Lesbians and Bi Women Are Still Not a Part of Mainstream Films


The annual GLAAD Studio Responsibility Index has been released and, yet again, it indicates that lesbian and bisexual characters are barely represented on the big screen. The annual report details LGBTQ diversity in major films (as released by the seven largest motion picture studios—20th Century Fox, Lionsgate Entertainment, Paramount Pictures, Sony Columbia Pictures, Universal Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers), and in 2014, found that only 20 of 114 releases included any characters that were lesbian, gay or bisexual. (The SRI notes “There were no identifiable transgender characters in major film releases.”)

So how did queer women fare? Only 10 percent of those 20 releases featured lesbians, and 30 percent included bisexual characters, but that includes both women and men. (Six out of the nine bisexual characters in mainstream films this year were women.) Sadly that means the movies America is most likely to see at their local theater include little to no representation of our community and, when they do, it’s generally as a joke or titillating moment. Here are the eight major studio films lesbian and bi women had moments in this year: The good, the bad, the barely there.

Birdman (Fox Searchlight)tumblr_n9ls30wHJ41rlb6iho1_400

Laura and Lesley are both in relationships with men but share a brief but passionate kiss in their dressing room. That’s pretty much the extent of their sexual exploration.

Mas Negro Que La Noche (Lionsgate)nas

This Mexican 3-D horror film set in a haunted house has a woman named Pilar secretly lusting after her best friend, Greta. (Greta, though, is dating Pilar’s brother.) GLAAD notes Pilar has a “lesbian tattoo” and flirts with another woman, but meets an untimely end. Sounds like an interesting addition to a scary movie, but considering it’s Spanish-language, it was probably not as widely seen or heard of. Might be worth it, though, as the main cast if made up of four women.

Neighbors (Universal)tumblr_na7bdaIyCM1rlb6iho4_r1_500

Rose Byrne and Halston Sage are both straight women in relationships with men who kiss as their male partners look on. We love Rose but this is more of that barsexual type of visibility than anything else.

Under the Electric Sky (Focus Features)rave

A documentary about the Electric Daisy Carnival featured a “rave family” that was made up of poly couples, but GLAAD writes that “besides some playful flirting between the women, they appear to all be heterosexual.”

Blended (Warner Bros.)blended

Drew Barrymore‘s character is assumed to be a lesbian with her business partner (Wendi McLendon Covey) and is later admired by “an older Indian woman looking lustfully at her while Katy Perry’s ‘I Kissed a Girl’ plays before she is nudged by her annoyed husband.”

Horrible Bosses 2 (Warner Bros.)jen

Jennifer Aniston‘s sexually harassing nymphomaniac character Dr. Julia Harris threatens to hit on a her ex-employee’s wife (Lindsay Sloane). GLAAD says Julia’s attraction to the woman seems genuine, which they deem unfortunate as “many of Julia’s most loathsome personality traits fall in line with some of the worst stereotypes about bisexual people, and the eleventh hour revelation about her attraction to women exists for no other reason than to make Dale squirm. “

Tammy (Warner Bros.)table

Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh are in a loving, committed relationship and are the most together people of this comedy starring Melissa McCarthy. GLAAD writes that their characters, Lenore and Susanne, are “both depicted very naturally, and get quite a few jokes of their own, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with their sexual orientation. The fact that this is such a notable thing in a mainstream Hollywood comedy says volumes about how far there is yet to go.” It surely helped that Melissa was also one of the writers of the film.

This is Where I Leave You (Warner Bros.)TIWILY-FP-017

It was a late reveal, but awesome nonetheless. This all-star family dramedy (based on the novel of the same name) had Jane Fonda’s Hillary coming out to her family as being romantically involved with their neighbor, Linda. GLAAD counts both of these women as bisexual as they both “had previously been in loving relationships with men.” Despite it being a “lesbian twist” toward the end of the film, the relationship was treated with respect.

Outside of Tammy and This is Where I Leave You, the lesbian/bisexual representation most American audiences saw in theaters were fleeting moments of same-sex desire, and only two of the characters were women of color. We are still looking to smaller film distributors to tell our stories more accurately and in depth, such as CBS Films with Pride and Magnolia Pictures with Life Partners

In the future, though, we can be hopeful of more progress, as Lionsgate is bringing us Freeheld sometime in the next year, and The Weinstein Company is bringing us the much-anticipated Carol by 2016. Those are only two projects, though, and both took years to get made. While modern technology has made it easier for us to watch films of LGBT interest and depictions other than in movie theaters, we cannot discount the power that the major motion picture industry has. Their portrayals of our community (or lack there of) directly inform how others see us, and if we are shown only as predatory types or something to experiment with, there’s a danger of being seen that way in our real lives.



Thankfully television has done a much better job of representing LGBTQs, and hopefully movies will begin to follow that lead. This is why it’s more important than ever to show your support of those creating the kind of work worthy of your money and your time, especially queer female-created work. The 20 bucks you would spend at your multiplex seeing an insulting stereotypical comedy could be better spent.

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