Pride Month has arrived so here at Nerdgeist we’re celebrating. The LGBTQIA+ community has contributed so much to the entertainment industry. Whether it be in television, movies, books, comics, video games – the list is endless. And whilst it’s so important to recognise the contributions, we also want to highlight the representation of the community we are now seeing. Because as we know, representation matters. Obviously there is still a long way to go, but we are now in a time where there are more LGBTQIA+ characters than ever before which is incredibly exciting. And those characters deserve to be celebrated so we’ve created a list of our favourite LGBTQIA+ icons from television.
1. Lafayette (Nelsan Ellis) – True Blood
There’s no denying that Lafayette was the breakout character in True Blood. He quickly became a fan favourite for his unique fashion, his witty one liners, and his swagger. The scene where he confronts some customers about not wanting to eat food he made because of his sexuality is truly iconic. Lafayette struck the perfect balance between hilarious and empowering, and Nelsan Ellis (Rest in Peace) did an amazing job portraying him.
2. Sophia (Laverne Cox) – Orange is the New Black
Laverne Cox made history in her role as Sophia being the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. And it’s easy to see why. While Cox’s character didn’t have the most screen time, every time she was there she made an impact. As the prison hairdresser, she became an agony aunt to her fellow inmates whilst also struggling with her own issues. She highlighted and fought against the discrimination that transgender people face in prison in one of the most powerful storylines of the series.
3. Pam Poovey (Amber Nash) – Archer
Let’s make it clear – Pam is a terrible person but a brilliant character (basically the same as everyone else on Archer). Unapologetically herself, she is strong, loud and confident – as well as being hilarious. She is open about her bisexuality and her love of sex. And she’s doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her. All this culminates in her being one of the show’s best loved characters.
4.Lord Varys (Conleth Hill) – Game of Thrones
In a show with such graphic sex scenes, it was refreshing to see representation of an asexual character. Varys made it clear that he was interested in neither boys nor girls and was confident in his asexuality when questioned on it by Oberyn. The open conversation was surprising given that asexuality isn’t talked about much in TV & film and Conleth Hill played Varys magnificently. Varys was a formidable character in GOT, and his calm and cunning nature almost got him to the end of a show with a very high body count. Sadly, he was killed just before the end but his impact will not be forgotten.
5. Clare (Nicola Coughlan) – Derry Girls
Funny, sweet, and completely ridiculous at times – Clare was super loveable. Her constant hysterics and meltdowns kept audiences laughing throughout the 3 season run. There’s a reason that Nicola Coughlan is so popular right now. Despite her comedy chops, it was the more serious episode where Clare comes out as a lesbian that really made viewers fall in love with her. The storyline portrayed the realities of coming out when she had the sad realisation that not all of her friends were fully accepting. Fortunately, things all worked out for Clare and in the last season she was given a love interest that her friends helped her connect with.
6.Mo (Alex Newell) – Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
Identifying as gay and gender fluid, the character of Mo quickly became an example of excellent representation. Warm, artistic and vibrant – Mo was an excellent friend to everyone and was (let’s be honest) the best singer on the show. Although Mo typically used he/him pronouns (although clarified that he accepted she/her and they/them), he wore wigs and dresses – pushing against limiting gender constructs. Viewers got to see Mo go through struggles with his gender and religion in an episode that was a masterpiece in acting by Alex Newell.
7. Justin (Mark Indelicato) – Ugly Betty
Justin’s larger than life personality and love of fashion and musicals made him a joy to watch. He lit up the screen. And again proving how important representation is, the character of Justin and his coming out story impacted a lot of the younger generation who were questioning their own sexuality. Actor Mark Indelicato even revealed that he received a lot of fan mail from kids who felt they didn’t fit in saying how much Justin had helped them.
8. Elektra (Dominique Jackson) – Pose
It’s difficult to pick just one from such a ground-breaking show like Pose filled with incredible characters but it’s Elektra that gets tens across the board from us. Fierce and powerful – she was not scared to tell people what she though. While at times she may have come across as antagonistic, it’s clear that she deeply cared for those close to her. Plus, she was the queen of reads.
9. Ryan/Batwoman (Javicia Leslie) – Batwoman
The second (and our personal favourite) iteration of Batwoman – Ryan burst onto our screens to replace OG Batwoman Kate Kane. While her origin story focused less on her sexuality and more on her journey to becoming Batwoman, the show did give us flashbacks on her coming out as a lesbian to her adoptive mother. The significance of this cannot be downplayed – seeing a black lesbian superhero on a major TV network will have had such a major positive impact on people. Javicia Leslie did a fantastic job in the role. She managed to achieve a perfect balance with the tough exterior Ryan had due to her past trauma, and her caring and compassionate side that just wanted to help people and make the world a better place.
10. Captain Jack (John Barrowman) – Doctor Who/Torchwood
Last but not least is fan favourite Captain Jack. So beloved was he on Doctor Who, that he got his own spinoff Torchwood. It was on this show that audiences got to see more of his relationships and his bisexuality (although the character identifies as omnisexual) was explored. Jack was fun, charismatic and lively. The character was a notorious flirt and Barrowman’s chemistry with his co-stars really sold it. Given that Torchwood first aired over 15 years ago, Jack was a breath of fresh air and it was incredible to see the character be so open and unapologetic about his sexuality with him becoming a role model for young people in Britain and the wider world.