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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Delhi South chapter.

We seldom recognize how the media we consume has an intrinsic impact on us, in good ways and bad. Navigating your sexuality is tough, no doubt, but finding representation in media helps profoundly. A safe space, a sense of familiarity, and security. Here’s a (somewhat) chronological list of 5 queer characters that might help you feel okay through a confusing time.

Mulan (Disney)

It’s not hard to recognize the uniqueness of “Reflection,” which is why so many LGBTQIA+ individuals identify with the song. Looking back, we see that the queer interpretation may not have been immediately apparent to our closeted, younger selves. However, after giving it another listen, one can clearly see that “Reflection” is a song about repressing your true nature and innate urges. Similar to the sense of living in the closet, this repression results in solitude. By the film’s conclusion, Mulan is neither the ideal bride nor the ideal soldier. She has established herself in the center. We are not sure how Mulan views herself; we simply know that it’s more honest and suitable than how she initially perceived herself.

Raymond Holt (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)

If your only experience with black gay men was through television, you could assume they are all showy and “extra” (wrongly so). In all good, humorous ways, for the sake of the program, Captain Holt continually challenges and reclaims gay clichés; nonetheless, he never does so intending to make fun of queer individuals. He merely expresses his pride in himself and the people he loves in his own way, which isn’t the worst thing for a questioning 14-year-old to learn. 

Cameron Tucker (Modern Family)

Let’s face it, not a lot of us could handle being an animatedly dramatic gay man with an unquenchable thirst for approval, a love of the stage, costumes, and creative projects, who also excels at football like a boss and loves clowning with a flaming passion. It would not be going too far to say that Cam serves as an inspiration to all Modern Family fans AND more. We have learned to always be authentic and proud of who we are from him, whether for our unwavering love of the spotlight or small vices like late-night nibbles. Cam is a man who doesn’t hesitate to be authentic.

Casey (Atypical)

Casey’s perfect relationship started to deteriorate as she began to “like” a female classmate at her new school (Izzie). Though Casey ultimately selected Izzie out of her love for both of them, this story works so well because this arc was resolved gradually and in an incredibly believable way. The process of coming out and coming to terms with who you are takes time. Very few TV programs actually acknowledge this. These tales are too frequently hurried to add drama or advance the plot. Thankfully, Casey’s journey was handled much more subtly in Atypical. Right at the end of S2, she and Izzie hold hands after enough slow burn to last a lifetime, and their first kiss finally happens in S3.

Eric (Sex Education)

While coming from a very traditional family, Eric isn’t hesitant to display himself how he deems fit. Eric is the yin to Otis’ yang, exuding confidence and spontaneity in spades. This is especially true of his outstanding fashion choices. He makes no concessions when leading a genuinely authentic lifestyle, whether it involves dressing as a drag queen or donning traditional Ghanaian garb while wearing makeup. Eric demonstrates that being expressive and self-assured in your queerness is acceptable.

Personally, revisiting these characters has kindled a new appreciation. For Mulan– we wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t sparked a curiosity. For Holt and Cam– for making sure we don’t get caught up in conventions or dull our shine just to fit in. For Casey and Eric– for making it feel okay to be young and confused and for being an example of how things turn out okay. Amongst others, finding these characters was finding myself. From having to look for subtle scraps of representation in a Disney movie to being able to relate to more nuanced characters as an “adult,” mainstream media has, thankfully, come a long way. 

Shambhavi Chaudhary

Delhi South '24

Shambhavi is a 5'7" tall vessel of caffeinated energy, she lives for sitcoms, and half her vocabulary is slang/completely made-up. A student of history from Lady Shri Ram College for Women, she spends her time avoiding her readings, but somehow still dwelling on the past.