It is no secret that representation has been the bane of existence for many marginalised communities. The worst of it has been faced by members of the LGBTQIA community, who are often relegated to caricature status in popular media.
So, when a particular character is written and portrayed in a way that doesn’t turn queer folks into a punching bag, and instead looks at educating the audience, it is an occasion to celebrate. In the same spirit, today we’re looking at the top 5 iconic queer characters seen in TV shows, who have not only found a place in our hearts but also made a lasting contribution when it comes to representation.
One has a lot of things to learn from Bojack Horseman. The show, which often dwells on the aspect of generational trauma and substance abuse, shed light on a nuanced issue through the means of a secondary character. In the initial few seasons, Todd’s sexuality is kept ambiguous and for a purpose. This was a deliberate attempt to show us exactly the feelings of the character. So when Todd came out and embraced who he was, it made important headway in the discussion of asexuality.
“Eww, David” is perhaps one of the most iconic lines to come out of a television show in a long, long time. While we adore the Rose family equally, and for different reasons (Moira stan here), David Rose has earned his status as an important character to be represented in pop culture. Not only did the show put forward a strong representation of queer love, but it also answered many questions I had about my own sexuality. The “I like the wine, not the label” line was the most definable moment of my learning.
If you raise a glass every time a trans character, played by a trans person was showcased in a positive or even a non-cartoonish way, you’d end up dead sober at a New Year’s eve party. Say what you will about the character of Jules (and believe me I have a lot to say), but the decision of casting Hunter Schafer, a member of the LGBTQIA community, for a transgender role was a big victory in my eyes. But casting aside, Hunter Schafer, a trans woman, played her part with legitimacy and nuance—something we are sure wouldn’t come through had a cis-gender person taken on the role.
There’s something freeing about accepting who you are and not giving an f*** about what anyone think. This was what Omar Little was to me the first time I watched The Wire. Omar terrorised his adversaries in a world of gangsters and drug dealers with his iconic whistle. In a way, to showcase a gay black gangster leading the thug life, without his sexuality being the focus of his personality was a brave and brilliant writing choice.
Throughout its run, Netflix’s Stranger Things have done many things right, and some things wrong, speaking strictly from a narrative point of view. But what really grabbed my attention was the introduction of Maya Hawk as Robin Buckley, during the last season of the show. At first, viewers are led to believe Robin’s character is yet another love interest for Steve, everyone’s favourite babysitter. But as the story progresses, we see a completely different narrative playing out, which not only sheds light on the heartbreaking discrimination issue queer communities faced in the ’80s but also that platonic friendships between male and female characters can exist. To that, I tip my hat.
(Image credits: Netflix, HBO)