Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Diversity in Entertainment: Experiences and Perspectives of SAG-AFTRA Members
By M.V. Lee Badgett, Jody L. Herman
Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) actors face continued discrimination, even as workplace opportunities and conditions improve. One-third of all survey respondents believed that casting directors, directors, and producers may be biased against LGBT performers, and more than half of LGB performers had heard anti-gay comments on set. Findings suggest LGBT performers may have substantial barriers to overcome in their search for jobs. Almost half of lesbian and gay (LG) respondents and 27 percent of bisexual respondents, for example, strongly agreed that producers and studio executives think LG performers are less marketable. Nine percent of LG respondents and four percent of bisexual respondents reported that they had been turned down for a role due to their sexual orientation. Further, LGBT respondents were less likely than non-LGBT respondents to have an agent, which may put them at a disadvantage when looking for work.
On the job, the report found:
• Over a third of LGBT performers had witnessed disrespectful treatment that has also been noticed by non-LGBT performers.
• Overall, 16% of LGBT respondents reported that they had experienced discrimination. Gay men were the most likely to report they have experienced some form of discrimination, with one in five reporting an experience. Bisexual actors were about half as likely to report discrimination as gay or lesbian actors.
• Gender nonconforming gay and bisexual men were more likely to experience discrimination, as were men who were out professionally.
The report finds that most heterosexual performers (29 percent) have never played an LG role over the course of their career, but 58 percent of LGB performers and 33 percent of bisexual performers have. Notably, respondents were less likely to have played a transgender role, with only 14 percent of LG performers and 8 percent of bisexual performers having played a transgender role; few non-LGBT performers (3 percent) have played a transgender role.