The LGBTIQ+ presence in Spanish audiovisuals is growing, but it is concentrated in a few productions

This last year, the LGBTIQ+ presence in Spanish cinema and series has grown both in percentage and in absolute numbers; from 83 characters, which meant 7.1% of the total, we now have 106, which they account for 9.3% of all the characters analyzed. That is, an increase of 2 percentage points becomes visible.

The most visible increase has been made in the cinema, that portrays 35 characters from the LGBTIQ+ collective compared to the very few 11 from the previous year. However, it must be said that this year we are once again faced with a polarized audiovisual industry, because in the cinema almost two thirds of these characters are found in just 3 movies (CUT! Polyamory for Beginners Y where two fit). Something that also happens on television, since almost half of the 71 characters (48%) in this report belong to only 6 series of the 43 analyzed (Elite, Everything Else, The Boarding School: Las Cumbres, El Pueblo, HIT Y Tell me how it happened)

These are the conclusions presented this Wednesday by the Observatory of Diversity in Audiovisual Media (ODA), in its third report about the projected image of LGBTIQ+ people in the audiovisual media. For its elaboration, both the presence of LGBTQI+ characters in Spanish fiction, specifically in the series and films of the year 2021, and that of racialized characters have been analyzed.

The study highlights that Most of these productions are aimed at a younger audience, which is beginning to demand more diverse content from the audiovisual industry. An interesting example of this is the series The Hustlers, where important issues for youth are discussed (such as mental health or emotional relationships) and quite diverse characters are portrayed. The remarkable thing is that everything is done from the point of view of adolescents.

More representation of all genders

The report also welcomes there are more proposals created and directed by women, especially in serial fiction. The female representation is once again less than the male in cinema, from the celebrated 52.5% presence last year, we went to 44.8% this year. As for the series, we never saw parity and we are a little further from achieving it, from 44.8% in 2020 we went to 44.2% this year. Although it could be better the presence of lesbian women in Spanish fiction has increasedrepresenting 25.7% of the LGBTIQ+ total.

The number of sapphic characters in productions increased, from 17 in 2020 to 26 this year. The growth was caused above all in cinema, with 9 representatives compared to only 3 last year. Something positive to highlight this year is that many of these characters are relevant in the productions. In cinema 5 out of 9 lesbians have their own plot, while in series they are 9 out of 15 in total.

On trans representation in the audiovisual world, the report highlights the great contribution of everything elsethat portrays the life of a trans woman outside of common stereotypes. In 2021 the 3 trans representations that we find in the cinema are interpreted by trans people. Something that does not happen in the case of the series, where only one of the 7 characters is trans, Dafne de everything else.

As for non-binary characters, the percentage of representation grows when focusing on the main characters. When an LGBTIQ+ character is introduced, it is to give it weight in the plot and explore its narrative possibilities: 12.2% of the main characters are LGBTIQ+ in movies and 16.4% in series.

For the first time bisexual representation numbers are similar to gay representation. Of the analyzed characters, 38 are identifiable as bisexual, 14 appear in the cinema and 24 in series. The female presence continues to predominate, concentrating the rise with 26 characters from the 17 last year. The hypersexualization of women and the stereotypes of promiscuity are still very present in the creation of these characters.

As negative data, the report highlights the lack of trans male representationwith a single character, Rober in Paco’s men, who is played by a cisgender person. And that there are no asexual characters yet despite the fact that it is a trend that is settling in other parts of the world.

The power of audiovisual to change things

Jorge Gonzalo President and CEO highlights: “In these times we live in, we are astonished to see how diversity is used politically as a bargaining chip instead of being treated as human rights. We see how Hungary continues with its anti-LGBTIQ+ policy within the European Union, Russia provokes wars that already make its continuous and brutal attacks on human rights within its borders seem less worrying, the United States travels to the past with its laws on abortion and we cannot stop thinking that all this has an effect on the audiovisual that we consume. The big question is: is it the audiovisual that reflects these changes or is it part of the generator? Therefore, the analysis work is increasingly important.

“If from fiction we get a diverse character to reach any viewer, including those who do not understand the problems associated with not belonging to the norm, we are adding a brick to that bridge. The dailyization of diversity is vital to break the polarization and, to achieve this, the power of the audiovisual is evident” -adds Jorge-.

The report also studies characters with disabilities. Representation increased in 2021: de 25 characters with disabilities in 2020, we will have 38, of which 27 appear in 15 series, and 11 appear in 5 films. Despite this growth, the percentage they represent compared to the total number of characters analyzed is still quite low. In films this number represents 3.6%, while in series they only represent 2.8%. Once again, many of these characters are not played by people with disabilities, even though 10% of the Spanish population belongs to this group according to CERMI data.

As to the presence of racialized characters increased very slightly. Only 7.5% this year, compared to 7.2% last year, are characters of color. Fundamentally this growth occurred in feature films, where a scant 5.8% became 9.6%. In contrast, in series it falls more than one percentage point, since 7.6% of 2020 becomes 6.4%. Latino characters are the most represented, accounting for almost half (22 of 46) of the characters of color in the series and more than a third on the big screen (14 of 38).

The report also highlights that, through more equitable teams, the diversity behind the cameras will also end up translating into real equality within national productions.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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