May 25, 2017 / 1:24 PM / 3 months ago

LGBT community faces 'invisible' Hollywood summer movie season

FILE PHOTO: A rainbow is seen in the sky behind LGBT pride flags and the U.S. flag in West Hollywood, California, United States, June 26, 2015.Lucy Nicholson

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - "Moonlight," and its story of a young black gay man struggling with his identity, may have won the coveted best picture Oscar this year, but it is still hard to find an LGBTQ character in a major Hollywood movie, according to a report on Thursday.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group GLAAD said that only 23 of the 125 films released by the seven major Hollywood studios in 2016 includes LGBTQ characters. The "Q" stands for Questioning or Queer.

While U.S. television has made great strides in recent years with LGBT stories and characters, Hollywood movie studios are lagging way behind, the GLAAD report said.

Worse still, some are still featuring outdated humor, including the new "Baywatch" movie which has a scene where stars Zac Efron and Dwayne Johnson respond in horror to accidentally kissing one another, it noted.

"The time has come for the film industry to step up and show the full diversity of the world that movie audiences are living in today," said GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis.

"Films like 'Moonlight' prove there is a huge opportunity to not only tell LGBTQ stories worthy of Oscar gold, but to open the hearts and minds of audiences here and around the world in places where these stories can be a lifeline to the people who need it most," she added.

While GLAAD said that its findings were up one percentage point from 2015, when 22 films contained an LGBTQ character, 10 of the 2016 crop gave such characters less than one minute of screen time.

Hollywood studios also fall far behind other media in portraying transgender characters. GLAAD counted just one character (in "Zoolander 2") in its 2016 report, and said that character existed solely as a punchline.

Despite some notable examples earlier this year, including a gay character in the new live action blockbuster "Beauty and the Beast," GLAAD said "the forecast for the summer blockbuster season is a continuation of LGBTQ invisibility."

Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Richard Chang

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