Jun 14, 2019
By Nicole Bitette
Incorporating LGBTQ personalities and plotlines into entertainment doesn’t just reflect the diversity of our society—it changes public perception of the LGBTQ community.
In recent years, characters on television and film have become more diverse, pushing the historically limited boundaries for race and sexual orientation. It’s a notable shift. It means that the world shown on-screen is starting to get closer to reflecting the realities of the world off-screen. And, according to new data from Viacom’s Global Consumer Insights, it plays an important role in shifting public perception of the LGBT community.
In a survey of nearly 120,000 people 14 and up across 67 countries, GCI found that media representation and celebrity acceptance of LGBT is the top factor in changing perceptions for people who don’t know someone who’s attract to the same sex. (Of note: fewer than half of respondents said they knew a gay person.) As well, almost a third of respondents said their perceptions of the LGBT community have improved in the last five years.
“As a media company, we have the power to create real change,” says Christian Kurz, SVP of Viacom’s Global Consumer Insights. “Viacom has been at the forefront of diversity for a very long time. It helps empower the organization to showcase stories and people in positive ways.”
In many regions, people’s acceptance and advocacy of LGBT preceded government rulings. For instance, half of people worldwide agree that transgender people should be granted legal rights as the gender they identify, the study reveals. Yet as recently as 2017, there were still 34 countries in Europe alone that don’t allow a transgender person to change their name or gender without a medical procedure, according to Transgender Europe.