Queers on TV 2017: Week 3

For Pride Month this year, I’m highlighting some great queer representation on television. Not every character is perfect nor are some of them perfect representations, but each brings something fresh and different to the screen. (Click here for full list.)

15. Capt. Ray Holt, Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Capt HoltFrom the very beginning, Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) has been one of the most interesting queer characters on television. We discover at the end of the pilot that he’s gay (Gina called it) and it throws Jake off. How could a man as stoic and rigid as Capt. Holt be gay? As the series progresses, Holt grows and evolves into amore relaxed version of himself, one that is fully integrated into the Nine-Nine. Holt challenges our perceptions of what a gay man on television can be. Throughout the series, we’re given stories from Holt’s past about how difficult it is being a gay Black cop in New York City. This intersection of identities is one we don’t see anywhere else on television and it’s handled with care. Also, his husband is played by my husband Marc Evan Jackson and they own a Corgi so Capt. Holt can literally do no wrong.

16. Nomi Marks, Sense8
Nomi MarksThis might be pouring salt in the wound given its recent cancellation, but Sense8 was a phenomenal show for LGBTQ representation. Most notably we had a major show that was created by two trans women and featured a plethora of queer characters. Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton) is a trans lesbian hacker who is dating Amanita (Freema Agyeman) in beautiful San Francisco. She’s one of the sensates and like all the other characters in the show, she was fundamental to the plot. Her story could not be removed. We’re given a smart, capable trans woman who is not belittled due to her identity. There’s little discussion of Nomi’s trans identity because while it is important to her character, it is not the only thing she is. (Sense8 Honorable Mention: Lito Rodriguez because he is my baby.)

17. Lauren Cooper, Faking It
Lauren CooperWhile trans people have minimal representation, intersex folks have even less. That’s why it was a huge deal when Lauren Cooper (Bailey de Young) was revealed to be intersex. She’s the first main character in television history to ever be intersex. Her condition is specifically CAIS, or Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome. Lauren felt she needed to hide her intersex status behind a bitchy facade due to the shame she felt. Because intersex people are so underrepresented in media, the ‘Faking It’ team worked with InterACT, an intersex advocacy group, to ensure that Lauren’s story was told accurately and truthfully. They even brought on the first intersex actor to play an intersex character as a friend of Lauren’s. Let’s do more of this, yeah?

18. Luke Snyder, As the World Turns
Luke SnyderDaytime soap operas are separated into their own television categories. They aren’t considered with other shows for Emmys and they have their own sets of firsts. Luke Snyder is one of the longest-running gay characters in daytime soap operas (and arguably, in television history). Once Van Hansis was cast as adult!Luke, Luke came out and dealt harshly with conversion camp threats. Eventually, he was accepted by his family after some truths came out. The truly groundbreaking moment for daytime soaps was when Luke and Noah Mayer were given a solid romantic storyline that culminated in daytime television’s first gay male kiss in 2007. Luke and Noah evolved into a daytime TV powercouple despite their problems. (It wouldn’t be a soap opera without drama!) Unfortunately, Luke and Noah were not given the same treatment as compared to other couples in daytime TV, with their physical affections significantly limited to next to nothing due to protests from viewers. ATWT was cancelled in 2010, so we won’t know what the future held in store for Luke and Noah who were on the verge of reconciliation. But we do have YouTube videos of their kiss to watch over and over and over and over…

19. Titus Andromedon, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Titus AndromedonThe moment Titus was introduced in “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” I knew I was going to like him. He is by far the best character on that show. Tituss Burgess makes him so incredibly fun to watch whether he’s moping, yelling at Kimmy, or making his own music videos. Titus (the character) is outwardly femme and flamboyant, projecting the old stereotypes of gay men in media. But unlike those stereotypes, he’s not there simply for comedic purposes (though he does have most of the best scenes in the series). Titus has this great emotional depth, often being the one who grounds Kimmy in reality. Conversely, she lifts him up and encourages him to keep pursuing his dreams. He has a romantic relationship with a very masculine construction worker that is both weird and real. Titus has the drive to be a star and I know his passion and resiliency will ultimately take him there. Pinot Noir!

20. Willow Rosenberg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Willow RosenbergFinally: Willow. Willow is nerdy, smart, weird, compassionate, caring, and socially awkward. When we meet her in season 1, she has a crush on her best friend Xander. She then goes on to date Oz, a werewolf, for a few seasons until he leaves the show. Then in college, Willow meets Tara and starts spending all her time with her. She starts experimenting with witchcraft and magic. Their romance happens gradually as they get to know each other better and we know definitively they were in love. In the pantheon of queer TV relationships, Willow & Tara is considered one of the greatest lesbian couples. Even in all its ups and downs, their relationship is extremely romantic, strong, and loving. It was a great and positive representation of a queer relationship at a time when the networks were just getting used to having overtly queer characters. We love you, Willow!

21. Mitchell Pritchett, Modern Family
jesse-tyler-fergusonModern Family started airing the same year that Iowa had just become the third state to legalize same-sex marriage. It was a huge deal to have a gay couple with an adopted daughter in a show during primetime television. The show introduced Mitchell and Cam the same way they did the other couples on the show: with dignity, grace, and normalcy. Of the two, Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) is so great in that he reflects more of who the average white gay man actually is. He’s a professional who loves his partner and daughter, bickers with his family, and has a wide range of interests that aren’t all stereotypes. Mitchell is often noted as the grounded one of the Pritchett/Dunphy clan, the one who keeps everyone sane and together. But he is a Pritchett after all and has his flaws just like the rest of his family.

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