That's roughly 1.3 percent of 679 lead or supporting characters on the six major broadcast networks in the new season, according to the group's annual study. The figure last year was 1.4 percent.
The nine gay or lesbian characters appear on eight series, one of which, not surprisingly, is Grey's Anatomy -- a show renowned for its diversity.
Fans are probably aware that Joe, the affable proprietor and bartender at the Emerald City Bar, where the doctors often go for a drink, is a gay man. The actor who portrays him, Steven W. Bailey (above), is large and often unassuming, in contrast to how gay men are often portrayed on television.
Joe plays a small but quality role on the Seattle-based show. In one episode, the surgeons removed a tumor from his brain. On another, he attended Thanksgiving at Meredith's house with his boyfriend, Walter. We're glad to hear that he will still be around when Season Three gets underway... in less than a month!
Other series with recurring gay, lesbian or bisexual characters include Desperate Housewives, Ugly Betty, Big Day (all ABC), The Office (NBC), The Simpsons and The War at Home (both Fox).