LGBTQ Characters Invisible on Spanish-Language Television

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If you grew up an LGBTQ kid in the ‘90s, like I did, than you probably remember how little you saw yourself on television back then versus how much representation lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer characters have today. From Stephanie Beatriz’s Rosa Diaz on Brooklyn 99 recently coming out as bi to Sara Ramirez’s long-standing bisexual Dr. Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy (who was married to a woman and left the show to pursue a relationship with her girlfriend), representation is more prevalent than ever. While we can celebrate some advance in seeing ourselves represented on TV, the numbers drastically decline when we’re talking about Spanish-language television.

According to a new study by GLADD, only three percent of characters on scripted primetime Spanish-language television were LGBTQ. That’s only 19 out of 698 characters with 13 of them being men and a whopping 30 percent of those characters being killed off.

The report, which is titled “Still Invisible” and co-authored by Monica Trasandes, the director of Spanish-language and Latinx media and representation at GLADD, and Janet Quezada, a campaign manager at the organization, took a look at Univision, UniMás and Telemundo and noted that the statistics were the same last the previous year. Basically, there has been no advancement whatsoever in representation.

The good news, if we can call it that, is that GLADD is committed to improving the situation for LGBTQ representation in Spanish-language media. They have started the #PantallaInclusiva campaign with the help of bisexual actress Sara Ramirez, who created a video for the campaign and is calling for more diverse representation.

“It would have meant so much to me growing up if my family and I could have seen meaningful LGBTQ stories together, especially in Spanish—one of the languages we often spoke at home,” she says in the video. “We need more inclusive representation of LGBTQ Latinx and Hispanic people that goes beyond outdated stereotypes and reflects the world we live in. And we need it on Spanish-language and English-language television.”

As an LGBTQ Latinx person myself, I deeply relate to Sara’s message of inclusivity. Perhaps if my family had seen LGBTQ characters growing up, then it wouldn’t have been so difficult for me to come out. And it seems that I am not the only one grateful for the #PantallaInclusiva campaign:

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