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What's with the name?

Allow us to explain.

Power Grid

10 Badass LGBTQ Characters From Television

  1. 1.Allow Us To Explain Allow Us To Explain

    June is traditionally celebrated as Gay Pride Month in honor of those who fought against a police riot at the Stonewall Inn on June 28, 1969. Facing a police raid, a group of queer people, many trans* or gender-variant, fought back against the police in what would become a defining moment for LGBTQ rights.

    Now certainly, fictional queer characters do not carry the same importance as real historical LGBTQ figures. However, we'd like to think that positive representation of queer identities is an important facet of LGBTQ activism. Positive media portrayal of queer characters not only builds acceptance and understanding of queer individuals and communities, it also gives LGBTQ people characters to identify with. On face value, that sounds trite, but given the continued rash of suicides by queer youth, it's hard not to wonder if the world would be a little easier to live in if you could turn on the TV and see yourself (or someone you relate to) and share in their triumphs and heartaches. Just as the LGBTQ people at Stonewall struggled against an institution larger than themselves to improve their community, we think that these characters are fighting against broader cultural norms and prejudices in a way that improves the lives of queer people everywhere, if only just a little bit.

    There are certainly more than a few flaws with our list: the lack of queer people of color on mainstream television is appalling, as is the lack of genuine trans* and gender non-conforming characters of significance to the show's story. All too often, being queer is conflated with being white, and trans* characters end up as the punchline of jokes, left out altogether, or portrayed as mentally disturbed. Furthermore, television tends to shy away from unproblematic depictions of liminal sexualities – for this reason, there aren't many well-written bisexual or pansexual characters gracing this list. We'd like this list to serve not only as a celebration of LGBTQ characters on television, but also as a reminder that this is not the end all be all of queer representation: there is so much work to be done, and maybe one day we'll be able to publish a power grid of queer characters without a disclaimer accounting for all the identities overlooked or misrepresented.

    This list is dedicated to the runner ups, who we deemed to be too obscure, underdeveloped, or rooted in subtext rather than canonical text to include: Utena of Revolutionary Girl Utena (mostly because we put her on a grid at every opportunity, and we felt we should open the playing field), Original Cindy of Dark Angel, Ianto of Torchwood (we put Jack on our list from last year), Helena Cain, and Felix Gaeta, here's to you. More than them, though, it's dedicated to all the LGBTQ people for whom these characters provided a source of comfort and identification, to the relentless activists struggling to make this world a safe place to be queer in, and to all the teens struggling with heavy questions of gender and sexuality. The struggle towards justice for LGBTQ folks has been a long and arduous one, so let's take a moment to celebrate how far we've come and the fantastic fictional personalities we've encountered along the way!

  2. 2.Susan Ivanova Susan Ivanova

    Look up LGBT themes in speculative fiction on Wikipedia, and the entry on television begins with Susan Ivanova, a decorated soldier that who starts Season 1 of Babylon 5 as a Lieutenant Commander, advancing over the course of the series to second in command of the titular space station, and, in its epilogue, to General and eventually the leader of an inter-species group of elite warriors, the Anla-shok.

    And, yes, Ivanova's identity as bisexual was never explicitly stated in the show. However, the way it was not-explicitly stated is, for the standards of the mid-nineties, practically the equivalent of full disclosure today. That, coupled with the fact that Babylon 5 ever-so-slightly predates Xena: Warrior Princess, gives Ivanova a solid spot on this list.

    Trust, love, and lack thereof, were major themes of Ivanova's character arc during the five seasons of the show, which, it must be said, stretches her only slightly out of the Yes We Have Gay Characters But Bad Things Always Happen to Their Lovers trope. At least in this instance, accepting and recognizing that she is worthy of giving and receiving love is an acknowledged part of her character development regardless of whether she's involved with a man or a woman. Even if one of them turns out to be a sleeper agent, one is a xenophobic alien hater, and another sacrifices his life for her. Initially, Ivanova is distrustful of Talia Winters because of her ties to a regulatory body in charge of human psychics (of which Ivanova is secretly one), but that distrust gives way to friendship, and eventually, subtly, love, as Ivanova admits to a confidant seasons later.

    Fans first noticed that they were being shown more than a friendship between the two women in an episode where Winters spends the night in Ivanova's apartment, wakes, and appears to reach to the empty other side of a bed. Later, she remarks that Ivanova was gone when she woke up. An odd cut in the episode also seemed to imply that a kiss had been filmed and then removed. Show creator J. Michael Straczynski (yes, the comics-writing Straczynski), denied that a kiss had been removed from the episode, but also, tellingly, offered this: "I didn't show a kiss because, in my experience, it's easier on all around if one steps into the shallow end of the pool first, and walks into the deep end rather than diving in and splashing everybody in the process." This philosophy on including non-straight sexualities in a time, medium, and genre with no real precedence for them seems to be borne out by another plot point a few seasons later when two male characters go undercover... as a newlyweds.

  3. 3.Xena and Gabrielle Xena and Gabrielle

    Ayiyiiyiyiyiyi! It would be a foolish, and lengthy, endeavor, to try and explain everything that happened during the six intricate, crazy seasons of Xena: Warrior Princess. Instead, we'd like to explain, if we must, what an 'unconfirmed' lesbian character is doing on our LGBT television list. If any fictional figure has earned the place it's the iconic, unstoppable (literally, unstoppable, even by death several times over) Warrior Princess.

    Self-aware of its own kitsch, and deadly serious by the same measure, Xena was a spin-off of equally crack-tastic 90s Saturday-night juggernaut Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. For those unfamiliar with the look and feel of these shows, try to imagine a Gladiator-themed Renaissance faire, with the same grab bag of mythology, temporal displacement (Julius Ceasar is a major character at one point in this purportedly Ancient Greek drama, and his appearance is not even the worst offender), and, just maybe, an adjacent Pride Parade. Xena, once a major villain on Hercules, was turned to good, and, determined to balance out her years as a bloodthirsty warlord, sets to traipsing about Ancient Greece with her lovely companion Gabrielle, ostensibly looking for trouble.

    The ladies make a crack team, for sure, but it wasn't their trips around the globe that caught viewers' attention. Instead, it was the barely-repressed sexual tension between the two. Recognized early on as a cult phenomenon in the lesbian community by the show's producer's, writers, and stars, Xena more than played into widely held assumptions about the leads. They found body-swapping story line excuses to make them kiss (which are actually more direct than indirect if you think about them), had them wake up in the same bedroll every morning of the show, and had them literally fight through Heaven and Hell to get back together (just go with it; we did). The death-defying antics of the twisting and turning plot left little to the imagination in terms of character motivation. By the French kiss that closes off the series finale, general consensus was less are-they-or-aren't-they than yes-they-are.

    You've got to remember, Xena began to air in 1995, when the culture, at large, had almost no positive gay characters to speak of, certainly not on a broadcast serial. So, though the leather-clad warrior princess was never officially outed (except, maybe, after the fact), she is without a doubt a major forerunner to every gay hero TV has seen, or will. We dare you to listen to that opening bagpipe whine and tell us it doesn't make you nostalgic.

  4. 4.Renly Renly

    Renly Baratheon is one of the most handsome and charismatic men you’ll find in Westeros. He’s the brother of King Robert and Lord Stannis, yet is quite unlike the two. For one, he’s popular with just about everyone. His personality is friendlier than either of his brothers, which certainly helps, he enjoys a good celebration, but doesn’t overdo it like Robert, and is good at keeping up appearances. There’s one other difference between Renly and his brothers - Renly is gay.

    His sexual preferences are both the biggest secret at court and the most obvious. At least to those who would try to conspire against him. Renly is not only the Lord of Storm’s End, he sits on the small council of the King as Master of Laws, helping his brother Robert make important decisions (or making them entirely in his absence). Before the option was even viable, Renly’s lover, Ser Loras, urged him to take the throne for himself with the help of his own family, House Tyrell. Though he doesn’t choose to act on that plan until he knows he has a chance to actually win (after Robert is killed).

    Despite Stannis having the legitimate claim to the Iron Throne, Renly decides to take it for himself and amassed a huge following quite easily. To strengthen the bond with the 100,000 men at his command, he weds Loras’ sister Margaery. Meanwhile, on the field, he played it cool. He knew it made more sense to gain followers while the other would-be Kings fought and died. Instead of marching on King’s Landing, Renly held tournaments that gained him even more love.

    Aside from several lesbian encounters in the novels, Renly is author George R.R. Martin’s only gay character in his A Song of Ice and Fire series (aside from Loras, obviously). And to his credit, Renly’s sexuality is almost a non-issue in the books. It certainly isn’t dangled over his head as a veiled threat of revelation like it is on the HBO series, but even there, Renly never bows to any form of blackmail when it comes to his relationship with Loras. You get the feeling he would be completely open about it if not for the religious beliefs of the realm. Renly may be dead but he left a mark on the world and the people in it.

  5. 5.Haruka and Michiru Haruka and Michiru

    Examining Sailor Moon as a queer text can prove difficult sometimes – though the relationship between Haruka Tenoh (Sailor Uranus) and Michiru Kaioh (Sailor Neptune) is definitely canon in the original Japanese manga and anime, their relationship was covered up in the United States release. To many fans who only have the english version of the series as a point of reference, Haruka and Michiru are merely extremely close cousins. In Italy and France, they were only close friends.

    However, rampant censorship never stopped Sailor Moon fans from claiming Haruka and Michiru as queer icons. Haruka is drawn fairly androgynous in the the manga, donning both masculine and feminine outfits. She is portrayed as strong-willed, particularly protective of her lover, and extremely flirtatious. Michiru, on the other hand, is introverted and feminine. Upon first glance, it might seem as though Haruka and Michiru reproduce roles usually assigned to heterosexual couples, Haruka being the masculine flirt and Michiru being the reserved feminine woman. However, that's not the case, and this couple certainly queers gendered relationship roles: while Haruka is a flirt, she's also extremely bashful about talking about relationships in public. While Michiru is feminine, she's also an ardent soldier and works with Haruka as an equal.

    Haruka and Michiru are among the most popular characters featured in fan-made manga and fanfiction, and it's no secret why-- they manage to maintain a loving lesbian relationship while kicking ass and saving the world as Sailor Senshi. Perhaps what's most remarkable about their relationship is the impact it has managed to have on a demographic that consists of largely young girls despite its censorship in pretty much every country except Japan. Haruka and Michiru have survived not just various and assorted supervillains, but also utter homophobic cultural rejection. Their love has persevered despite a huge effort to hide it from the world, largely thanks to young girls (and later, nostalgic women) who believed in the value of their relationship and the importance of documenting their truths. They're a story of the perseverance and strength of LGBTQ people everywhere, and a testament to the power of a tireless community of queers and allies.

  6. 6.Shuuichi Nitori Shuuichi Nitori

    You might not have heard much about the anime Wandering Son, and that's a shame, because it has some of the most poignant and sincere depictions of young people grappling with their gender identity that I've seen anywhere. Shuichi Nittori is a child who was assigned as a boy at birth – she desperately wants to be recognized as the girl she knows she is and often wears girl's clothing, despite receiving ridicule from her classmates.

    Wandering Son stands as an beacon of light in an art form often plagued by depictions of trans* characters used for comedic purposes, or as silly plot devices. Instead of a silly story that makes light of gender identity, the viewer is presented with both serious and lighthearted tales of Shuichi undergoing puberty, growing body hair, getting pimples, and experiencing a deepening voice, all while trying to reconcile her gender with the world.

    By no means is this show perfect – it seems to rely upon a traditional male/female and masculine/feminine binary, as Shuchi is horrible at sports, terribly frail, and loves to bake, things that are supposed to be code for being a girl, as opposed to the boy everyone treats her as. Obviously, just like all women, trans* women can be masculine as well. What this show does succeed at, however, is this: Shuichi is a trans* girl, and she's attracted to women. All too often, being trans* is conflated with sexuality, a notion that seriously devalues the gender of trans* people – if you're a trans* woman attracted to men, you must “really” be a gay man in other words, a really offensive, false assumption. Wandering Son manages to buck that assumption outright – Shuichi is trans* and she's queer, she occupies both distinct categories.

    Admittedly, the show can be overly fluffy. It's a slice of life grade school anime, one that is limited in scope to questions of puberty, gender, and childhood romance. But while it doesn’t show the violence and hardship many trans* women face, it does give a voice to an identity that is often hypersexualized or diminished in culture and media, and that voice is powerful, necessary, and sorely missed.

  7. 7.Lafayette Reynolds Lafayette Reynolds

    "Scuse me. Who ordered the hamburger... with AIDS? In this restaurant, a hamburger deluxe comes with french fries, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and AIDS! Do anyone got a problem wit dat? Aw baby, it's too late for that. F******s been breeding your cows, raisin' your chickens, even brewin' your beer long before I walked my sexy ass up in this mother f****r!" - Lafayette, dealing with ignorant hicks in his customary way.

    As non-viewers can gleam from a single episode's recap, it can be a little complicated, not to mention exhausting, keeping up with HBO vampire soap True Blood. But amidst all the melodrama, rising body count, and double-triple-quadrupled mumbo-jumbo, what audiences really crave is a character or two that can keep a clear head, and isn't going to be putting up with any of this bull***t. That's about half the reason that Lafayette Reynolds, short order fry cook, one-time drug dealer, witch, and unapologetic gay man, is a fan favorite.

    Before one even gets to the more occult leaning the show has taken him on (as it tends to), Lafayette is a breath of fresh air for constantly saying it like it is, just like in the quote above. It can't have been easy growing up as an out gay man in a po-dunk Southern Town like fictional Bon Temps, Louisiana. But, as with everything else in the crapsack soup that is his world, Lafayette hasn't let it cramp his style. Regularly adorning himself in flamboyant clothing and makeup, Lafayette is hardly a physical weakling, belaying muscles that clearly say he's not taking any comers, thank you for trying. Instead of leaving his sass as a by-the-numbers stereotype, lead writer Alan Ball shows viewers the necessity of such psychological armor, and the private toll its upkeep takes. Lafayette's humor is dry instead of frivolous, and his suspicious nature hardly unearned.

    Of course, psychological armor is of little use against vampires. Or werewolves. Or demons, malevolent muses, faeries, shapeshifters, witches…you get the picture. In the show's four-plus seasons, Lafayette's had his share of woes to weather. He's been kidnapped, and kept a chained prisoner in the basement of vampire club Fangtasia. While suffering PTSD, he was still the one to initiate an intervention in his mercurial cousin, Tara's, relationship/cult involvement. That gets him (and most of the show's cast, through no fault of his) brainwashed by an evil spirit. Season 3 brought him a boyfriend, Jesus, but no end to his troubles, as he winds up playing comforter and go-between repeatedly for the other, increasingly troubled characters. Plus, that handsome nurse boyfriend? A witch. One with good intentions, but an inclination to community activities, leading Lafayette into involvement with a witches' coven. While his powers come to the fore, the entanglement eventually results in Jesus' death at Lafayette's own hand (he was possessed at the time), in a manifestation of the all-too-frequent dead-gay-lover trope.

    On a show where nearly every single character continues to make irrational decisions, and walk into extreme danger with only the barest misgiving, we have no doubt that Lafayette, if anyone, will be the one to retain his senses as the madness continues. After all, given what's happened in the fifth season so far, peace is a long way off.

  8. 8.Tara Maclay Tara Maclay

    Tara Maclay is not just one-half of one of the first legitimate (and sexual!) lesbian relationships on television. She's also a shy, sweet, unflinchingly moral witch who wore dated long skirts and brought positivity to the Scooby Gang. Tara is so much more as a marker for how far representation of queer relationships had come during Buffy The Vampire Slayer's time on television – she also managed to be a fully fleshed out, meaningful character, one fans connected to regardless of a shared sexual orientation.

    Willow, one of the show's main characters, meets Tara in college and quickly develops a relationship with her over their shared practice of witchcraft. Willow and Tara's relationship is significant not only because of it's rarity and explicit sexuality, but also because of the tenderness and care with which they treat one another – they model not only a fantastic gay relationship, but just a fantastic relationship in general.

    Perhaps the most striking thing about Willow and Tara's relationship is that it isn't without hiccups: When Tara is helpless and incapacitated by a hell god, a devastated Willow must take care of her. When Willow becomes addicted to using magic, Tara sets her foot down and establishes boundaries in their relationship, breaking up with her when she betrays her trust and casts spells behind her back. In this regard, Tara and Willow are rendered as real people with real (albeit fantastical) problems. They aren't token gays, they're not hypersexualized and fetishized, nor are they completely desexualized – their presence on the show is normal, and like all other couples, they have their ups and downs.

    When Tara was killed, fans absolutely blew up at Joss Whedon. Part of it was (perhaps justifiable) anger over losing one of the best (and only) lesbian characters on television being killed off. Another part of it, though, was the utter dismay of losing Tara as a character, of losing her lightness and moral compass.

    That's the thing about queer characters – their sexual identity shouldn't be tokenized, it should just be one beautiful part of their multi-faceted identities, one of the many reasons why we should love them as characters. That isn't to say they should be written exactly like straight people – television and culture should celebrate queer characters for who they are, all of their differences included. Tara Maclay, in just three short seasons, captured not only Willow's heart, but the hearts of a legion of fans. Tara and Willow not only set a standard for depictions of queer relationships on nerd television, they were unforgettable characters of an unforgettable television show that has had an enormous impact on countless Buffy fans, and we owe so much to them.

  9. 9.Shore Leave Shore Leave

    We won't beat around the bush, folks. Shore Leave is a blatantly stereotypical gay character. A swishy, limp-wristed, loud-and-proud sailor boy who'll change into nothing but a speedo at the drop of a hat. If there is a stereotype he isn't displaying on The Venture Bros., we haven't seen it. However, what makes it acceptable for our rather swishy friend to be so, well, swishy is this: first, that every character on The Venture Bros. is an exaggerated example of some narrative trope or stereotype, so he is neither the lone gay character nor the lone caricature. And second, all of TVB's characters subvert their stereotype: and in the case of Shore Leave, he is effective -- as a colleague and a killer. In fact, he's probably one of the most intelligent, skilled and valued assassins to ever walk through the doors of S.P.H.I.N.X. (S.P.H.I.N.X.), and the team would probably be seriously lacking without him. His sexuality is out there, for sure. But when on a mission, it's not part of the conversation. He and Brock Samson are partners, peers, eager and happy to work together. Shore Leave is an awesome character who happens to be very flamboyantly gay. Really, you have to admire how incredibly secure and confident he is. There is no bringing him down, and he probably eats homophobes for breakfast. (Take that as you will.)

    Originally a play on the characters of G.I. Joe and the implied machismo that may or may not have been a cover for some guys who liked their fellow soldiers "like that" (as a part of a group of openly gay obvious G.I. Joe parallels who belittle their straight coworkers for wanting to screw women), Shore Leave started as a bit player and quickly became a fan favorite. Not because he was a token flamboyant gay character (for the show has a number of other gay and trans bit players, with Shore Leave perhaps the most prominent) -- because he was a really entertaining and awesome character. Much like another gay character on the show, the Alchemist, Shore Leave is happily and openly living his life while competently performing his duties. Basically, in both cases, their sexuality ain't no thang.

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  • Anonymous

    Although it doesn’t necessarily fall into the purview of the site, I think Omar Little from THE WIRE is another good example.

  • Alisa Kraut

    Hello! What about Captain Jack Harkness?!?!?! HOT, ambisexual and totally badass.

  • Anonymous

    What about the Bi-sexual Succubus Bo from Lost Girl?

  • Terence Ng

    I wish Shore Leave was my best friend. SSSPHINX!

  • Laura

    I will never forgive Joss Whedon for killing Tara. Never. 

  • JustPlainSomething

    I have such a girl crush on Shoreleave and I think The Mary Sue nailed it on the head – he’s a exaggerated character in a show filled to the brim with exaggerated characters, so he’s really just a normal person like anyone else in that universe.

  • Anonymous

    I am incredibly surprised that Kalinda from The Good Wife doesn’t make this list. She’s such a badass that the fact that she’s “flexible” by her own sexual definition is just added bonus. I love seeing characters that are out and proud but it’s also really refreshing to see a character whose sexual identity is just PART of who they are instead of being all of it.

  • John Wao

    My guess is you’ll soon be adding the Doctor’s new companion to that list.

    Honorable mention:

    Max Plum from Happy Endings
    Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother

  • Alex Cranz

    Any LBGTQ list that includes Xena and Gabrielle is a-okay by me. Both actresses confirmed post show that the characters were gay and Xena did get hot and heavy once with a lady on the show.

  • Bri Lance

    What do you guys think about Dean Pelton from Community?  I mean he’s obviously queer and DEFINITELY non-gender-conforming.  It’s true that both of those things are often played for laughs, but I feel like that’s true of every trait of every character on the show.  And the show always seems to treat his various fetishes, etc., in a very straightforward and matter-of-fact nature.

    I dunno, personally he’s one of my favorite characters.  I guess I wouldn’t say that he’s a “badass” though.  

    I’m curious about other people’s take on whether he’s a positive or negative representation.

  • Corey Regalado

    Barney from HIMYM is gay? I’ve only seen a few eps, but I thought he was straight, played by a gay actor.

  • Corey Regalado

    Sam Adama from Caprica is another badass gay guy. Yeah, some critics, Feminist Frequency for one, think he’s actually a negative queer character because he’s a gangster (and I totally disagree), but . . . come on. One can’t argue his badassness.
    Anyways, thanks for this list. I didn’t know about Shuuichi Nitori and shall investigate her more.

  • Erin

    Thank you!  YES!  This list is most definitely not complete without Jack Harkness.  Pardon me, CAPTAIN Jack Harkness.  <3

  • Helen the Dreamer

    For anyone who is interested in Wandering Son, the anime can be watched legally on Crunchyroll (abet the tv broadcast which, due to time constraints, had to merge episodes 10 and 11 into a single episode) and the first two volumes of the manga are out in the US as well (and, since the anime started 30 chapters in with the characters entering middle school, it’s new material to anime-only fans). Oh and the creator has also produced another lovely work called Aoi Hana (Sweet Blue Flowers) which also had an anime about two girls, one a lesbian and the other I think was bisexual with some other LGBT side characters (actually, what I think is the best about WS is that there are quite a few LGBT side characters as well, the story felt more fleshed out for showing that Shuu and Yoshino aren’t the only ones out there and that there is a whole spectrum of queerness).

  • Anonymous

    Anyone who can go out to buy cereal and accidentally rob a drug-house by leaning against the wall to light up on his way back (while wearing a blue silk robe) is about as badass as you can get.

  • John Wao

     Mea culpa. You’re right. I’m confusing the actor with the part he plays.

  • Anonymous

    I love everything but the inclusion of Lafayette. I think the scenes between him and Jesus were handled in a way that almost seems homophobic. While Tara and her girl are butt naked, getting it on in vivid detail, Lafayette are laying together in bed FULLY CLOTHED. If you watch their character’s closely, it’s less like they’re a homosexual couple and more like they’re an asexual one.

  • Sarah

    As the article states, “(we put Jack on our list from last year)”.

  • Tara Green

    I’ve always felt the “nebulous gender” anime in
    Sailor Moon was meant to symbolize 3rd gender/yin/yang in all of us. I found it
    elegantly presented and widely inclusive, especially for a teen audience.

  • Tara Green

     So, so true!!

  • Tara Green

    I think the character is fantastic. So overly stereotypical, yet so completely open and unapologetic, the actor sells it perfectly.

  • Zoe Chevat

     We debated

  • Sparky

    These are Badass characters? Not so sure on that: Lafayette is dogged by homophobic stereotypes, Shore Leave is a grossly offensive stereotype, Tara is yet another dead lesbian, Renly is the medieval manscaping dead-gay who hated the sight of blood and one wasn’t even portrayed as GBLT on the show.

    Is this the best we can do? And if it is, surely it’d be better to criticise this than praise the homophobia?

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    I’m re-watching Buffy (somewhere around episode 13-14 of Season 7 just now) and Willow has a lot less to do as a character without her better half…and Kennedy seems like a last-minute attempt to revitalize her before the end.

  • Nick Gaston

    Shore Leave reminds me of a fun fact…according to series writer Buzz Dixon, GI Joe character Gung-Ho was gay. I think a giant Cajun Marine who’s used picked up Cobra troopers to use as clubs safely counts as “badass.” :)

  • Tara Green

    Yes! If I ever had a sliver of a doubt that a gay actor can’t play straight, NPH would have proven me wrong at every occasion. Barney is mostly an eternally dissatisfied player (of ladies) and most of those men are at little somewhat gay, imo. Obviously, the character of Barney is meant to be deeply  wistful about meeting his true open love. Imo, NPH sells it all – and the character – perfectly well.

  • Tara Green

    I’m a big fan of the Kinsey scale, namely that gay/straight isn’t an absolute, that we all have a given % that we can relate to. I believe NPH has some understanding of men-women stuff – plenty for acting, at which he excels. As a person, it seems he prefers men-men stuff overall, and seems focused on a monogamous family with the man he loves. I like his honesty.

  • Ben Gardner

    Has Diana Barrigan been on any of these lists yet?  Black, lesbian, totally badass FBI agent whose relationship with another woman is simply part of who she is, not a big issue or a token nod to inclusiveness

  • Anonymous

    I guess Emporio Ivankov from One Piece was too clowny to be included even though he is so badass and has a contagious laugh. HE-Haw! 

  • Natasiarose

    Great article! It sucks that there are no couples like Tara and Willow or Xena and Gabby on tv anymore. Boo urns.

  • Cody Sage Fulcher

    To be fair, Tara is “another dead lesbian” but that doesn’t discount her impact on queer women. To totally write her off as a failure and product of heteropatriarchy isn’t fair and absolutely minimizes the fact that she and Willow had a sexual, non-fetishized, complex relationship that was super positive for Buffy fans, especially myself during adolescence.

  • Sparky

    It bothers me to see this whole list presented as such a wonderful thing – the only conceded problem being the lack of POC and trans people – while completely ignoring how problematic, trope laden and homophobic so many of these characters were :( I mean, I get they did a previous list so are left scraping the barrel (which says a lot for the number of GBLT characters on TV) but that doesn’t really excuse throwing out a whole lot of dead, a character who wasn’t actually GBLT on the show and a lot of really offenive stereotypes and praising them uncritically.

  • Timothy Brannan

    Thank you for mentioning Tara and how her death was a blow to Whedon.  The fans are still angry and frankly that whole “Buffy gets a last wish” story he floated at a con a few years back sounds like BS.  Whedon realized he made the wrong move and had to lie (again) to get out of it.

  • Anonymous

    I know “badass” is subjective but Omar Little has a case for being the most badass television character ever so he feels a bit of a glaring omission especially when the artice mentions a lack of queer people of colour on television, And while I’m on the subject of The Wire, Kima Greggs almost certainly deserves a place too.

    P.S. Renly and Loras are far from the only gay characters in A Song of Ice and Fire too (though admittedly other than one or two of them the rest are fairly minor characters).

  • Lake Desire

    Plus, Lucy Lawness and Renee O’Connor acted out a marriage proposal in character at the most recent Xena Con.

  • oaktree

    I’m so amused that no characters from The L Word ended up on this list. And frankly, I’m totally ok with that, since that show jumped like, twelve sharks in the end, but. Yeah.

  • Anonymous

    This is a HUGE problem with queers on TV: sexy femme lesbians having graphic sex and gay dudes sitting next to each other in bed. The Wire was widely praised for the explicitness of Omar’s relationships, which were…not. Especially compared to Kima’s.

    Seriously, I don’t understand how people don’t think that TV is catered completely to straight white dudes.

  • Riviera

    I’ve always felt that Kennedy was a sort of last-minute Tara replacement… it’s a shame because she’s not a bad character, but the whole process is rushed and feels forced. :(

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    That was terrifically written, fascinating and sensitive, but I’m afraid I also have to ask why a particular character was missing.

    Agron, one of the main characters in the Spartacus television series on Starz. He’s gorgeous, fearless, badass as all hell and also gay, which–historically accurately or not–is a complete non-issue to his colleague rebels. We’ve even seen some relatively explicit sex between him and his lover Nasir on the show, because Starz is all about the fanservice, regardless of gender or sexuality. Best yet, Agron and Nasir are one of the only two couples in the whole three-year series so far who’ve survived.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    My husband loved that show. I’ve never been a fan of soaps, so I never did, but I’ll admit some of the characters were badass until the meeting of the shark and the waterskis.

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    OMG I forgot her! Yes, yes she is awesome and should have been here. I think the problem is the White Collar has a rather small audience, and as shows go isn’t really geeky.

  • Robyn

    He is all-around awesome.

  • Adam R. Charpentier

    Yeah, the whole process felt very organic with Tara, but Kennedy shows up, declares that she’ll be bunking with Willow, and the next time you see them they’re together…then they’re apart because Willow does a spooky spell…then they’re together again, in a matter of two episodes.

  • Anonymous

    I have to co-sign Omar.  And Kima while I’m at it.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not sure that having to put up with bullshit or being dead makes someone not badass.  And if Shore Leave was nothing but a stereotype he wouldn’t be a stone killer and an accomplished soldier. I’m not going to disagree that there are problematic aspects of to Shore Leave’s character, but he’s more three dimensional than you’re giving him credit for.

  • Francesca M

    Yeah I never accepted the Kennedy thing. I was like its barely been a year since Tara died, when they brought in Kennedy it was a ‘OH NOES WE ANGERED THE GAYS WE’D BEST GET WILLOW A NEW LADEE’ To me it felt like ‘oh we can just replace her’ and no. They really couldn’t. It was just.. lame.

  • Sparky

     Uh-huh because the genre totally deserves the benefit of the doubt, really? I’m disinclined to extend it – especially when we put it in this company and see what awful options (albeit dubiously praised) there really are out there.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think we’re praising them uncritically — as a queer person, I approached this list from the position of growing up queer and growing up using this characters as a method for my survival. I’m sorry there isn’t enough lengthy unpacking of the intricacies of homophobia in this slideshow. I can’t even watch shows like Glee, for example, because it’s a pile of problematic crap. Same for campaigns like Dan Savage’s It Gets Better, that is RIFE with horrible classist, racist, neoliberal bullshit. But I will never, ever totally discount those shows/campaigns on their face, just because I know countless queer kids are benefiting from it, even just a little. It sounds like a cop out, but queer survival comes first in my mind, and if problematic queer characters boost queer survival, enjoying them is fine by me.

    In any case, I apologize that we were too flip, that definitely wasn’t the intention. The intention was more, look at the bottom of the barrel, but hey, weren’t/aren’t these characters important to us?

  • Terence Ng

    Really? I thought Kennedy was a clear plot device to write about getting past the death of a lover. That’s basically her most important function: giving Willow a sense of attraction to someone other than the one she lost, which results in conflicting emotions, and then learning how to move past the sense of guilt. Anything Kennedy does with Willow after that point is pretty irrelevant (and was).

  • Anonymous

    Indeed, it would have been much more humorous on a cartoon that parodies action cartoon tropes if he was instead a gay character with no notable characteristics, whatsoever. Jesus, pull the stick out of your arse.

  • Anonymous

    Also, the more I re-read your second post here, the more I see it’s empty bloviating and anger with no actual point. You completely fail to understand the notion of putting forward a stereotype in order to subvert it. It’s people like you who have no understanding of comedy as social commentary and would instead limit such comment to dry, uninteresting tracts that I’m sure you’tr well-versed in.

  • Anonymous

    Kima Greggs, also! I’ve only seen one season so far but she was awesome.

  • SarahAndrea Royce

    Poor, poor Ivanova.

    Not revoking the relationship with her xenophobic ex was not that hard, but then Talia. It was hinted that her relationship with Talia was very special because of her latent telepathy. And after the person(ality) she loved dies, she is emotionally abused and traumatized by what replaced it, giving her real problems to built up the trust that is needed for giving in to a relationship, and Markus was so shy…

    It was reviled in the epiloge that the ability to have a loving relationship finally died in the 21 years after Markus sacrifice. She even named the TVTrope “All Love Is Unrequited”.

  • Anonymous

    Haruku and Michiru were definitely beacons for me, as a teenager trying to get to grips with my sexuality. I’d already been a massive Sailor Moon fan, and it was like a light going on, knowing there were others out there.

    Thinking about their final scene in Stars still makes me tear up.

  • Anonymous

    The L Word is such a guilty pleasure for me. It’s fluff, plain and simple, even if it frequently drives me insane.

  • Anonymous

    Um… Renly was portrayed as gay (gay, not GLBT, he was neither a lesbian nor trans*). He had several scenes together with Loras where the only way it could’ve been more obvious that they were pre- or post-coital was if they’d been shown wiping themselves off. He wasn’t explicitly stated as gay in the books, to my knowledge, but that’s a different barrel of fish.

    I also think that you can’t dismiss him as just another dead gay, when long lifespans are not a known trait amongst the cast and his death wasn’t in any way connected to his sexuality.

    The same could be said for Tara. She was far from the first or last character to die in that show, and her sexuality was only one part of her character.

  • Anonymous

    The manga is also being released by Fantagraphics Books for anyone that’s interested.  It’s a really nice release, the volumes are all hard cover and have some full-color pages in the front instead being all black and white (like most manga).  The third volume just came out, and I would really strongly recommend buying them if the series sounds interesting to you.
    Really hoping to see more of Shimura’s work get brought over.  I’m a big fan of Aoi Hana as well. 

  • Anonymous

     Another fine choice would have been Nikki Wade from Bad Girls. Not only was she out and proud, she ruled the roost and got the girl in the end. Besides, the chemistry between Nikki and Helen just about burned a hole in my screen.

  • Wulfy

     The ‘All Love is Unrequited’ scene still haunts me from my childhood, it was such an emotionally charged moment.

    On the subject of Ivanova, I don’t quite agree with the article’s assertion that Ivanova’s bisexuality was never confirmed, given Ivanova’s confession to Delenn “I think I loved Talia”. Perhaps not the boldest statement, but as close as Ivanova ever got to actually acknowledging she could be in love. So for me, that’s a big tick.

  • Lisa Still Smouldering

     I have to counter the ‘near-sociopathic’ comment about Sam. While he may have seemed such at a glance on Caprica, he really seemed to do it more out of duty and as his ‘job’ in life, in his family. Joseph somehow got out of the ghettos and managed to go to law school, but one would suspect that Sam fought and won money to make sure he stayed there. The passing comments and reveal of his husband were quite impressive in their matter-of-factness. That Sam was essentially a mob assassin was just his ‘day job’ as it were, IMO.

    That said, someone who hasn’t looked beyond the original text of BSG wouldn’t know that either Gaeta or Admiral Cain were gay. Shame you didn’t include them in your list or at least include links to point to discussions about Razor and the web series (both fantastic secondary texts-is the web series on the DVDs? I had originally watched them on Sci Fi’s web site)

  • SarahAndrea Royce

     Maye TVTropes needs a trope that exceeds “Tearjerker” that is called “Heartbreaker”

  • SarahAndrea Royce

    Hm, speaking of Doctor Who. Whats about Ace? 

  • AmeliaJessicaPond

    Apparently, according to Moffat, somehow we were supposed to figure this out, River is bisexual, too.

    And quite frankly River is just as badass as Captain Jack.

    Both deserve to be on the list.

    /ohmygod can you imagine if they met oh god the flirting/

  • Emily Aoife Somers

    Fair points on ‘Wandering Son’ — but please keep in mind the original Japanese context of publication and its terribly rigid symbolic order of gender in the school system. That the trans girl hates sports, etc, may seem like conventional gender performance (and it is, sure) the effect in the original Japanese (since she’s straddling two genders in terms of who she wants to be and what falsities she must hide behind), these qualities mark her as exceedingly gender non-confirming.  It’s hard to explain–yes, it’s intended to make her more ‘girl’, but it’s more complicated since so much of the manga is about contravening the boy that is continually imposed upon her.

    And besides — she likes baking. Some trans women do. I make a pretty good vegan kasutera myself. 

  • I. S.

    I’d just like to point out that those of us who were watching Babylon 5 from the beginning noticed things regarding Ivanova’s & Talia’s relationship well before the point you mention – that really was the culmination of nearly an entire season’s build-up.

  • Shard Aerliss

    I never got to the end of Xena (went off to uni and had no TV, and really, after the Hope fiasco I couldn’t be bothered with it) so was always mildly confused when people construed my liking the show as a sign I was a lesbian… because apparently we can’t watch shows about characters that are different to us. I always assumed people were just being idiots; claiming two people can’t be very close friends without it being sexual.

    Then I learnt Raimi and co ran with the whole bisexual thing, which was cool, for the time XD

    It’s a pity they never went that way with Iolaus. Well they kinda did when Michael Hurst was playing a woman. No man has ever looked sexier as a panto dame.

    Oh gods… I’ve just imagined the whole Dahok thing with Tony Todd and Gina Torres’ roles reversed. I may have broken my own mind.


    Lafayette Reynolds needs his own show. I managed three, maybe four episodes of True Blood and he was totally the best thing in it.

  • Shard Aerliss

    Tara was killed to deal the final blow to Willow’s psyche (and because Joss enjoys killing his most loved characters), not because she was lesbian.

  • Shard Aerliss

    Agron and Nasir are so sweet… I fear for Nasir’s safety in the next series because of this. Steve DeKnight is, after all, a Whedon alumnus.

    So okay, I fear for everyone’s safety in the next series… they’re all going to die!!

    I liked Barca and Pietros too. And before anyone complains they were killed off; almost everyone has been killed off. They were a bit clumsy as gay characters (lessons were definitely learned for Agron and Nasir) but they were unashamedly in love (which is why Barca was killed off, I think; blow to the fans… just like all the other deaths. Oh Varro!).

  • Taste_is_Sweet

    I completely agree about Barca and Pietros, especially about their deaths. In Spartacus’ world, no one can ever truly be happy. Which is why Agron and Nasir are so freaking doomed it’s not even funny.

  • ferrous_wyrm

     Hell yes.
    No Omar? No Kima? No way.

  • Anonymous

    The Genre is Satire. That’s what the Venture Brothers is, it’s a satire of adventure cartoons. Why doesn’t it deserve the benefit of the doubt? Because you say so? And you didn’t even address what I said. Shore Leave is more than just a stereotype. And considering that The Alchemist is also gay, you must realize that the writers are capable of depicting gay characters with more nuance than simple stereotype. You’re, like, inventing reasons to hate these characters, WTF for?

  • JW

    Having read the Season 8 and Season 9 comics so far… I have to agree. I didn’t like Kennedy in the actual episodes she first appeared in – she seemed really pushy and obnoxious, and sort of an obvious “ugh, alright, we’re sorry for killing Tara off, will you finally believe us that we weren’t doing it just because she’s gay if we give you a GAY SLAYER and pair her with Willow, regardless of chemistry!? SO THERE.”. But then in the comics sequels? She’s actually not a bad character. In fact, she has it more together than Buffy herself! Very adaptable person, despite the rough edges. I never liked her much in the TV series, but she’s grown on me in the comics…

    … you know, the comics where she’s broken up with Willow? Sigh.

    I won’t be one of those fans who’s like “they never should have killed Tara!!!”, because you know, there was narrative reason for it – narrative reason that was undermined by the response the next season, which was largely motivated by the bitching fans.

    And I do say “bitching”, because though I loved Tara and miss her greatly, as I’ve put it before – WHEDON DOES THIS TO ALMOST EVERY HAPPY COUPLE. If you’re a character who’s happy and interesting and likable, you will go through hell, just to see if you can survive it, and/or get killed off for emotional impact on both viewer and other characters. This is a thing with Whedon, and people KNEW it before it happened to Tara. They’re just so attached to her, they don’t want to see it, or feel she should be an exception “because she was a lesbian”, which would be more understandable if this weren’t also how straight people are treated on the same damn show.

    I’ve told people this, and had them respond “well, that’s just melodramatic then” and I’m like, “YES, congratulations! You know what the genre of melodrama is! Guess what series fits into that genre in addition to its other genres, to the extent that Wikipedia even lists it as an official genre of the series? Yep, BUFFY! Tell me again why you watched this show for a whole six seasons before getting pissed at it for doing what it constantly does? Oh right, because it’s not doing it to a straight character for a change. Yes, because that’s equal treatment, as opposed to just silly.”

    …I’ve even been accused of being anti-gay when I pointed this out! Considering I’m queer myself, and not terribly closeted at that, that was kind of hilarious.

    Now, do I wish her death had been less stupidly-rendered? An epic sacrifice or something, instead of a stray bullet? More time for Willow and her to say goodbye? Hell yes! All of that. But I’m not gonna claim that the show is anti-gay just for killing her off to emotionally torture her lover, when it has done that to it’s STRAIGHT TITLE CHARACTER* since the beginning. At least Willow wasn’t forced to kill her own lover, because that has happened at least once or twice on the show, you know, to other, hetero, characters. Including the title character.

    I don’t think this would still bother me after all these years, if most of those same people wouldn’t complain about Kennedy’s creation. It’s like – look, everything you thought was off about Kennedy, such as her glomming on to the grieving Willow, IS YOUR FAULT, because you’re the ones who were complaining loud and clear about how you thought Tara getting offed meant Willow was “being punished for being gay”.

    Do I acknowledge that the writers still could have done a better job? Well yes. But they still probably wouldn’t have included Kennedy at all, or certainly not in that context, if they hadn’t been pressured into “proving” they weren’t homophobic for something that, in the context of the show as a whole, should never have labeled that.

    Kennedy, meanwhile, is a much more interesting character without her relationship with Willow being a thing that is still happening. For that matter, so is Willow (over in the Angel and Faith comic).

    *I say “straight title character”… in the comics, Buffy is revealed to be sliiiiiiiiightly bi (in that, during a period of great stress, she briefly has and according to her, enjoys, a one-night stand with a woman), but she still seems to favor guys and there was no real indication of bisexuality before the comics, certainly not before Tara’s death, so, the point still stands I feel, especially since it was never a same-sex lover of Buffy’s that was offed (um, so far. Because knock on wood, they haven’t done that yet to Satsu, though frankly, she also hasn’t been in the comics much lately either. Then again, they’re already broken up with the understanding it was a one-time thing, so maybe she’ll be okay since they’re already Not A Happy Couple :P).

    Apologies for the rantage. :P Some of that has been festering for some reason.

  • JW

    I would like it to be known that people should not use phrases like “the fans are…”. It’s not good to generalize, particularly in a fandom like Whedon’s, which is extremely diverse, and very opinionated.

    Not all of us are “still angry”. I do wish her death had been something more impressive than “hit by a stray bullet”, that we’d had more of a long scene goodbye, and that the lack of Buffy-style resurrection hadn’t been bs’d away… but you can’t tell me you didn’t realize Whedon had a penchant for melodrama and killing beloved characters off until SIX SEASONS in, because that would tell me you weren’t paying attention for six whole seasons.

    I know many of my fellow queers (hey-o! does this surprise you?) who were fans of the ship want to claim it as a homophobic thing… but it wasn’t. It was done for dramatic reasons, to provide angst for Willow. Just like it was done numerous times to straight couples, many of whom didn’t last even a whole season, much less over two seasons. It could have been done better, but just because it was done AT ALL (which is often the argument I see), doesn’t mean it was “because she was gay”.

    Personally, though it’s my favorite Buffyverse ‘ship, and though I wish it could have been done better, I’m well past being “still angry” that she was killed.

    So please, stop pretending to speak for all of us. “Many fans” may be “still angry”, but “the fans” is a much wider, more diverse group than you’re making it sound like.

  • JW

    I have nothing to add to this, other than it’s pretty much my same experience. Right down to tearing up at that scene… in fact, I was watching it on a tiny computer screen in RealPlayer format fansubs (so yeah, this was YEAAAARS ago, heh), and none of that was enough to distract from how moving that whole bit was.

    Haruka and Michiru were my first ship, and will always be my favorite.

  • Sara Suzanne Berg

    In regards to Wandering Son, the manga is different from the anime and goes all the way until graduation. Not to mention it has another character in the show who questions her gender in the beginning, as well as a gay character who also has gender issues. The ending of the manga, which wrapped up recently, had me bawling.