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GLAAD calls for LGBT characters in 20% of movies by 2021

GLAAD called on Hollywood to have 20% of annual film releases include a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or gender fluid character by 2021.

FILE: The rainbow flag, a symbol of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Picture: Pixabay.com

LOS ANGELES - Romance Call Me By Your Name may have won a screenplay Oscar, and Disney’s family-friendly Beauty and the Beast had a gay character, but movies from Hollywood’s major studios last year had the lowest percentage of lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual characters since 2012, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Gay and transgender media advocacy group GLAAD said in its annual Studio Responsibility Index that of the 109 releases by the seven largest movie studios in 2017, just 14, or 12.8%, included LGBTQ characters.

GLAAD called on Hollywood to have 20% of annual film releases include a gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or gender fluid character by 2021, rising to 50% of output by 2024.

Box office hits like Wonder Woman and Black Panther have smashed old Hollywood notions that movies that champion women and people of colour do not have global appeal, GLAAD said.

“It is time for LGBTQ stories to be included in this conversation,” GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis said in the report.

GLAAD praised movies like tennis film Battle of the Sexes, Oscar best picture winner The Shape of Water and independent transgender tale A Fantastic Woman from Chile that won the best foreign language Oscar in March.

But it gave the thumbs-down to Thor: Ragnarok for deleting references to two characters who are bisexual or queer in the original Marvel comic book source material, criticised Baywatch for its “many jokes relying on gay panic for cheap laughs,” and said Pitch Perfect 3 sidelined a lesbian character.

Despite the slide in LGBTQ characters in 2017, GLAAD said 2018 had already shown welcome progress, with movies like gay young adult film Love, Simon and the raunchy teen comedy Blockers.

The report expressed hope for upcoming films, such as musical Mamma Mia 2, where GLAAD said it would like to see Colin Firth’s gay character further explored, and The Girl in the Spider’s Web, where lead character Lisbeth Salander is bisexual in the original Stieg Larsson novel.

As for Bohemian Rhapsody, the upcoming biopic about Queen singer Freddie Mercury who died in 1991 of AIDS complications, GLAAD said it hoped the film would “make a powerful impact by fully exploring his queer identity.”

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