Film Forward

Hollywood Gets A Failing Grade For LGBTQ Inclusivity — But Billy Eichner Points Out Audiences Have A Role, Too

Here's how the audience is responsible for moving the needle, too.

When it comes to LGBTQ representation on the big screen, Hollywood gets a failing grade — quite literally. A recent report from GLAAD shows that major film studios fall way short of reflecting all moviegoers. While there's clearly a lot of work to be done on the filmmaking side of things, Billy Eichner points out that audiences have to play an integral part, too.

Eichner — who stars on Billy on the Street, Difficult People, and the upcoming season of American Horror Story — notes that things have "drastically changed" in the TV landscape, but that even as major of a win as Moonlight taking home the Oscar for Best Picture is, calling it "a step in the right direction," there's still "a lot of work to do" in the world of film.

The 38-year-old's argument is film studios need to put LGBTQ people in big-budget flicks, not just on the indie scene. He said there's a responsibility on their part to make these films at a high quality, and to feature fully realized and dynamic characters, but that in the end, the audience needs to show up.

Eichner has a point here, as GLAAD's analysis showed that only 23 of the 125 films they counted featured an LGBTQ character in 2016 — accounting for not even 20 percent of films produced by the big seven companies examined. No major film studio has ever gotten an "excellent" rating from the advocacy organization in the five years since it's been doing this report.

"It's not enough for Hollywood to make a bunch of gay movies. That's obviously a big part of the equation, but then gay people have to show up for those movies," he told Variety. "When something good does happen — when a Moonlight comes along — we have to go and see it. We have to spend our money on it because, ultimately, it's a numbers game."

Eichner drives home that point by using what Tyler Perry has done for Black representation in film as a perfect example. Those movies might not be acclaimed by critics, but the fans always show up and make sure they do well at the box office. That, Eichner explains, means they'll keep making those until the audience stops supporting them.

"We have to show up for each other," Eichner adds. "I'm not sure we are just yet."

Cover image via @billyeichner / Instagram and @moonlightmov / Instagram

The ways we watch TV and movies have evolved, and it's time for the talent in front of and behind the camera to do the same. Film Forward speaks on the initiatives to diversify the film industry and the stories it tells. New articles premiere every second Thursday of — and throughout — the month.


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