‘Significant’ LGBT discrimination still prevalent in entertainment industry: SAG survey
A wide-ranging study by the Screen Actors Guild suggests that homophobic comments are common, and other forms of job discrimination are still prevalent
A survey by the Screen Actors’ Guild has concluded that significant discrimination against LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) performers persists in the entertainment industry. A third of respondents felt that the entertainment industry was biased against LGBT performers, while on-set prejudice appears to be rife: over half the LGBT actors who responded said they had heard directors and actors make “anti-gay comments”.
Conducted by the SAG-AFTRA union, which represents some 160,000 film and TV actors, with the Williams Institute (UCLA’s centre for sexual orientation law), the survey analysed the views of some 5900 respondents, 85% of whom identified themselves as straight/heterosexual.
In general terms, the feeling that there was bias was not limited to LGBT performers alone: 34% of non-LGBT respondents said they considered this to be true, as against 53% of LGBT. A third of LGBT performers also said they had witnessed “disrespectful treatment” that had been noticed by non-LGBT performers.
In terms of actual job discrimination, nine per cent of lesbian or gay respondents said they had been turned down for a job because of their sexual orientation, while earnings by LGB actors were lower as a daily average than their heterosexual counterparts despite, according to SAG’s analysis, their getting similar types of roles.
Most intriguing, perhaps, are the statistics around “marketability”. While there was a common assumption among the actors themselves that LGBT actors are marketable in straight roles, 45% of respondents “strongly believed that producers and studio executives think LG performers are less marketable; however, only 15% of heterosexual respondents felt the same.
The best news, perhaps, to come out of the survey was that 72% of LGBT actors who were out said it had no effect on their careers; though playing a gay role appeared to affect things for LGBT actors more than heterosexuals, as a quarter said it had an impact on their later work.
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