broadcast networks were examined from June 1, 2006 to May 31, 2007. GLAAD will issue its 12th Annual "Where We Are On TV" diversity report, which examines LGBT inclusion in the upcoming television season, in September.