What Iconic Films Look Like With LGBT Characters

by Lily Feinn

The LGBT community is massively underrepresented in media, whether its primetime TV, movies, or even online content. In the face of this troubling fact, an important video created by BuzzFeed Australia seeks to raise awareness by showing what iconic films look like with LGBT characters. A study done by the University of California finally did the math revealing the stats behind this oft ignored truth. In 2014-2015, they found that a mere 2 percent of 11,194 speaking characters identified as gay, lesbian, or bisexual — there were no transgender characters. In terms of diversity of depiction, two-thirds of the gay or bisexual characters were male, and 84.2 percent of depicted LGBT characters were white. Leaving out such a large swath of people, with nothing that reflects them in the media, is essentially encouraging them to feel invisible.

"There is something about seeing someone on television and being able to say 'That person is like me, I am like that person, I can identify with someone in the world'," said Jax Wearing, who played Johnny Castle in the BuzzFeed video version of Dirty Dancing. Corrine Goode, who played Rose in the BuzzFeed's Titanic re-do, describes the rarity of finding an LGBT character, "Seeing a queer character on screen is a unicorn moment."

But representation is only half the battle; it is also the quality of the characters that counts. Of the roles available, rarely do they represent the authentic or varied nature of the LGBT experience. Most depictions devolve into caricature, or are shoved to the sidelines as minor, peripheral parts. The study also found that most of the LGBT characters were located in comedies, with jokes made at their expense.

BuzzFeed chose to do these fresh interpretations of classic romantic movies because of the near impossibility of finding a good love story involving same-sex attracted or bisexual characters. "There’s nothing like watching two women fall in love on screen. I am able to feel what they feel, connect to their ups and downs, and indulge in their experiences as if it were happening to me. It’s really a breath of fresh air,” said Tania Safi, who played Edward Scissorhands in the project.

It is rare to see same-sex characters depicted in healthy relationships or a long-term partnerships, and good luck trying to find many depictions of LGBT characters as parents. All these distressing facts make you want to scream, "where are all the good LGBT leading roles?" And BuzzFeed's reinterpretations will leave you begging for a remake!


Out of the 114 major movie releases GLAAD analyzed from 2014, only 17.5 percent contained a character that identified as LGBT. Out of those seen onscreen, lesbians were the least depicted at 10 percent, gay men accounted for 65 percent, and 30 percent were bisexual. Again, there were no transgender characters.

The Notebook

A study done by the University of Southern California found that of characters from top 100 movies between 2007-2014 approximately 0.2 percent were gay men. Samuel Leighton-Dore, who played Allie Hamilton, said, “As a gay man, I definitely feel there are representations of my identity reflected in cinema (though perhaps not mainstream), however they often arrive in the form of composite characters with no real nuance, depth or originality.”

Dirty Dancing

As a transgendered person, I have not seen my identity represented in mainstream media but for being presented as a joke or a freak. LGBT films recognise me and give me a place in the world. This is so critical especially to young people growing up who may be struggling with their diversity,” said Jax Wearing, who played Johnny Castle. Clearly, it is time for a change — and soon.

To see all the wonderful reimagining of these classic love stories, check out the entire video here:

Images: BuzzFeedVideo/YouTube