By Michael Slezak
Updated August 23, 2006 at 12:00 PM EDT

As Kathy Griffin likes to ask: Where my gays at?

The answer, apparently, is not on primetime network TV, according to a new study by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. With Will & Grace‘s Will and Jack out to permanent pasture, and the cancellation of Crumbs and Out of Practice, there are now only eight gay male characters and one lesbian among the 679 lead or supporting characters on the 95 fall comedies and dramas slated for CBS, ABC, FOX, NBC, and The CW. (And, oh yeah, that MyNetworkTV thing too.) Even more of a bummer, of the three highest-profile returning characters, Desperate Housewives‘ evil Andrew (Shawn Pyfrom, pictured at left) isn’t featured in every episode, and The Office‘s Oscar is only a bit player. (Thank heavens for ER‘s Dr. Weaver!)

Granted, as LAist notes, the study neglects to include Smithers on The Simpsons, and what’s more, it also doesn’t account for the homoerotic spectacle of Prison Break (oh, come now, it’s not just me!) or the Incredibly True Adventure of Two Boys in Love that is Scrubs (hey, that theory’s on series creator Bill Lawrence). Still, GLAAD’s report doesn’t paint a particularly fabulous sporty well-balanced picture, particularly when you add to it the fact that it also took a look at the racial mix of the lead and supporting roles, and found that African-Americans made up only 12 percent, Latinos 7 percent, and Asian-Pacific a slim 3 percent.

Now I don’t mean to sound cynical here, but given the fact that complaints about the lack of diversity in the networks’ lineups is an annual (and fruitless) sport, I’m hardly about to hold my breath and wait for the networks to improve their performance. And, I’m a tad ashamed to say, I’m not ready to check in to Betty Ford to get over my network cravings and join some kind of boob-tube boycott. Which, I guess, leaves me with two options: taking solace in g-g-g-gay reality fare like America’s Next Top Model and The Amazing Race, or, perhaps, continuing to turn to cable, where Bravo, F/X, Logo, and HBO (among others) continue to represent.

What do you make of the networks’ poor record on diversity? And what, if anything, can be done to improve it?

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