Sexual Diversity On The Small Screen: Mapping LGBT+ Characters in Flemish Television Fiction (2001-2016)

Apart from figures on LGBT+ characters in television fiction produced by the American television industry, such as the ‘Where We Are On TV’ – reports by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), quantitative data on LGBT+ representation television fiction series remains scarce internationally. With this working paper, we aim to address this lack in the context of Flemish television fiction. To meet the challenges posed by a lack of centralized data on Flemish television fiction in general, and LGBT+ characters and storylines specifically, we constructed a three-tiered database. Comprising of all 156 domestic television fiction series between 2001 and 2016, the quantitative presence of LGBT+ characters in these series, and individual traits of the 117 collected LGBT+ characters respectively. In doing so, we provide an overview of Flemish television fiction in general, the distribution in these series of characters who identify as LGBT+ and the storylines that relate to sexual and gender diversity, and offer a tool to identify individual pertinent characters. Flanders presents itself as having a dynamic television fiction industry in the past fifteen years, with genre diversity and a sizeable output. In its general output, LGBT+ characters have had a significant habitual presence since 2001, with a noted correlation to specific ‘lowbrow’ genres, and a noted lack in ‘quality’ series. The collected characters display a severe lack of diversity, with most LGBT+ characters being gay male characters, a significant majority being middle class, and few non- white LGBT+ characters.


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