In honor of Pride month, let’s take a stroll through the most iconic, most groundbreaking LGBTQ+ characters in television history. Who is your favorite?
It’s almost difficult to remember how major Ellen’s “coming out” episode was in 1997. The comedian is such a fixture on daytime TV now, but back then she almost lost her career. Ellen DeGeneres announced that she was gay in Time magazine–and a week later, her character Ellen Morgan came out, too.
Although it was never confirmed, it’s likely that her choice to come out led to the cancellation of the sitcom. Without Ellen’s bravery and honesty 20 years ago, who knows where we’d be in terms of LGBTQ+ representation now?
Although “Will and Grace” hasn’t aged especially well since leaving the air–and stumbled a bit in the more recent revival–the series was groundbreaking at the time.
To have a gay man as the lead of a network sitcom? Totally brave. To have TWO gay characters in the main ensemble? Priceless!
Over the course of the series, Willow transforms from a shy, painfully awkward nerd with a hopeless crush on her best friend into a proud queer woman and powerful witch. Talk about a glow up!
Willow and her girlfriend, Tara, shared the first on-screen kiss between two women in network television. Series creator Joss Whedon later recently revealed that he was pressured to have Willow come out as gay, not bisexual, by network executives.
We couldn’t stop at just one character from this cop show with a heart of gold. Captain Raymond Holt is the moral center of the show. His relationship with his husband, Kevin, is a beautiful portrayal of queer domesticity that is all too rare in any medium.
When tough-as-nails detective Rosa Diaz came out as bisexual later in the series, the moment was handled with tact and humor. Actress Stephanie Beatriz is also bisexual.
Wait, you might be thinking, isn’t “BoJack” a cartoon? It is! But the Netflix animated series also features one of the very first major asexual characters in TV history.
Todd’s journey to understanding and accepting his asexuality became a large part of his character throughout the second half of the series. For a group of people who often get ignored in the LGBTQ+ community, this was huge.
Asia Kate Dillon is the first openly non-binary actor with a major role on television. They play Taylor, a central character on Showtime’s “Billions.”
Taylor is a genius, easily holding their own against the powerful male characters inhabiting the world of “Billions.” They give non-binary viewers someone positive to identify with–and that’s huge for representation.
It makes sense that a show about ballroom culture would be filled with glorious LGBTQ+ characters. But the show made sure to cast diverse actors to play those roles, too.
For example, transgender and non-binary actor Indya Moore has drawn praise for their portrayal of Angel on the show. Moore, in turn, has had only positive things to say about the show and their character in interviews.