This image was lost some time after publication.

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's annual Counting of the Gays tallies the exact number of "homosexual" recurring roles you can expect to see on a weekly basis in the upcoming TV season. (Or at least until three episodes in, when, after some focus-group assisted "retooling," the gay character is killed off and replaced with a wacky, straight uncle who refuses to grow up.) According to this year's tally, gay characters have slipped a notch, dropping from last year's ten to a meager nine, a number that has concerned GLAAD representatives resetting their color-coded Homosexual Visibility Advisory to lilac, for "guarded."

Nine homosexual characters are depicted in network-TV series scheduled for the 2006-07 season, a decrease from last year's 10, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation said Monday. [...]

While the year-to-year numbers are relatively consistent, the prominence of the roles has been diminished, GLAAD found, with the exit of shows like "Will & Grace," "Out of Practice" and "Crumbs." [...]

"It's clear that the broadcast networks have a long way to go before they accurately reflect the diversity of their audience and our society," said GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano.

Everyone knew the loss of Will & Grace and its two lead stereotypes would take a sizable bite out of the Gay numbers, but that still does little to soften the jolt of the raw, unforgiving data once it's laid out on Excel spreadsheet. Of course, if GLAAD wanted to easily boost the numbers, they'd merely have to bend the rules to include reality TV, which would instantly result in a camera-empowered bounty of queer role models, all of whom think they can dance/sing/act/cook/sew/get laid in a jacuzzi.