PTP Pink Paper


2SLGBTQIA+ Representation in Canada’s Screen Industries

Life imitates art. Screen, in particular, is a powerful medium for shaping our realities.

Over generations, viewers have learned what a queer person is by seeing us represented on screen. Historically, those images have been largely distortions and omissions, with many Canadians not seeing themselves reflected at all. 

The classic 2SLGBTQIA+ tropes are legendary: Villain. Coward. Predator. Victim. The list goes on. Even in the modern era, we are still too often the sad sack proxy for thinly veiled social issues or the gay best friend existing only to prop up the straight lead. We are not alone in these portrayals—other marginalized communities share our pain in dubious and often damaging representation.

We recognize how far depictions have come over the last few decades even as we acknowledge that there remains pressing work to be done. As one of the world’s longest publishing queer media enterprises, Pink Triangle Press has always been invested in 2SLGBTQIA+ visibility on screens because we know that representation is vital to how we are perceived, how we perceive ourselves, and ultimately how we are treated.

Thanks to the generous support of the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada, Pink Triangle Press has launched this foundational research to report on the current state of 2SLGBTQIA+ representation across film, television, online streaming services, and videogames here in Canada. We gathered valuable insights from stakeholder interviews, a survey of Canadian media professionals, and a content analysis of the top Canadian television programs in French and English to understand the nature of 2SLGBTQIA+ representation in Canadian media. The PTP Pink Paper identifies gaps and barriers but also opportunities. This work in no way represents a chastisement, but rather an invitation to collaborate, innovate, and celebrate.

We believe that the Canadian screen industries are uniquely positioned to be global leaders in a more authentic and dynamic approach to diversity, both on screen and behind the scenes.

We look forward to this research being part of this important conversation and our hope is that we all use its tools, and our own personal agency, to “catch up to tomorrow” and engage in meaningful shifts in 2SLGBTQIA+ representation in Canadian media.

– David Walberg, CEO, Pink Triangle Press

Below are some of the most remarkable findings from the 2024 PTP Pink Paper:

  • 93% of industry professionals agree that 2SLGBTQIA+ representation on Canadian screens is extremely important to them. 
  • 90% of media professionals agree that on-screen representation increases understanding and drives acceptance of 2SLGBTQIA+ people in society at large.
  • 82% of respondents believe 2SLGBTQIA+ representation is uneven. Gay men are seen as significantly less underrepresented than any other group. Gay men are also less likely to perceive underrepresentation of 2SLGBTQIA+ identities on screen. 
  • People who are Two-Spirit, trans, and gender diverse are the most underrepresented. It is difficult to find work that features intersex and asexual characters, even outside mainstream broadcast networks and publishers. 
  • Only 10% of 2SLGBTQIA+ characters in top-rated shows have speaking roles.
  • Although we now see more 2SLGBTQIA+ representation on Canadian screens, these portrayals are often understood to be inaccurate. The vast majority of respondents feel that 2SLGBTQIA+ representation is often superficial and troublingly reliant on tropes and stereotypes.
  • Intersectionality remains a significant gap. Only 4% of the most popular English productions and 2% of French ones featured BIPOC 2SLGBTQIA+ characters.
  • Top barriers were identified to be the lack of 2SLGBTQIA+ decision makers, cautious industry executives, storytelling tropes and stereotypes, tokenizing professionals, lack of financial support, and few mentorship and career opportunities.
  • Among other areas to continue working on are better marketing of 2SLGBTQIA+ created content, safer working environments, and intersectional representation across various genres.

PTP Pink Paper at the Banff World Media Festival 2024

The inaugural PTP Pink Paper was unveiled  June 11th during the 2024 Banff World Media Festival in a presentation by David Walberg, executive director of Pink Triangle Press. The presentation was followed by a panel discussion on 2SLGBTQIA+ representation featuring Emily Hampshire (actor, writer and producer), Cassandra James (actress), Michelle Mama (co-founder of the GAY AGENDA production company) and Alexander Nunez (writer, actor, and producer with Border2Border Entertainment) and moderator Michael Serapio (anchor at the Cable Public Affairs Channel).

The PTP Pink Paper presentation and full panel discussion were broadcast live by CPAC and are available to watch online.