Happy Pride Month! If you are unaware, June 28th marks the anniversary of the 1969 Stonewall riot that took place in response to a police raid at the Stonewall Inn, which was then a popular safe haven for the LGBTQ community. Many consider this to be a huge turning point in the fight for LGBTQ rights. A year after the riot, the first pride parade took place. Every June since has been celebrated as Pride Month.
In celebration, here are 17 of the best and most impactful LGBTQ characters and couples on modern television, both past and present:
Connor Walsh and Oliver Hampton, "How To Get Away With Murder"
Arguably the "How To Get Away With Murder" fan-favorite couple, Connor and Oliver both pushed the boundaries of typical gay representation. Their love story is a pivotal part of the show that had as much screen time as the show's straight couples. They had to struggle with Oliver's HIV diagnosis and the stigma around it. They challenged homophobia, both in the courtroom and on the streets. The two characters' wedding was one of the most important and memorable parts of the series. This couple is television's very recent past as "How To Get Away With Murder" ended just a month ago. Luckily, Connor and Oliver made it all the way and were seen growing old together in the series finale.
Todd Chavez, "BoJack Horseman"
Also in recent history, Todd Chavez was one of the main characters on Netflix's wildly successful "BoJack Horseman." The series was known for the risks it took and the topics it tackled. Todd's asexuality is especially significant, however, as he is one of the only openly asexual characters on television. His journey as he explored his sexuality and met a partner who also identified as asexual was extremely well done, and the portrayal of a proud asexual character is long overdue.
Maze and Eve, "Lucifer"
In case one of God's first and most beloved creations, Eve herself, having a romantic relationship with a demon from hell wasn't exciting enough for you, they're also gay. In Netflix's "Lucifer," the show includes a bisexual Lucifer, and now his good friend and demon as pansexual, and Eve as bisexual as well. Maze and Eve's relationship is so important because bisexual and pansexual women, especially pansexual women of color in Maze's case, are very rarely represented on television. What was so special about Maze and Eve's journey is that their sexualities were not treated as epiphanies they suddenly had, or something to question, they simply fell in love with each other. While the most recent season left fans unsatisfied with Maze and Eve's goodbye, we can hope their story will have a happy ending when the show releases its next and final season.
Josie Saltzman, "Legacies"
"The Vampire Diaries" universe doesn't have such a great track record when it comes to their LGBTQ characters. Most have been introduced, then shortly after killed off. So when it was announced that the show's second spin-off was going to portray one of their main characters as pansexual, I wasn't sure if I should trust it. However, two seasons in, and Josie is still alive and (sort of) well. She has been given romantic story lines with both men and women, and while the show often gets criticism for queer baiting, the inclusion of a main character being pansexual is of great importance nonetheless.
Grizz Visser and Sam Eliot, "The Society"
Another Netflix original, "The Society," became very popular after its first season released just last May. One of its most notable aspects was the relationship between Grizz and Sam. The development of their friendship and relationship was very well done. Sam is also deaf, which makes his portrayal as a gay and disabled character especially significant as those identities very rarely intersect on television. The couple is happy for the most part, but they do tackle homophobia, dating in secret, and being in the closet as well — and it's heartbreaking. Already a fan-favorite couple, we cannot wait to see where "The Society" takes Grizz and Sam next season.
Mickey Milkovich and Ian Gallagher, "Shameless"
Mickey and Ian's love story has now spanned across almost an entire decade. Showtime's "Shameless" will be airing their eleventh and final season next year, and Mickey and Ian will most definitely be one of the most remembered parts of the show's legacy. In 2011, gay characters were not nearly as common or accepted, and Mickey and Ian definitely pushed the envelope. The couple has been through hell and back over the course of the show, from Mickey's denial and his father's raging homophobia to Ian fighting against conversion therapy, nothing has been easy for them. Mickey's departure from the show in season seven caused outrage among fans, who demanded justice for their favorite couple until they finally got it in season 10, which featured Mickey and Ian's wedding.
Robin Buckley, "Stranger Things"
Robin Buckley's coming out scene in "Stranger Things" season 3 shocked fans everywhere. We were led to believe nearly the entire season that Robin was being set up as Steve Harrington's next love interest. When the two had a heart-to-heart in the last episode of the season, Robin revealed to her new friend that she is a lesbian. Though Steve was taken aback by this, he was extremely supportive. This scene was so powerful, especially considering the show takes place in a small town in the 80s, which has been hinted in previous seasons to be less than inclusive.
Blanca Evangelista, "POSE"
I should really just include the entire cast of "POSE" on this list, but I chose Blanca as she is the main character. The show itself has the largest trans cast on television. Each and every character is spectacular, but Blanca stands out. She is talented, fierce, strong, and motherly. She's ambitious, loyal, and beautiful. Blanca struggles with HIV herself, as well as taking care of close friends who share her diagnosis. Blanca, along with the majority of the main cast, represents trans women of color, a group of people who have been fighting for representation in media for far too long. I look forward to what "POSE" has in store for Blanca and the rest of the characters in season 3.
Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson, "Glee"
Oh, "Glee." Kurt and Blaine's characters and their relationship weren't always portrayed in the best way, but I can't make this list without including them. The characters were both individually significant to the show and to LGBTQ youth watching, especially Kurt's journey as he came out and dealt with bullying at school. He relied on the support of his friends and family, and then he met Blaine. Perhaps one of the most iconic gay couples on television, the two dealt with hate crimes, homophobia, and questioning their identities.
Santana Lopez and Brittany Pierce, "Glee"
I couldn't include Kurt and Blaine and forget about Santana and Brittany. Despite not being quite as popular, Santana and Brittany were a central part of the show for its many seasons. We saw great development for both characters individually. Santana's coming out journey was specifically well done. We watched as she was outed at school, then shunned by her own grandmother for being a lesbian. Santana's best friend and later girlfriend and wife, Brittany, was confident in her bisexuality for the majority of the show. She never cared much about what anyone thought, as long as she had Santana. These two had their ups and downs, but their beautiful love story ultimately came to a conclusion after they were married along with Kurt and Blaine.
Eric Effiong, "Sex Education"
One of the most beloved characters on "Sex Education," Eric, has been openly gay at school since episode 1. He is bullied for it relentlessly but is proud of who he is nonetheless. At first, Eric's family has a hard time accepting his sexuality as they are very religious, but they are ultimately supportive and welcome Eric's season two boyfriend with open arms. Eric is an extremely strong character. Even being as young as he is, he's experienced discrimination, homophobia, bullying, and even assault. After he's assaulted in season one, Eric makes a point to wear makeup to his next school dance and dress as he truly wants to, no longer wanting to hide any part of himself.
Magnus Bane and Alec Lightwood, "Shadowhunters"
These two originated on the pages of Cassandra Clare's "The Mortal Instruments" series and had a brief taste of being on screen in the 2013 movie, "City of Bones." They returned to the screen in 2016, this time on television, with Freeform's "Shadowhunters." Though the show's lifespan was a short one, Alec and Magnus were a pivotal part of the show's success. Very rarely do we get to see LGBTQ representation in worlds of fantasy and magic, but Shadowhunters did it well. We watched Alec come to terms with being gay. Magnus, meanwhile, was very comfortable in his sexuality as a bisexual man. Alec was at first so focused on pleasing his family, that he nearly married a woman. However, when Magnus showed up to the wedding, Alec gave in and made a point to kiss Magnus in front of all his friends and family. Though their love story on the show was cut short, fans can continue reading about their lives in the rest of Cassandra Clare's books.
Ola Nyman, "Sex Education"
Another excellent "Sex Education" character, Ola was first introduced as a love interest for the show's male lead in season one. Despite most fans rooting for another girl to be with the male protagonist, Ola was immediately liked by a majority of the audience — it was impossible not to like her. Ola was in a relationship with a man for most of season two but found herself interested in a close friend toward the end of it. At first, she shows confusion because she has never questioned her sexuality. After some deliberation, Ola discovers that she is pansexual. This is significant because as stated before, pansexuality is extremely underrepresented on television. I personally can't wait to see where Ola's story goes in season three!
Kat Edison and Adena El-Amin, "The Bold Type"
A personal favorite of mine, Kat and Adena have been a large part of "The Bold Type" plot since season one. Though Kat still thinks she is straight when they meet, Adena is already out as a proud Muslim lesbian. After meeting Adena, Kat begins to question her sexuality, and they ultimately end up in a relationship. It is a beautiful, supportive relationship, even after they break up. Kat and Adena both grow individually, Kat eventually deciding to identify as bisexual. Kat and Adena, as queer women of color, endure racism, homophobia, sexism, and biphobia in the workplace and in their personal lives. Both women are extremely strong characters, and I can only hope they find their way back to each other next season.
Callie Torres and Arizona Robbins, "Grey's Anatomy"
Although both characters have since left the show, Arizona and Callie's impact on "Grey's Anatomy" is unquestionable. Arizona was the first lesbian character on the show and was seen already being comfortable and confident in her sexuality. Callie, on the other hand, had no yet come to terms with her own bisexuality. She had only dated men and was even married to one for the beginning portion of her time on the show. After that relationship ended, Callie found herself interested in Dr. Erica Hahn. The two characters date for a short time, and this is how Callie's family finds out about her sexuality. Her father is less than supportive, and he and Callie fight very publicly at the hospital. He ultimately cuts her off. Despite the loss, Callie becomes more confident in her sexuality and eventually meets Arizona. Their relationship takes off, and they quickly become a central part of the show. They were even married for seasons before ultimately getting divorced and going through a messy custody battle. Despite their dark times, it is implied as Arizona left the show that she was going to meet Callie. This gives fans just a little bit of hope for one of the show's most beloved couples.
Clarke Griffin, "The 100"
Clarke Griffin is one of the first — if not the first — openly bisexual protagonists on The CW. "The 100" first introduced Clarke's romantic interests as primarily men, so her relationship with Lexa, not only a woman but an enemy of Clarke's people, in season two surprised a lot of fans. Clarke's bisexuality was never presented as something that was a big deal — it is possible that due to the futuristic setting that no one really cares who loves who anymore. Still,the short-lived love between the two characters quickly became significant to much of the audience who was seeing themselves represented on television for one of the first times. Unfortunately, Lexa was then killed off the show, leaving many fans outraged. Despite not having the couple back completely, there are frequent mentions of Lexa and her relationship with Clarke throughout the rest of the show. Some are even hoping for her to return at the end of the current season, season 7, as it is the show's last.
Victor, "Love, Victor"
After looking back on the LGBTQ representation of the past and present, let's celebrate one coming up! Hulu original, "Love, Victor" will be coming out this month, June 19. The show is based in the same universe as the "Love, Simon" movie released in 2018 about a gay teenager and his coming out story. The movie was based on Becky Abertali's "Simon vs The Homosapien Agenda," and fans hope to get mentions of Simon in the new television series. Although we aren't 100 percent sure what to expect, the show's trailer recently came out and it can be expected that Victor is struggling with his sexuality. I'm personally very excited about this release, and cannot wait to binge-watch it.
Representation is so important, both for queer youth and for the people around them who may not fully understand the significance of one coming to terms with their sexuality. Every character and couple on this list has a place in our hearts, and I wasn't even able to list them all.
Remember that no matter who you are and what you identify as, no matter who you love, you are valid. Happy Pride, everyone!
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