Top 23 Most Influential LGBTQ Characters On TV Right Now

Believe it or not, the first openly gay lead character to ever be included on a TV show was Will in Will & Grace in 1998. Luckily, ever since then, the entertainment world began to slowly embrace sexual diversity, and during the past decade, many shows have introduced a whole new cast of LGBTQ+ characters. So here’s a list of the 23 most beloved and influential LGBTQ+ characters that are on TV right now.

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#23. Frankie, “Better Things”

Pamela Adlon‘s Emmy-winning show has many of the best queer characters on tv right now. With 4 LGBTQ characters on-screen, Frankie is one of the most visible and of them all (the others being Rich, Mer, and possibly Sam).

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Frankie’s sweet and quiet middle child personality is brilliantly portrayed by Hannah Alligood and the writers have treated the child’s possible genderqueerness softly and respectfully. It’s not until Season 3 in which Frankie embraces their new gender.

#22. Matthew, “Big Mouth”

Big Mouth is a comedy-drama animated show that follows the life of a group of teenage friends and how they deal with puberty. During this process, most of the characters begin to discover their sexual identity and orientation.

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Andrew, on the one hand, finds out he’s straight after undergoing a major identity crisis. Matthew, on the other hand, comes out as gay. His character, voiced by the Girls star Andrew Rannells, is one of the sweetest ones!

#21. Taylor, “Billions”

Billions is a drama TV series about the legal feud between U.S. Attorney Preet Bahara and hedge fund manager Steve Cohen. Not only does the show feature an amazing cast, but it also became the first show to ever star an openly non-binary actor in a leading role.

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Of course, we’re talking about Asia Kate Dillon, who plays the role of financial analyst Taylor. This role earned them a Critics’ Choice Television Award nomination for the Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category.

#20. Leila, “The Bisexual”

The Bisexual is a hilarious yet moving TV dramedy that follows the life of Leila (played by Desiree Arkavan), a young woman whose life changes after her longlasting girlfriend breaks up with her.

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The breakup triggers an identity crisis in Leila, who ends up experiencing heterosexual encounters and relationships. She struggles to come to terms with her bisexuality, making this a story about identity, belonging, and self-discovery.

#19. Anissa, “Black Lightning”

Released last year, Black Lightning is a drama sci-fi show about a school principal who hides mysterious superpowers. The show features one of the first queer superheroes, Anissa, commonly known as Thunder.

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Played by actress Nafessa Williams, Thunder is lead character Black Lightning’s daughter. Apart from fighting crime and saving the world, she engages in a romantic relationship with Grace Choi, another lesbian superhero who hides a dark mysterious past.

#18. Todd, “BoJack Horseman”

If you’re a BoJack geek like I am, then I’m sure the release of the season finale on Netflix was the best Christmas present you could’ve ever gotten this year. What I love the most about BoJack Horseman is the complexity of its characters, and today, we’re gonna talk a bit about Todd Chavez.

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During the first seasons, Todd is highly insecure when it comes to interacting with women, especially when girls hit on him. It’s only towards the end of the 3rd season when he comes out as an asexual. He even develops a dating app for asexuals! When will that be released to the market?

#17. Holt And Rosa, “Brooklyn Nine-Nine”

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a comedy-crime show that follows the steps of goofy detective Jake Peralta, who constantly clashes with his command officer Captain Ray Holt in his effort to solve crimes.

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It’s not common to see many queer characters in detective shows, so kudos on the scriptwriters, who chose to write lead character Captain Holt as gay. The fact that he’s the boss and a cop makes is queerness even more unusual, doesn’t it? However, we shouldn’t forget about Rosa! Not only is her character bisexual, but she is played by bisexual actress Stephanie Beatriz.

#16. Theo, “The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina”

If you were raised in the 90s, then I’m sure you went mad when Netflix announced the release of the live-action horror show The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Not only are the show’s two seasons thrilling, but they also feature a big LGBTQ+ representation!

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Let’s begin with the fact that Sabrina’s cousin, Ambrose (played by Chance Perdomo) is gay, and let’s face it, how hot is he!? But our favorite LGBTQ+ character from Sabrina was, without a doubt, Theo. Played by Lachaln Witson, Theo first comes out as non-binary and then transitions to a man.

#15. Lionel, “Dear White People”

Released in 2017, Dear White People is an American dramedy that centers on a group of black college students who face different types of discrimination and racism. According to many critics, this series represented a turning point in the way that gay black men have historically been portrayed in films and TV.

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Our favorite gay character from this show is Lionel Higgins, a media student at Winchester University. He’s extremely shy and extremely insecure when it comes to dating, yet he’s so adorable that you won’t help but love him.

#14. Anne Lister, “Gentleman Jack”

Premiered in 2019, Gentlemen Jack is a British period-drama series about LGBTQ+ landowner and cryptic diarist Anne Lister. Lister is certainly one of the very few public queer figures of the early 19th century, which makes the show all the more interesting.

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While Lister’s former lover Vere Hobart leaves her for a man, she then establishes a dangerous relationship with another woman. Lister records all her sexual and romantic encounters in a diary, but writing in codes that only she knew how to interpret.

#13. Yolanda And Arthie, “Glow”

After the first season of Glow was released, many fans reproached that the show wasn’t gay enough. Fortunately, the fans’ prayers were answered in the second season, when creators Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch chose to introduce a new gay character, Yolanda.

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Played by Shakira Barrera, Yolanda is a gay Mexican American stripper and boxer. As the season evolves, she falls for Arthi (played by Sunita Mani), another professional female wrestler.

#12. Maia, “The Good Fight”

Scottish actress Rose Leslie first won over our hearts after playing Ethel on Downtown Abbey and Ygritte on Game of Thrones. But her roles keep getting better and better, as she went on to play fan-favorite Maia in the crime drama show The Good Fight.

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Maia plays the role of a young lawyer whose reputation has been destroyed after her family was involved in a financial scandal. It’s true, the scriptwriters could’ve added a bit more spice to her love life, but still, she rocks!

#11. Emily, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

Winner of 3 Golden Globes and 3 Primetime Emmys, the dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale is one of the greatest series of this century. It follows the story of June, a young woman who must live and work as a concubine under a ruthless dictatorship.

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Unlike many series in this list, The Handmaid’s Tale is far from the typical happy queer story, as Hulu has a fateful destiny. However, she’s one of the boldest characters on the show, as she refuses to let the theocratic dictators deter her from living her truth.

#10. Villanelle, “Killing Eve”

Winner of one Golden Globe, HBO drama series Killing Eve is definitely one of the greatest hits of this 2019. It follows the life of an intelligence investigator and an assassin who become mutually obsessed with each other’s lives.

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Lead character Villanelle, played by Jodie Comer, is a bisexual psychopath who spends as much time killing people as seducing them. There is an inextricable sexual tension between both characters, and that makes the series even more enticing.

#9. Eliot, “The Magicians”

The Magicians is a fantasy-mystery show about a group of students who discover that the magical creatures they read about during their childhood years were real and posed a serious threat to humanity. Fantasy films don’t usually include LGBTQ+ characters, but this is gladly an exception to the rule.

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Lead character Quentin (played by Jason Ralph) has undeniable chemistry with Elliot, an alcoholic magic student. However, it’s not only until the 4th season when they take their friendship to the next level and become sexual partners.

#8. Blanca; Elektra; Damon; Candy; Angel; Pray Tell, “Pose”

It was given that Pose would appear on our top 10, right? Set in the late 80s and early 90s, this drama series depicts the New York drag culture and ball scene. So, obviously, trans women are at the center of the spotlight.

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While most characters are LGBTQ+, my personal favorite is the flamboyant MC Pray Tell, played by Broadway star Billy Porter. We can’t deny it, Porter is a diva both on and off-stage!

#7. Toni Topaz, “Riverdale”

The American crime-drama show Riverdale has captivated audiences worldwide and has even become a cult classic among the younger generations. While the romance between Kevin and Cheryl stole the spotlight in the first season, we shouldn’t forget the show’s queer side.

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Surely, we all loved Toni Topaz (played by Vanessa Morgan), as she’s the rebellious badass we all wanted to be when we were teens. Being openly bisexual, she’s the first LGBTQ+ character to be included in the show.

#6. Elliot, “Search Party”

Search Party is a crime-comedy that revolves around 4 20-year-olds who become wrapped up in a mystery after one of them suddenly disappears. John Early, who takes on the role of Elliot Goss, is the one who steals the limelight.

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Early has played many gay characters throughout his prominent career, but none have made us laugh as much as Elliot!

As a kid, I was so desperate to see queer people on screen, and it really meant a lot to me when I [did](…) [I’ve] been able to find a balance where the homosexuality is not a joke, but it’s also not completely erased in an attempt to make the character more palatable”, the actor said.

#5. Eric, “Sex Education”

In a matter of months, Sex Education has become one of the greatest classics in TV history. The show follows the life of Otis, a sexually repressed teenager with a sex therapist mother, who launches a secret sex therapy clinic at school together with his badass.

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Sure, Otis is extremely adorable, but his best friend Eric is the one who shines the most. While Otis is an introvert, Eric is a total diva, who not only has the guts to come out to his Ghanian family but also ignites a romance with the school bully.

#4. Ian, “Shameless”

The American comedy-drama show Shameless has been airing since 2011, and guess what? In the following season, one of our favorite characters is making an unexpected comeback! We’re talking about Ian, our favorite redhaired heartthrob in the fiction world.

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Played by Cameron Monaghan, Ian was a regular during the first 8 seasons, during which he had an on-again-off-again relationship with Mickey and a quick dalliance with trans boy Trever. He was written off the 9th season but here he is, back in the game!

#3. Ryan, “Special”

Premiered in 2019, Special is a comedy series about a gay man with cerebral palsy who tries to overcome his difficulties and pursue his dreams. It was written, produced, and starred by Ryan O’Connell, and it’s actually based on his memoir I’m Special: And Other Lies We Tell Ourselves.

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This show transformed the way in which disability is represented in Hollywood. While people with disabilities are usually portrayed as sexless and deprived of wishes and aspirations, Ryan is an ambitious, sincere, and horny guy, and of course, we mean it in a good way.

#2. Mateo, “Superstore”

Nico Santos has become the talk of the town ever since he landed his breakthrough role in the comedy series Crazy Rich Asians, but ever wondered how he rose to stardom?

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His first major role was that of Mateo in the comedy series Superstore. He plays a gay Filipino immigrant who has a secret romantic relationship with co-worker Jeff Sutton (played by Michael Bunin). Our hearts literally stopped beating when the rest of the team found out they were together!

#1. Eddy And Emma, “Vida”

Created by queer scriptwriter Tanya Saracho, Vida is a drama show about Emma and Lyn, two Mexican-American sisters who return to their hometown in an attempt to unveil the truth behind their mother’s identity.

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Emma, played by Mishel Prada, ignites a romance with Eddy Martinez, played by non-binary Latin-American actor Ser Anzoategui. Not only has this series paved the way for a new generation of trans actors and actresses, but it also deals with significant issues such as gender and queer identity and family ties.

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    Hernán Tamargo

    Teacher. Political Scientist. Writer. Feminist... and much more!

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