‘PTP Pink Paper’ casts critical eye on LGBTQ2S+ representation in movies, TV, streaming, video games

Report shows urgent need for better queer and trans stories—and representation among the people who make them

A groundbreaking new report is highlighting the vital need for more LGBTQ2S+ representation in Canadian media—both on screen and behind the scenes. 

Commissioned and compiled by Xtra’s parent company Pink Triangle Press, the PTP Pink Paper takes a deep dive into representation in Canadian film, TV, streaming and video games. Based on survey data and interviews with industry professionals working in Canada, as well as responses from Xtra’s annual reader survey, the first-of-its-kind report paints a picture of an industry that has made progress in depicting queer and trans stories, but still has a long way to go.

Specifically, 85 percent of industry workers surveyed said that onscreen portrayal of LGBTQ2S+ characters has improved in the past five years. While more than 90 percent of industry professionals agree that true change will only come if decision-makers are more proactive about representation, including in hiring and advancement.

At the same time, 82 percent agree that it’s more challenging for queer and trans professionals to advance into senior decision-making roles. The report notes, at several points, the lack of LGBTQ2S+ representation at the highest level, like C-suite executives, producers and showrunners who greenlight projects. It draws connections between how that affects the way stories are told and who, specifically, sees talent development as a problem.


The PTP Pink Paper findings are being presented June 11 at the Banff World Media Festival. Of the Canadian industry professionals surveyed, 93 percent agree that LGBTQ2S+ representation is important to them, and 90 percent believe that representation increases understanding and drives acceptance in society at large. 

“We don’t want to see sanitized characters replace stereotypes; we want complexity, outrageousness, deliciousness and depth. We want to see the range of experiences reflecting our lives,” says PTP CEO David Walberg. “We hope this foundational research is used in service of this goal. The film, television and video production industry, the video games industry and, more importantly, our society, will be better for it.”

Walberg is part of a panel unpacking the paper’s results at Banff. Other panelists taking a critical look at the findings include actress, writer and producer Emily Hampshire; producer and co-founder of Gay Agenda, Michelle Mama; actress Cassandra James; and writer, actor and producer Alexander Nunez.
While American organizations—like GLAAD and its annual Where We Are On TV report—have looked into queer and trans representation in film and TV broadly, the PTP Pink Paper marks the first comprehensive look at the entertainment industry in both English and French markets in Canada.

Walberg specifically hopes the PTP Pink Paper—which along with surveys drew conclusions from a content analysis of top-watched Canadian programming—will help push Canada to be a world leader in depicting queer and trans stories on screen across industries. 

“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,” he says.

A key finding of the report is the contrast between representations of white, cisgender and gay identities compared to those of Two-Spirit, trans and gender-diverse people along with people of colour. The latter are seen as the most underrepresented across the entire industry.

Meanwhile, gay men are seen as the least underrepresented and are less likely to recognize that other identities are being left out.

With that, however, the paper points to models that could flip the script. More than half of respondents specifically brought up CBC’s Sort Of in their responses as a bastion of representation and an example of what queer and trans creators can do when given financial support. 

“When a show like Sort Of exists, you hope there will be an attempt to bring more trans and non-binary and intersectional stories into the mix. What’s strange about [the Canadian industry] is that there’s more of an attitude like, ‘Well, we’ve done that. Let’s move on.’ As a result, representation doesn’t necessarily lead to more representation,” said screenwriter and producer JP Larocque.

Research for the PTP Pink Paper was conducted from late 2023 through to 2024 in both English and French. The work was supported by the Canada Media Fund and Telefilm Canada.

Senior editor Mel Woods is an English-speaking Vancouver-based writer and audio producer and a former associate editor with HuffPost Canada. A proud prairie queer and ranch dressing expert, their work has also appeared in Vice, Slate, the Tyee, the CBC, the Globe and Mail and the Walrus.

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