LGBTQ representation on television has made good progress in recent years, and though it can’t change society’s view on queer people in an instant, seeing LGBTQ role models on the small screen makes a huge difference. Positive LGBTQ representation in media can make members of the community feel seen, inspire them to live their truth, and, in the right circumstances, save their lives. Below are some of the most amazing LGBTQ characters on TV that deserve to be celebrated all year round.
Enrique Moratonas (Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll) | Kim’s Convenience
A recurring gay character in the CBC Television sitcom Kim’s Convenience, Enrique Moratonas is a registered nurse and regular customer of the Kim family’s convenience store. Loud and sometimes over-the-top, Enrique considers the family’s patriarch, Mr. Sang-il Kim (Paul Sun-Hyung), his friend. Though this seems to be unrequited, Enrique still tries his best to get close to the store owner and remains genuinely concerned about his health.
Portrayed by Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, Enrique only appeared in a total of 12 episodes throughout the five-season run of the series. Despite his small role, Enrique is considered as one of the fan-favorite characters from the show.
Camille Torres (Sara Ramirez) | Grey’s Anatomy
Introduced as a love interest for surgical resident George O’Malley (T. R. Knight) on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, orthopedic surgeon Camille Torres was originally created to be disliked by her colleagues. However, an apparent change of plan made her one of the friendliest and most easy-going characters in the series. In fact, even the usually icy general surgeon Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) eventually warmed up to her and asked her to be her maid of honor.
But what really made Camille a memorable TV character was her bisexual storyline with cardiothoracic surgeon Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) and pediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw), which garnered high critical acclaim from reviewers and audiences alike. Appearing in 11 seasons and 239 episodes of the medical drama, Camille is one of the longest-running LGBTQ characters on TV.
Ellen Morgan (Ellen DeGeneres) | Ellen
Ellen Morgan is an awkward yet likable bookstore owner in her 30s. Though Ellen occasionally dates men in the first three seasons of the ABC sitcom, hints are made to the character’s sexuality from the start of season 4 until she finally comes out as a lesbian in the historic 1997 episode titled The Puppy Episode. It was the first time the main character on a show had ever come out.
The episode, which aired shortly after DeGeneres publicly revealed that she was gay in real life, received a great deal of media exposure and ignited controversy. In fact, leading up to the airing of the episode, the show’s cast and crew received abuse and even death threats from multiple homophobic religious groups. Despite the criticisms, the two-part episode received amazing reviews and attracted nearly 40 million viewers. DeGeneres also won an Emmy for writing the episode.
Cameron Tucker (Eric Stonestreet) | Modern Family
Cameron Scott “Cam” Tucker is the husband of Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) and the adoptive father of Lily Tucker-Pritchett and Rexford Tucker-Pritchett on ABC’s Modern Family. Known for his big personality and flare for theatricals, Tucker often finds himself at odds with his spouse who has an uptight personality.
Generous at heart, Cam has an uncontrollable desire to help anyone or anything that may seemingly need assistance, sometimes even at the cost of his time with his family.
Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) | Modern Family
The exact opposite of his husband Cam, Mitchell Vincent “Mitch” Pritchett has a Type A, high-strung personality. Though Cam and Mitch’s clashing personalities often cause disagreements, they always come to a resolution at the end of the day, as they perfectly counterbalance each other.
As a lawyer, Mitchell willingly helps out his family members in need of legal aid. However, mainly because of his difficult relationship with his father growing up, Mitchell is so eager to earn his dad’s recognition as a serious lawyer.
Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) | Orange Is the New Black
Though tough on the outside and sarcastic at times, lesbian Nicky Nichols is profoundly wise and kindhearted. Dubbed the “Junkie Philosopher” by Yoga Jones (Constance Shulman), Nicky gives some of her fellow inmates sound advice.
In the early seasons of the Netflix comedy-drama series, Nicky’s impulsivity and loud mouth easily get her into trouble. Fortunately, she’s able to sand down some of her rougher edges and become more stable by the end of the series.
Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox) | Orange Is the New Black
A transgender lesbian character from Orange Is the New Black, Sophia Burset is a friendly person in general. Despite her difficulties with transphobia, she is even-tempered and tries not to let the insults get to her. She fights back sometimes, but she only does so when she’s in grave danger.
Though her son is resentful and angry about her decision to transition, Sophia still values her job as parent and provider, even resorting to fraud when necessary. Sophia’s inability to provide and care for her son is a huge source of guilt for her.
Will Truman (Eric McCormack) | Will & Grace
Introduced as an in denial gay man in the NBC sitcom Will & Grace, Will Truman came out on Thanksgiving of 1985 when his then-girlfriend Grace Adler (Debra Messing) invited him to her parents’ house with the plan of losing her virginity to him. Will panicked and proposed to Grace to keep them from having sex but later admitted that he is, in fact gay. Following the incident, Will and Grace did not speak to each other for a year, but eventually reconciled and became inseparable best friends.
Depicted as a person with integrity, fans consider Will the most mature and reasonable character in the show. Though occasionally distant and aloof, Will often goes to great lengths to help his friends. As a good lawyer, he provides legal assistance to his friends and family. When he’s not practicing law, he spends his time working on arts and crafts and keeping his home clean and orderly.
Jack McFarland (Sean Hayes) | Will & Grace
Will’s close friend since college, Jack McFarland is a confident and free-spirited gay man who adores all gay icons, particularly Cher. Fickle-minded at most times, Jack drifts from man to man and changes occupations quickly.
Jack believes in gay rights but tends to lend his support to shallow causes, such as protesting NBC censoring a gay kiss on a TV series. Nevertheless, Jack’s intentions are always good. In fact, in one episode of the sitcom, he uses all his nest-egg money to save a pair of gay penguins at the zoo just to make Will happy.
Omar Little (Michael K. Williams) | The Wire
Probably one of the most unique LGBTQ characters on TV, The Wire‘s Omar Little is a notorious Baltimore stick-up man who frequently robs street-level drug dealers. Despite his criminal record, Omar has a strict moral code, which involves his refusal to harm innocent civilians and distaste for profanity.
His homosexuality and privately tender nature, especially towards her grandmother, starkly contrast with typical notions of machismo attached to violent criminals. Further contributing to his feared status as an efficient burglar is his cunning and intelligent personality that allows him to execute well-laid plans.
Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer) | Glee
Considered as one of the most inspiring LGBTQ characters on TV in the 2010s, Kurt Hummel is a fashionable gay countertenor who is routinely bullied at school in the early seasons of the Fox musical dramedy Glee. The series tells his struggle with his sexuality as he comes out to his father and friends, and deals with his romantic feelings for Finn Hudson (Cory Monteith) and later for Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss).
Kurt’s personality is one of the most multi-faceted in the show, having interests in everything from cars to fashion. Though he has an occasionally complex relationship with his father, he also has a strong “family first” mentality. Kurt can be a bit of a diva at times, but he cares deeply for his fellow Glee Club members.
Brittany S. Pearce (Heather Morris) | Glee
Openly bisexual, Brittany S. Pearce is extremely kind and caring but is quite childish compared to her peers. Due to her one-liners, she is often seen as the “dumb blonde”. Though she lacks some common knowledge, Brittany always sticks up for herself. She is later discovered to be a mathematical genius, although she worked out most equations by accident.
While Brittany is used as comedic relief, she actually has some emotional intelligence, giving very good advice to the people she cares about, even if it is in a strange or non-normative way.
Santana Lopez (Naya Rivera) | Glee
Santana was outed as a lesbian in season 3 of Glee. Before that, she had been struggling with accepting her sexuality. Though Santana was first introduced as a cold, mean “popular girl”, her character progressed over time. Some people found Santana mean, but she described herself as honest.
Santana is one of the few characters who understand Brittany’s eccentric personality. She’s always been kind to Brittany, showing that she has a sweet side. They later begin dating and eventually get married.
Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss) | Glee
Blaine Anderson is an openly gay man with a confident exterior that often belies his insecurities. Though there are times when he throws himself into situations impulsively, he is often very composed and shows a lot of self-control.
While Blaine is not afraid of being openly gay, he still prefers to act in a way that is socially acceptable, warning his boyfriend and later husband Kurt that trying too hard and showing too much can be detrimental.
Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) | Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
Born as Ronald Wilkerson in Mississippi where he was raised by five aunts, Titus Andromedon knew from a young age he was gay but had no choice but to stay in the closet until his wedding day to childhood friend Vonda Jeanne Brooks (Pernell Walker). The thought of the wedding night was too much for him so he fled the reception without saying goodbye, travelling to New York to begin a new life under a new name, Titus Andromedon.
Thinking that he will be let down at the end, Titus is often resistant to relationships. He, however, later becomes involved with construction worker Mikey Politano (Mike Carlsen), who initially struggles with his sexuality and comes out with Titus’ help.
Brian Kinney (Gale Harold) | Queer as Folk
Brian Kinney is a successful advertising executive who leads a glamorous and self-indulgent lifestyle. Portrayed as extremely promiscuous and narcissistic, he takes pride in his looks and his status as the most desirable man on Pittsburgh’s Liberty Avenue. Brian completely rejects heteronormativity, monogamy, and even gay marriage, often putting him at odds with his gay friends who yearn to get married and start families of their own. Despite Brian’s seemingly uncaring and amoral nature, he is shown as loving his friends and will often make great sacrifices for them, even though he won’t admit it.
Brian has been criticized for his representation of what many gay viewers believe are “negative stereotypes about gay men.” Some critics, however, have described him as “the ultimate gay hero” because of his liberationist philosophy and uncompromising moral code.
Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) | Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Married to Columbia University’s Classics Department chair Kevin Cozner (Marc Evan Jackson), Raymond Holt is the commanding officer of NYPD’s 99th precinct. Strict, stoic, and staunchly professional on the outside, Raymond is actually a warm and kind-hearted man who cares deeply about the officers and employees under his command.
Though he is often lampooned by his colleagues for his lack of displaying emotion or facial expressions, he is held in the highest regard by them and has developed close relationships with most of them.
Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) | Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Considered as the badass of NYPD’s 99th precinct, Rosa Diaz is a fiercely committed detective who comes as bisexual in season 5 of NBC’s Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Though her anger management issues and lack of empathy terrify most of her coworkers, she proves to be very useful when paired with other detectives.
Highly secretive about her personal life, Rosa refuses to let any of her colleagues visit her home. Despite this, she remains a loyal and effective member of the squad while taking pride in the fact that no one knows much about her.
Maxxie Oliver (Mitch Hewer) | Skins
Out and proud, Maxxie Oliver is confident in his sexuality. Even when people try to bully him, he doesn’t hide it and often handles it with a laugh.
Though Maxxie is alluded to having had many promiscuous relations throughout the series, he’s way more than that. Maxxie is a proficient tap dancer and a brilliant artist. Well-liked and well-adjusted, he’s also somewhat of a comedian, especially when he’s with his best friends Anwar Kharral (Dev Patel) and Chris Miles (Joe Dempsie).
Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon) | Billions
The first non-binary main character on North American television, Taylor Mason is introduced as a talented financial analyst at Axe Capital who becomes close to Lara Axelrod (Malin Åkerman) and is later appointed CIO of Axe Capital.
They later leave Axe Capital to form Taylor Mason Capital but is later forced back to Axe Capital as a subsidiary in-house fund under Axelrod’s control. Known for their outside-the-box way of thinking, Taylor is usually the smartest person in the room at any given time.
Elena Alvarez (Isabella Gomez) | One Day at a Time
In a relationship with Syd (Sheridan Pierce), Elena Alvarez officially comes out as a lesbian in season 1, episode 10 of Netflix/Pop’s One Day at a Time. She’s the captain of the debate team who has passion for social studies. Though still finding herself, she appears to be sure about a few things like not wanting to have children of her own in the future.
Due to her immense passion for social justice and politics, some people, including her own family, find her preachy, and even annoying at times. Though quite stubborn and hot-headed, Penelope believes she should channel her anger into becoming a lawyer. Because of her above-average intelligence, her family sees her becoming very successful in her chosen endeavor.
Alex Kelly (Olivia Wilde) | The O.C.
Described as the Nat (Beverly Hills 90210) of The O.C., Alex Kelly is the “bad girl” who runs the Bait Shop club. After getting emancipated from her parents, she drops out of high school, gets a job at the club, and moves into an apartment on the numeric streets of Newport Beach.
After working with Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) at the club, Alex briefly had a relationship with him. Seth ended their romance after he found out about Alex’s bisexuality. Alex then moved on to date Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton). However, Marissa fell back in love with Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) so she and Alex broke up, leaving the latter devastated.
Oberyn Martell (Pedro Pascal) | Game of Thrones
Father of eight bastard girls known as the Sand Snakes, Oberyn Martell has fluid sexuality. He believes that life is short and one must enjoy all of life’s pleasures, including sexual ones, while one can. He’s bisexual and does not limit his pleasure to one gender alone, thus he engages in sex with both men and women.
Despite his promiscuity, Oberyn genuinely loves his siblings and his paramour Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma). Oberyn is also a very intelligent man, having studied at the Citadel for several years before deciding he’s simply bored with a future as a master.
Ellaria Sand (Indira Varma) | Game of Thrones
Like Oberyn, Ellaria is also bisexual and shares her paramour’s tastes and zest for life. She’s an adventurous, carefree, and spirited woman. But following’s Oberyn’s death, Ellaria’s personality becomes much darker, ultimately inheriting his vengeful side.
Ellaria displays a strong affection for her eldest daughter, Tyene (Rosabell Laurenti Sellers), and treats Oberyn’s two oldest daughters, Obara (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and Nymeria (Jessica Henwick), with respect, despite them not being her own children.
Enrique Vasquez (Wilson Cruz) | My So-Called Life
Rayanne Graff’s (A.J. Langer) other best friend, Enrique “Rickie” Vasquez is a gay 15-year-old boy being raised by his uncle, who physically and emotionally abuses him. When his uncle kicks him out of the house, he is fostered briefly by the Chases and then by gay English teacher Richard Katimski (Jeff Perry), who becomes his mentor.
Rickie wears eyeliner and bright clothing and feels most at home in the girls’ bathroom with Rayanne and Angela Chase (Claire Danes).
Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) | Doctor Who
The final companion of the Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Bill Potts is a lesbian who attends the Doctor’s lectures and develops an interest in a young woman named Heather (Stephanie Hyam).
Smart and inquisitive, Bill asks questions that most people don’t ask and comes to conclusions in a different way than other people normally do. She loves science fiction and is open to the idea that the concepts it proposes are real and affect the lives of those around her. Bill is also rather bold, hating the idea of being spoken to in a sexist manner and having to withhold her opinion due to racial stereotypes of the 19th century.
William Hill (Ron Cephas Jones) | This Is Us
William Hill is Randall Pearson’s (Sterling K. Brown) bisexual father who abandoned his son at a fire station soon after his birth. Though he has led a tough life, William’s journey to sobriety taught him patience and acceptance. He owns his past mistakes, but he’s also at peace with the man he is today.
Calm and introverted, William is nicknamed “Shakespeare” because of his artistic soul. He’s a talented piano player and singer.
Jules Vaughn (Hunter Schafer) | Euphoria
A transgender girl who befriends Rue Bennett (Zendaya), Jules Vaughn is introduced as someone who is cheerful, sweet, and confident. However, Jules begins to be less respectful, to the point of fleeing the city, after the events of the show’s episode 6.
Though she tends to be naive about other people and impulsive about her decisions, Jules is brave, spontaneous, extroverted, and curious about new experiences.
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Nia Nal (Nicole Maines) | Supergirl
Like her mentor Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist), Nia Nal is hardworking, meticulous, and eager to prove herself as a reporter. While a bit shy in the beginning, she has shown to be passionate about her job at CatCo Worldwide Media.
Nia, who is also known as the superheroine Dreamer, has a strong sense of justice and will never hesitate to speak out for what is right in the face of injustice and stand up for what she believes in. Having personally faced bigotry due to being transgender, Nia is open-minded, accepting, and empathetic to fellow victims of prejudice and hate.
Victor Salazar (Michael Cimino) | Love, Victor
Usually described as nice, kind, and funny, Victor Salazar is a young gay man who is currently trying to figure himself out. Constantly confused and has a lot of questions, Victor often reaches out to his gay friend Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) for help. But if something requires him to do what anybody else would do, but it goes against what he believes in or knows is right, then he will choose his own path.
Victor describes himself as the problem fixer in his family, who has eventually come to accept his sexuality.