For Pride Month this year, I’m highlighting one great queer character on television each day. Not every character is perfect nor are some of them perfect representations, but each brings something important and different to the screen. (Click here for full list.)
1. Capt. Jack Harkness, Torchwood
Captain Jack was one of the first queer characters I was introduced to. When we meet him in Doctor Who, he hits on a woman, a man, and an alien, quickly learning Jack flirts with everyone. This is explored further on Torchwood where Jack has an interest in the unavailable Gwen and falls in love with resident teaboy Ianto. He’s often labeled as omnisexual because he doesn’t care what gender you are or if you’re an alien. He’s also ridiculously complicated and makes reckless decisions and cares deeply for those around him. John Barrowman’s swagger and charm in portraying Capt. Jack makes him irresistible to watch.
2. Kurt Hummel, Glee
Kurt (Chris Colfer) was a very ground-breaking character and to have a gay teenage character have a full relationship with another character (Blaine Anderson) on network television was huge. He was more than a flamboyant personality and grew into himself. Kurt is a great example for queer youth. He’s femme, but empowered in that femininity. Glee explored bullying and the consequences that happen in real life to gay teens in intolerant school systems. Kurt weathers it all and comes out the other side as a strong and amazing individual.
3. Poussey Washington, Orange is the New Black
I adore Poussey. She is hands-down my favorite character on that show. Samira Wiley was so brilliant in season 1 that she was given more screen time in later seasons. Bright and vibrant, her relationship with Taystee was so relatable for me. It was a deep friendship for Taystee, but more for Poussey and it was so beautiful to see two friends work out and navigate that difficult discussion. She was also able to put her unrequited feelings for Taystee on someone who genuinely felt for her – Brooke Soso. Her death in season 4 was extremely devastating given her morality and status as a fan-favorite. We miss you, Poussey.
4. Will Truman, Will & Grace
Will was the lead of the first show in history to feature openly queer characters as leads. He is sharp and intelligent as one would hope a lawyer would be. His relationship with Grace created a blueprint for relationships between white gay men and straight white women would emulate for years to come. He had his moments of flamboyance, often encouraged by Jack McFarland. Will & Grace, in all its flaws, was historic and introduced a mainstream audience to LGBT characters in a positive light. It was just the beginning.
5. Max Blum, Happy Endings
Happy Endings is one of my favorite shows and Max is such a large part of why. He is chubby, slovenly, and masculine in a way we don’t see in gay male characters in media. He is a bro’s bro who happens to like bros. He’s often noted as being the “straightest” guy in their group of friends. One of the best Max plots in Happy Endings was when he was trying to find his gay subculture and when he realized he didn’t fit in any, he made his own. Max Blum was truly a one-of-a-kind queer on TV. Oh, and he’s Jewish too. 😀
6. Cosima Niehaus, Orphan Black
Okay look. If you’re not watching Orphan Black, you are missing out on one of the most phenomenal actresses of our lifetime. Tatiana Maslany plays over a dozen different characters in this show and one of them is the inimitable Cosima. She’s brilliant, funny, and clever – the brains in the Clone Club. Seriously, all the clones would be so screwed if Cosima wasn’t there. We are so lucky and blessed to see her fall in love with Delphine, then watch how their relationship progresses over the seasons. Plus, Orphan Black has clone hijinks that bring us to lines like “As a lesbian… supporter…” All the love to Cosima.
7. Magnus Bane, Shadowhunters
I only started watching Shadowhunters because I heard there was a gay couple on it. (I am that demographic.) No one told me that 1. half of that pair was absolutely fabulous, and 2. that same character was played by Harry Shum Jr.! Magnus is a Warlock and a near immortal being at 400 years old. He’s arguably one of the most powerful protagonists in the world of Shadowhunters. The show does a wonderful job at expressing that he’s fallen in love with many, many people over his time and that he doesn’t allow gender to define his relationships. He’s powerful, sassy, and so fucking queer. (I mean, look at him!)