Report finds nearly 12% of LGBT characters on TV have repeating roles

“The Craft: Legacy,” tells the story of four teenage witches with newfound powers, one of them is 20-year-old Downey native Zoey Luna. 

“I’m like this is insanity this is not real,” said Luna. 

But her journey did not start there. 

“After I transitioned, I had a lot of problems with the school board,” she said. “They would always give me a hard time.” 

In 2014, she was one of the subjects for Laverne Cox’s documentary “The T-Word, which followed the lives of transgender youths — each facing their own forms of discrimination. 

With the discrimination she faced from not only her peers but from her school district, at 13, Luna became a transgender activist. 

“They told me that they were gonna expel me if I transitioned publicly because they just felt it was inappropriate,” she said. “Basically, they didn’t want to deal with that responsibility.”

With help from the ACLU, Luna and her family fought back and filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education. 

“The case that we had filed would have been implemented for however many years except when Trump became president, his policies basically diminished everything I had worked for to file in place to ensure that every kid that was going to that school would not have to face the discrimination because the district would be educated,” she said. 

Despite the setback, her activism continued as she created her own documentary, “Raising Zoey.” After HBO highlighted her in the documentary “15: A Quinceañera Story.” From there Luna began to get noticed, with roles in Pose and Dear Evan Hansen. 

“My experience in Hollywood has definitely been interesting but its more than I have dreamed of,” she said. “I’ve been met with a lot of acceptance and respect.”

A recent study by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, found nearly 12% of LGBT characters on TV have repeating roles. Also, while there has been increased racial diversity among LGBT characters in film, advocates said more work needs to be done. In fact, of the leading film studios, there were no transgender or non-binary characters for the fourth year in a row. 

While Luna did not face many obstacles in her journey to the big screen, many others did. However, a talent agency made it their mission to create a safe space for LGBTQ talent by becoming the first talent agency to launch a queer division. 

“I wanted to create a home, a safe place, where LGBTQ talent could thrive and understand that is ok to be who you are because I’m gay too,” said Peter Kallinteris, who runs the Peter Kallinteris Agency. 

While it sounds easy enough, Kallinteris said for his generation things were different. 

“Years ago, when I was just a young actor in the 90s it was frowned upon. Now it’s celebrated,” he said. “I think there’s a revolution going on right now just an understanding that we are all connected.”

A revolution that has become mainstream with Universal Pictures releasing the trailer for “Bros,” the first gay romantic comedy from a major studio. It also features an entirely LGBTQ principal cast. 

Other productions have also made headlines with the reboot of “Queer as Folk” and “Fire Island.” 

These television and film productions indicate a growing investment in the LGBTQ community and the hope is that this will translate to a growing acceptance by the audience. 

For Luna, she said she will continue to do her part. 

“As a trans person that is still alive, I am a walking billboard saying ‘Hey, we are here. We are taking up space,'” she said. “And the more that I continue to live authentically and bravely is kind of a mission statement.”

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