11 LGBTQ+ Characters who Rocked the Screen

It isn’t often that the LGBT+ community is graced with a queer character who is well-rounded, complex, and offers good representation. It’s even rarer for them to be presented as a strong hero. So, here is a list of some of our favourites from film and TV.

  1. 1. Yara Greyjoy, Game of Thrones

    While not canonically gay in the books, Yara’s character was casually introduced as gay in 2016 when she kissed and then went to bed with a woman in a tavern. Presented as a total NBD, the scene has been praised for making her sexuality something that feels natural and normal, rather than a shocking revelation.

    Gemma Whelan plays Yara superbly, having been hailed an “aggressive fighter” on screen for her warrior prowess and a “loving mother” as an actress, breastfeeding her daughter on set.

  2. 2. Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn Nine-Nine

    A crime-fighting bisexual Latina who makes grown men weep, Rosa Diaz is a force to be reckoned with. In 2016, Stephanie Beatriz, who plays Rosa in the cop comedy, casually announced her bisexuality on Twitter, and her character came out in the fifth season. The blunt “I’m dating a woman. I’m bi” felt on form with her character, and viewers have been praising the writers for their handling of Rosa’s sexuality.

    The show explores the theme of what family means for the LGBT+ community through Rosa coming out to her disapproving parents. Captain Holt, the openly gay police captain, tells her in the same episode, “every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.”

  3. 3. Paul 'Jesus' Rovia, The Walking Dead

    Jesus is one of the more self-possessed characters of the zombie series and his ‘coming-out’ was perfectly in character as he casually mentioned previous “boyfriends” in 2016.

    As a loyal ambassador, escape artist, and all-round fan-favourite, Jesus is another canonically gay character from the comics who is rounded, developed, and badass.

  4. 4. Willow Rosenberg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    Joss Whedon changed the world with Buffy and its characters, but none more so than with Willow’s character. He introduced her as a red-haired, shy, Jewish computer-wiz and followed her progression alongside Buffy to becoming a witch and a woman comfortable with her sexuality.

    Canonically, Willow identifies as lesbian after meeting fellow Wicca, Tara, and forming one of the longest-running (and sweetest) relationships in the show – it is also her kiss with Tara which became one of the first ever lesbian kisses on prime-time television in 2001. Together, they fight addiction, demons, discrimination, and, when Tara loses her sanity in a crushing episode, Willow becomes her carer; the two embody couple goals.

  5. 5. Sophia Burset, Orange is the New Black

    From the first episode of hit prison-drama, Orange is the New Black, Laverne Cox flourishes in the character of trans-woman Sophia Burset, a convicted credit card fraudster who works in the prison hair salon. It’s always brilliant to see trans actors play trans roles and even better when, like Sophia, the character is well-developed and experiences their own conflicts.

    Sophia struggles with the difficulties of being a mother from prison, medical accessibility for a trans WOC, inmate abuse, politics in the justice system, and complex female relationships in ways that are heart-warming, heart-breaking, and fantastically human.

  6. 6. Theo Putnam, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

    Originally the non-binary Susie Putnam, Theo comes out in Part Two of the teen supernatural series and is mostly accepted by his close friends and basketball team. While viewers expressed discomfort at some of the physical and verbal abuse the character experienced in Part One, many more trans fans welcomed the realistic portrayal.

    Lachlan Watson, the non-binary actor who plays Theo, influenced the writers to hold off on Theo’s formal coming out, explaining “labels aren’t everything. Susie [Theo] is on an ongoing queer journey, just like myself.”

  7. 7. Captain Jack Harkness, Doctor Who/Torchwood

    The pansexual, crime-fighting space-traveller is one of Doctor Who’s recurring heart-throbs. First introduced to the show in 2005, Captain Jack is played by openly gay actor John Barrowman and flirts shamelessly with men, women, aliens, and everything in between.

    Captain Jack, and his actor, break a lot of boundaries, most prominently the idea of gendered presentation. He owns the fluidity of femininity and masculinity, waking a generation to the fact that camp men can still storm a spaceship with a gun and win battles against entire armies.

  8. 8. Moira, The Handmaid's Tale

    In the hit drama, based on the speculative dystopian novel by Margaret Atwood, Samira Wiley plays Moira, a lesbian woman held captive by the oppressive theocratic government who escapes the Handmaid programme. Before the government took power, Moira regularly attended marches and protests, and being a handmaid couldn’t quell her rage; she fights her way out of Gilead with a cattle-prod and leaves chaos in her wake.

    Despite erring from the novel a lot, I am a big fan of how the show empowers Moira’s character. She continues her fight against the systematic patriarchal oppression and does so beautifully.  

  9. 9. Eric Effiong, Sex Education

    If you haven’t seen Sex Education yet, get onto Netflix immediately.

    While openly gay in school, Eric is closeted at home and struggles with coming out to his conservative Christian father. Together, Eric and his father stumble through his discovery of his identity, with Eric helping his Dad understand his sexuality and gender expression.

    Ncuti Gatwa, the Scottish-Rwandan actor who plays Eric, has been praised for stealing the stage with his epic portrayal of a gay black teen who is rich in depth and development.

  10. 10. Charlie Bradbury, Supernatural

    A fantastically quirky (i.e. delightfully nerdy) lesbian in a fan-favourite comedy-thriller, Charlie is a master tech-wiz and remains adorkably shy throughout her appearances. Her witty one-liners are priceless, and her autonomous identity is something to idolise.

    Throughout the series, her past is slowly uncovered and viewers learn that she has a tortured past haunted by her family and her long list of false identities – the writers do a fantastic job of rounding her character into something complex and slowly unravelling.

  11. 11. (To Be Seen in 2021) Valkyrie, MCU

    Tessa Thompson first appeared as Marvel’s elite warrior, Valkyrie, in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), as the drunk bounty hunter haunted by her past. In Avengers: Endgame, after watching Thor descend into a shadow of her former self, Valkyrie is made King of New Asgard.

    After much teasing (*cough* queer baiting), Marvel Studios confirmed that Valkyrie would be openly bisexual in Thor: Love and Thunder, set to release in 2021, after her first appearance erased the heroine’s comic book backstory. This would mark the first openly LGBT+ Marvel superhero in film – hopefully the first of many.