A young child, assigned male at birth but whose “shadow is pink” and likes to wear dresses finds acceptance from his burly, masculine, blue-shadowed dad in a new picture book inspired by the author and his child’s real-life story.
Children’s book author Scott Stuart’s son has had a love for Elsa from Disney’s Frozen since he was three years old, Stuart wrote in a piece at The Father Hood. This soon included wanting to wear Elsa dresses. Stuart, who’d been his school’s rugby captain and grew up in “a highly traditional masculine way,” wasn’t comfortable with that at first. When his son came home from daycare after being bullied for having an Elsa doll, however, Stuart started writing and illustrating My Shadow Is Pink, a picture book about a gender creative child (presumably assigned male at birth (AMAB)) and his dad. The book came out in Australia and the U.K. last year, but has its U.S. publication this week.
The protagonist of My Shadow Is Pink is a White child who loves pink, princesses, and other things “not for boys”—especially “wearing dresses and dancing around.” In rhyming couplets, he tells us that he halts such activities, when his dad—also White, but large, hairy-chested, and mustached—walks in. His dad tells him that it’s “just a phase” and that he’ll soon have a blue shadow, too. The child wishes for this so he’ll be like his dad and brother, but quickly realizes “I cannot fit in when my shadow stands out.”
On the child’s first day of school, the teacher has asked each student to dress up with their shadow “in its favorite thing.” The child puts on a dress and looks at his dad, who is fearful but takes him to class anyway. Seeing the big dad wringing his hands anxiously about this adds another layer to readers’ thinking about what it means to be a strong man. Sometimes strength means protecting your child from harm; sometimes it means letting them forge their own path; sometimes physical strength can’t help.
In class, the child is clearly different from the boys, who all have blue shadows (as does one child who appears to be a girl). All the children look at him. He runs home and tears off his dress, vowing never to wear it again.
But wait … there’s a knock on his door, and in walks his dad, blue-shadowed but wearing a pink sparkly dress in solidarity. The dad says that he realizes the child’s pink shadow is “your innermost you.” He shows him pictures of a variety of people whose shadows (read: innermost selves) also like gender atypical things. One man loves fashion and art; one girl loves cheerleading, but also engines and cars; a male weightlifter loves dance; one girl’s shadow “likes girls.”
The dad encourages the child to put his dress back on, cautioning him that while some may not love him for this, the ones that do “will love you a lot”—and those that don’t are fools. Both father and child walk hand in hand, clad in dresses, back to school, where the other children ask the child to be their friend.
Stuart isn’t just making up stories here—he’s living the support he writes about. When his son wanted to wear an Elsa dress for the Sydney, Australia premiere of Disney’s Frozen 2, Stuart told him “There is no way you’re doing that … alone,” and donned an identical (but larger) dress alongside him. Stuart’s video about the event went viral on TikTok and has 4.8 million likes as of this writing.
There are a fair number of books now about gender-creative AMAB children encountering questions or harassment about their gender expression at school. Stuart’s take on the theme stands out for its focus on the relationship between the child and his dad and on societal ideas about masculinity. The over-exaggerated depiction of the dad as a hirsute lumberjack type who nevertheless loves and supports his son feels particularly heartwarming. If a dad like that can accept a gender creative son, anyone can (or so we can hope).
Some picture-book biographies of gay and lesbian people mention their queerness in passing (if at all) and move on. But a new picture-book biography of Megan Rapinoe shows the evolution of her realization that she is gay while she also rises to soccer superstardom.
Megan and her twin sister Rachael grew up playing sports with their brother Brian, we learn in Megan Rapinoe, by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara, part of the “Little People, Big Dreams” series from Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. When Megan started sixth grade, however, “everything changed” and her friends were “too busy having boyfriends and girlfriends! Megan wasn’t sure she was interested in boys,” we read. Given that the book doesn’t indicate which of her friends were interested in boyfriends versus girlfriends, it may be unclear to young readers how different this really made her—but on the next page, we also read that Megan “felt different from most of the other girls,” preferring short hair and sweatpants to skirts and ponytails. “But she knew there were lots of ways to be a girl. She just wanted to be herself,” we learn—a great message for all.
The book takes us on through her growth as a soccer player. A few points could have used more context or explanation for the target age group (4 to 7 years). What exactly is the Women’s Premier Soccer League that she and her sister played in? What does it mean that Megan “turned pro”? And will readers in the target age range (4 to 7 years) even know what the Olympics or World Cup are? A little adult guidance, however, may help young readers through these issues.
Some other places could also use a little polish. We learn that Megan and Rachael “both received … a college scholarship”—but since there were two of them, this should have been “…college scholarships” (or “both” should have been “each”). And one page says that Megan defended causes like equal pay and equal rights, and that she and Rachael ran a summer camp for kids; it’s unclear if these two activities are related.
By being truly herself on and off the field, little Megan became one of the most beloved soccer players in the world—and the best possible Megan she ever dreamt to be.
Rapinoe’s dedication to her sport comes through clearly, though. Combine that with the empowering treatment of her coming out, and the overall impact more than makes up for any minor stylistic flaws. We read that, “While Megan was at college, she realized she was attracted to women. Before she went to the London Olympics, she told the world that she was gay.” Adults may just want to clarify to young readers that being gay means being attracted to someone of the same sex, not just being attracted to women (otherwise straight men would be “gay”). Vegara deserves full credit, however, for showing Rapinoe’s coming out arc from childhood onward, and for emphasizing to young readers that “Being honest about who she was helped Megan to play her best.” The main premise of the book, that “by being truly herself on and off the field, little Megan became one of the most beloved soccer players in the world—and the best possible Megan she ever dreamt to be,” is a necessary message that resonates loud and clear.
The illustrations by Paulina Morgan are bright, cartoon-y, and cheery. Her round-faced depiction of Rapinoe might not look too much like the real Rapinoe’s angular visage, but the caricature has Rapinoe’s signature hair swoop (first blonde, then pink) and energy. At the end of the book are four photos of the real Rapinoe, along with further details about her life.
This is a positive addition to the small but growing collection of picture book biographies that show LGBTQ people as LGBTQ people. Pair it, perhaps, with Brad Meltzer’s similarly cartoon-y but also meaningful I am Billie Jean King, and inspire the young people in your life.
The American Library Association has just announced its 2021 Rainbow Book List—with a record-setting number of 129 librarian-approved LGBTQ-inclusive children’s and young adult books! There are so many, in fact, that for the first time, there are two Top 10 sub-lists of books with “exceptional merit,” one for younger children and one for older youth readers. Learn more and see some charts that illustrate just how the genre has grown.
Unlike the recently announced Stonewall Awards for children’s and young adult books, which recognize only a very few titles at the peak of excellence, the Rainbow Book List is a larger selection, intended to help young people find “quality books with significant and authentic GLBTQ content” and assist librarians in developing their collections and advising readers. Its value is not only in recommending quality titles, but also in offering the imprimatur of the oldest and largest library association in the world, which can help convince communities to keep these books on the shelves. It’s a great resource for parents and teachers, too.
This year, the Rainbow Book List Committee of the American Library Association’s (ALA’s) Rainbow Round Table nearly 600 books (a record number!) and selected 129 titles of fiction and non-fiction books for toddlers through young adults. The committee noted: “This year’s offerings give us everything from precious board books, touching picture books, astonishing true stories and biographies of remarkable people. We provide you with titles that incorporate the wide and varied lives of young people, non-fiction titles that challenge the status quo, and fiction that will break your heart and mend it together again.”
Also, “As a result of the sheer number of eligible titles and those ultimately chosen,” the committee also for the first time ever offered a whopping 20 picks “of exceptional merit,” 10 in each of two age categories. The Top 10 Titles for birth through middle grade are:
Burgess, Matthew and Josh Cochran (Illustrator). Drawing on Walls: A Story of Keith Haring.
Mercurio, Peter and Leo Espinosa (Illustrator). Our Subway Baby. 2020.
Neal, DeShanna, Trinity Neal, and Art Twink (Illustrator). My Rainbow.
Pitman, Gayle E. and Violet Tobacco (Illustrator). My Maddy.
Simon, Rachel E. and Noah Grigni (Illustrator). The Every Body Book: LGBTQ+ Inclusive Guide for Kids about Sex, Gender, Bodies, and Families.
Callender, Kacen. King and the Dragonflies.
Sass, A.J. Ana on the Edge.
Leyh, Kat. Snapdragon.
Nguyen, Trung Le. The Magic Fish.
Smith, Niki. The Deep & Dark Blue.
I hope you’ll go check out the Top 10 list for Young Adults and the full list of books for all ages. Many of the books are also ones in my own Mombian Database of LGBTQ Family Books, Media, and More (which can be filtered to show just the books from 2020 or any year), though my focus is on picture books and books for parents, with some select middle grade titles, since I’m only one person and can’t do everything. On the other hand, I’m probably a little more willing to include some titles simply to show the range of LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books today, even if they don’t all rise to quite the level of quality needed to make them library recommendations (though I do try to give an indication of quality in my reviews). With slightly different goals, we’ll end up with slightly different lists—but all with the aim of getting these books into readers’ hands. (Also, note that the Rainbow Book List includes books published in 2020 and between July 1 and December 31 of 2019, so it’s a little more than just one year—and may have omitted a few books published towards the end of 2020 that will be caught in next year’s list.)
I also want to share two charts to show visually just how much the number of LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books has accelerated in the past few years. The first chart shows the number of Rainbow Book List titles since the List’s founding in 2008. I’ve hand counted the number of titles from the Rainbow Book List website; all errors in tabulation and charting are my own. Even this doesn’t fully show the sweeping change in LGBTQ-inclusive titles, though; several of the committee’s picture book picks in the earlier years, for example, had rather vague or highly allegorical queer content. Today’s books, on the whole, are more likely to show clearly queer characters. You’ll see the big leap starting with 2019’s list, which covers books published between July 2017 and December 2018. (Notes on method: In 2021, the Rainbow List broke out “Juvenile Fiction” into its own category for the first time; I’ve kept it with Middle Grade for the purpose of this chart. I’ve also counted Board Books as Picture Books, since they haven’t always been broken out. Graphic/Manga includes both middle grade and YA titles; since the Rainbow List has never broken them out, though, neither did I.)
The second chart shows the number of books the Committee evaluated each year before coming up with their final selections. This chart starts in 2013, when the Committee began regularly reporting this data. Again, the past few years have seen a significant jump. As I said last year as well, the fact that the committee evaluated so many titles and selected a much smaller percentage (roughly 17 to 32 percent) speaks both to the growing number of LGBTQ-inclusive books that are being published and the fact that many of them still have a ways to go in terms of quality and “significant and authentic” LGBTQ content. Let’s hope that budding authors find ways of improving their skills and getting feedback on their drafts. I’ll also suggest that prospective authors read widely among existing LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books and other diverse, top-rated children’s titles before embarking on efforts of their own.
For a bit of history, here’s my interview with Nel Ward, chair of the Rainbow Book List Committee when the list first launched in 2008. It’s been a pleasure watching the number of titles grow and diversify over the years.
As always, many thanks to the librarians who put together the Rainbow Book List and to all of the librarians everywhere whose recommendations and support continue to positively impact the lives of so many young people and families.
GLAAD yesterday released its latest annual “Where We Are on TV” report, which looks at the number of LGBTQ regular and recurring scripted characters on network television, cable, and streaming services. Let’s look at what they discovered about LGBTQ inclusion in children’s shows—while I wildly speculate about some LGBTQ-inclusive kids’ books that I’d love to see made into shows.
The good news that there’s been “significant growth” in programming for children and families in recent years, “and the space continues to grow rapidly with new LGBTQ stories premiering on all platforms.” GLAAD therefore this year announced a second GLAAD Media Awards category to honor outstanding LGBTQ programming for young audiences—an Outstanding Children’s Programming category in addition to the existing Outstanding Kids & Family Programming category. Stay tuned to hear the results at the 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards later this year.
Let’s focus here on shows for the younger age group. GLAAD informs us that in 2020, Cartoon Network aired the final episodes of Steven Universe Future, a limited-series epilogue to Steven Universe. They don’t tell us what the LGBTQ representation was in the miniseries, however, perhaps assuming that we’ll know the main series (which ended in 2019) was one of the queerest kids’ shows ever. This queerness carried over into the epilogue, with an episode in which one female character has a crush on another, and an episode with a character who uses they/them pronouns and is dating a female character. A show storyboarder has also tweeted that another character is asexual and aromantic.
Other inclusive shows listed by GLAAD include:
Nickelodeon’s The Loud House, with bisexual character Luna Loud and her girlfriend Sammy, as well as the two dads of protagonist Lincoln Loud’s best friend Clyde.
Nickelodeon’s Danger Force!, which had one episode that included two gay dads who recently adopted a son.
Disney XD’s DuckTales, which introduced a two-dad couple, the parents of Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s friend Violet. I’ll add that co-executive Producer Frank Angones has said that while they “do not play a huge role in the story thus far,” he’s “well aware that the ‘queer representation through parents and background characters’ trope is an issue, and “We do have some themes and ideas coming up that address relevant LGBTQ+ narratives.” Other episodes, GLAAD tells us, focused on a new character named Penumbra “who was confirmed to be a lesbian by the episode’s writer and director on Twitter. The character is not expected to return.” Half credit if the queerness has to be confirmed separately and the character is only temporary?
The Disney Channel animated series The Owl House, which developed a romantic storyline for bisexual protagonist Luz and a female classmate.
The finale of Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, which confirmed that the two female lead characters were in love. While that might seem like yet another example of queer inclusion being revealed only when the show was on its way out, the show in fact has had many queer secondary characters, some in same-sex relationships, one nonbinary, and others who are gender creative. In this case, keeping the main characters’ love for each other as a reveal at the end was about building romantic tension (which was pretty obvious in earlier episodes).
Netflix’s animated Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, which included central character Benson, in love with another male character, Troy. The series has ended, however.
Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club, a reboot of the 1990s show, which had one episode where one of the main characters is asked to sit for a young transgender girl, played by 9-year-old transgender actor Kai Shappley.
And one possible future show, the animated series Little Ellen on HBO Max, which follows the 7-year-old Ellen DeGeneres on various adventures. I have been unable to find a premiere date for it; given accusations of a toxic workplace environment on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I have to wonder (though I have no evidence one way or another) if the kids’ show is in jeopardy.
Other queer-inclusive “family” shows on streaming services seem aimed at teens and up, so I won’t recap them here, but I encourage you to go read the full GLAAD report if you’re interested in shows for that age group.
Amazon has quietly shown characters with same-sex parents on its ongoing animated shows for young children, Pete the Cat and Bug Diaries, but GLAAD has not included them in its report, so I assume those characters did not appear in 2020 episodes. And the only kids’ show on a mainstream network to center on a child with LGBTQ parents, Hulu’s The Bravest Knight (about which more here), dropped its first season in 2019 but has not yet announced a second.
So: Progress? Yes. Where we need to be? Hardly. We need both LGBTQ characters who populate the world as secondary characters and LGBTQ characters and those with LGBTQ parents who are the stars of the show (without necessarily focusing the show on their LGBTQ identities).
Original television programming is one way to achieve the latter. Another is to use the accelerating number of LGBTQ-inclusive children’s books as starting points. Here are just a few of many possible ideas, which I offer with absolutely no inside information on whether any such things are in the works or if the authors would even be interested:
I’ve said before that Kyle Lukoff’s Max and Friends series, about a young transgender boy and his classmates, would make a terrific foundation for an animated series. And while there are happily many young trans actors who could voice the main role, my dream casting (not only because of his acting skills, but because of the attention it would bring to the show) would be Elliot Page.
Daniel Haack’s Prince & Knight, which is getting a sequel this year, feels like a natural fit. In my 2018 review, I even said the images have a “Disney-like” quality. Since Hulu’s The Bravest Knight focuses on a girl with two dads, and Prince & Knight focuses on the same-sex couple themselves, they seem sufficiently different.
Lesléa Newman’s classic Heather Has Two Mommies has the name recognition to be a hit. Expand it into “Heather and Friends” or “Heather and Her World” and it could work as a series about the adventures of a young girl.
The four-book Magic Misfits series by actor Neil Patrick Harris, about six friends and aspiring magicians (one of whom has two dads), seems ready-made for an ensemble-cast show, either animated or live action.
Emma Donoghue’s two books about the Lotterys, the multiracial, multiethnic, neurodiverse family of two same-sex couples co-parenting seven children, has the kind of controlled chaos that could make it a fun television romp (or even a feature film).
Dana Allison Levy’s four books set in the universe of her Family Fletcher, which include a family with two dads and one with two moms, feel like they could translate into a live-action show for older kids and tweens.
I’d also love a show in which a two-mom family (preferably a family of color) and their kids fly around the galaxy in a spaceship meeting diverse people and aliens and learning STEM lessons each episode. Clearly there is no end of ideas; we just need the networks and streaming services to commit to increasing further the LGBTQ representation in children’s programming. Are they tuning in?
Black LGBT+ lives land in the intersection of racism and homophobia. (Getty/Hollie Adams)
The COVID-19 pandemic is placing huge strain on Black queer households as decades of discrimination compound economic insecurity, a worrying new study has found.
The report released by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP) identifies American communities that are bearing the brunt of COVID-19, noting that LGBT+ households were disproportionately challenged in work, school, childrearing, healthcare, financial insecurity and social isolation.
In particular Black and Latinx LGBT+ people are facing significantly higher levels of financial insecurity, with a shocking 95 per cent of queer Black households and 70 per cent of queer Latinx households experiencing at least one serious financial problem since the pandemic began.
And more than half of Black LGBT+ households have been unable to get medical care or had delayed medical services because of the economic strain of the pandemic.
“The pandemic has disrupted life for all of us. Yet, some communities have borne the brunt: Black and Latinx people, low-income people, and, as this new data shows, LGBT+ people,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director at MAP.
“Decades of discrimination on the job, in healthcare and beyond, combined with uneven legal protections around the country make LGBT+ people more vulnerable to pandemic-related instability and insecurity, with an even more devastating impact on LGBT+ people of colour.”
The long history of racial discrimination in the US is contributing to many problems, but the disparity is also seen in the wider LGBT+ community, with queer people of all backgrounds experiencing increased challenges compared to the straight population.
For example, LGBT+ households are twice as likely to be unable to get necessary medical care and four times more likely to go hungry.
Nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of LGBT+ people and their families experienced a job loss or disruption, compared to just under half (45 per cent) of non-LGBT+ households.
29 per cent had serious problems with internet connection for work or schoolwork at home, compared with 17 per cent of non-LGBT+ families. And a quarter were unable to access prescription drugs or experienced a delay, compared to just eight per cent of straight people.
“It’s clear that the COVID-19 has amplified and exacerbated disparities that existed before the pandemic,” concluded Logan Casey, policy researcher at MAP.
“LGBT+ people were more likely to struggle with economic stability and have challenges with access to health care prior to COVID, and that’s even more true now.
“The existing patchwork of legal protections is insufficient, which is why we need a nationwide law like the Equality Act so that LGBTQ people in every community are protected from discrimination.”
Her show has only been back a few weeks, and already Ellen DeGeneres is involved in yet more backlash after grilling Justin Bieber on when he and wife Hailey will have children.
Having battled controversy after controversy this year, DeGeneres has stirred up more drama over her treatment of Bieber in an episode of The Ellen Degeneres Show‘s 18th season.
Her line of questioning began when she asked Bieber: “How many kids are you going to have and when?”
The singer responded: “I’m going to have as many as Hailey is wishing to push out. I’d love to have myself a little tribe. But, yeah, it’s her body and whatever she wants to do.”
He said that the couple want a “few” children, but DeGeneres kept pushing, asking: “What are you all waiting for? You know you love kids. You’re so good with kids. What’s the holdup?”
Appearing uncomfortable, Bieber, 26, said of his wife who is 24 years old: “I think the issue – there’s not really an issue, but I think Hailey still has some things she wants to accomplish as a woman.
“And I think she just wants to – yeah, I think she just is not ready yet, and I think that’s okay.”
Viewers took to social media to criticise the interview, pointing out that for many, children and fertility can be a very sensitive topic.
One wrote: “Okay so I don’t follow their drama or whatever but Ellen was grilling Justin Bieber about when he and Hailey are gonna have kids and like…COULD ELLEN NOT?!?!?!”
Okay so I don’t follow their drama or whatever but Ellen was grilling Justin Bieber about when he and Hailey are gonna have kids and like…COULD ELLEN NOT?!?!?!
“STOP DOING THIS,” said another. “Seriously, it’s uncomfortable, especially if someone WANTS one but can’t or has had a miscarriage, etc. There’s more to being married or in a long term relationship than having babies. Stop asking.”
STOP DOING THIS. seriously, its uncomfortable, especially if someone WANTS one but can’t or has had a miscarriage, etc. There’s more to being married or in a long term relationship than having babies. Stop 👏 asking 👏#EllenDeGeneres#Bieberhttps://t.co/53Mby0ocH3
Wow. Even if you think it’s funny, it’s not. What if they had been trying and didn’t want to talk about it? Can we stop asking families when they’re going to have kids? @TheEllenShowhttps://t.co/qqPdWezf7X
Others recalled a 2008 interview with Mariah Carey on DeGeneres’s show, in which the host pushed the pop queen into revealing a pregnancy she later miscarried, pressuring her to sip champagne to “toast not being pregnant”.
One person wrote: “I thought Ellen had learned her lesson… By the awkwardness seen in Justin Bieber’s face, you crossed the line again, like with Mariah Carey.”
Halloween – like everything else about 2020 – is likely to be very different this year. That said, it provides the perfect excuse to get creative with a facemask!
As bars and clubs remain closed across much of the U.S., and house parties are not advised, those wishing to mark Halloween may be interested in a spooky-themed drive-in drag show set to tour the U.S next month.
Voss Events organize events featuring many of the former RuPaul Drag Race queens. It’s already organized drive-in drag shows featuring Canada Drag Race queens in Canada.
For October, it’s running a U.S. Drive ‘N Drag: Halloween show featuring: Asia O’Hara; Aquaria, Yvie Oddly; Kameron Michaels; Kim Chi; Violet Chachki and Vanessa Vanjie.
It costs $69 per car per two people (with $25 for additional passengers). VIP tickets cost $139, and get your vehicle closest to the stage (which going by comments on online forums, is worth the extra expense). Tour dates are as follows:
The queens will be appearing live on stage, with the action relayed on big Jumbotron screens. Each queen will be playing the part of a trapped soul, recounting how they came to die “from obscure causes … Each soul will share her chilling tale of death in an immersive stage performance that is sure to fright and delight.”
Food will be available from food trucks and there will even be Drag Brunch options for performances earlier in the day.
Producer Brandon Voss said in a statement, “Our wildly popular drive-in productions are proving the drag show must go on even through a pandemic! The show has been adapted to be even more interactive than the original arena production, bringing performances and haunts into the parking lot for an immersive experience we are dubbing a Haunted Parking Lot for a good scare.”
This post was originally written in March 2020 and most recently updated in July 2020.
What TV shows could you watch on Hulu if you want to see some woman-on-woman action? Hulu’s original content keeps getting queerer and queerer and they’re becoming exclusive hosts of The L Word now that the legendary program is leaving Netflix. What’s streaming on Hulu with lesbian, bisexual, queer and gay characters? What streaming TV shows on Hulu have LGBT content? These are questions you may have asked a search engine that brought you RIGHT HERE, where we will answer them.
Everyone is Gay TV Shows on Hulu
The L Word (Showtime) (2004 – 2009): 6 Seasons, 70 Episodes
If you’ve not already seen The L Word then I imagine you have your reasons, like that most of it wasn’t very good, or that you have no interest in the lives of a bunch of glamorous lesbians in Los Angeles living, laughing, loving, and going gay for Shane. But being snowed in might be your big chance to get to know our girls! We’ve even provided you with an L Word Watcher’s Guide.
The Bisexual (Hulu Original) (2019): One Season, 6 Episodes
The Bisexual sets itself apart by featuring a diverse group of lesbian friends in addition to focusing on the queer protagonist’s narrative and feels entirely authentic. “Akhavan has done something truly brilliant here,” wrote Heather Hogan in her review. “She’s created a show for an audience that understands the joke “Bette is a Shane trying to be a Dana” and then centers it on a character who’s meant to make everyone who gets that joke a little uncomfortable.”
The closest thing we ever got to The L Word was Lip Service, a Glasgow-set drama following a group of lesbian friends: neurotic architect Cat; her best friend Frankie, a brooding Shane-esque photographer; frazzled struggling actress Tess; hot cop Sam (this is how we all discovered Heather Peace!) and notorious bad girl Sadie. Season Two introduced Sexy Lexy Price, a doctor who moved in with Tess, Frankie and Sadie. It was fun and hot and compelling, but the show never really set up the sense of a larger queer social web or the city’s scene in the same way The L Word did, mainstream critics hated it and the community’s reaction was, according to Heather Davidson, “mixed.”
Shows on Hulu with Queer Female Leads Who Are Gay The Whole Time
Killing Eve (BBC) (2018-) : 2 Seasons on Hulu So Far, 16 Episodes
Jodie Comer as Villanelle, Sandra Oh as Eve Polastri – Killing Eve _ Season 2, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Gareth Gatrell/BBCAmerica
Killing Eve‘s first season was the Fleabag of 2018: a smart, female-focused Phoebe Waller-Bridge project that intrigued and delighted us all. The complicated and decidedly sexual obsession of these two women with each other is the stuff lesbian dreams (and memes) are made of, and fittingly will be their respective undoings.
Anyone But Me (2008 – 2012): 3 Seasons, 31 Episodes
photographed by Michael Seto for Anyone But Me
This cute little webseries is about a teenage lesbian who moves away from her girlfriend Aster (Nicole Pacent’s breakout role) while adjusting to a very different social environment in Westchester.
The Bold Type (Freeform) (2017-): 4 Seasons So Far, 46 Episodes
Season One of The Bold Type captured our entire summer with its smarts and relevance and humor and beauty. The first season grounds its romantic emotion in a storyline between two queer women of color, one of whom is a Muslim immigrant. It’s one thing to write cheeky political dialogue into your show. It is entirely another to build a season-long narrative that defies the stereotypes that build the propaganda that’s used to persecute and oppress the minorities being targeted by a political party. Seasons Two and Three have been a bit hit or miss, but Season Four really managed to exceed our expectations of how terrible it could get!
Broad City, which ended its run last year, reflected an emerging queer zeitgeist but also helped construct it, delivering a breathlessly fresh take on sexual fluidity. In addition to concluding with two out queer Jewish leads, it advanced the conversation around female sexual desire and exploration. This included both its acknowledgment of bisexuality as an identity that transcends romantic relationships and its centering of a goofy, self-indulgent, transformational, hilarious and undeniably epic romantic friendship unlike anything we’ve seen on television before.
High Fidelity (Hulu Original) (2020): 1 Season So Far, 10 Episodes
Although Rob’s relationships with women aren’t central to the plot, Zoe Kravtiz’s character is a smart, wry, endearing hot bisexual mess on this truly delightful re-imagination of the original film (starring John Cusack as Rob), which was based on a Nick Hornsby book. Updated for the current era with a diverse cast of clever, passionate and musically-obsessed hipsetrs.
Queen Sugar (OWN) (2016-): 4 Seasons So Far, 55 Episodes
Queen Sugar is a beautifully shot family drama about how three adult siblings come back together in the wake of a family tragedy and struggle to take over their family business. It’s poignant, loving, politically aware and certainly one of the most moving portrayals of a black family over the last five years. Rutina Wesley (True Blood) stars as Nova Bordelon, the middle sibling, and a pansexual journalist/activist/spiritual healer/medical marijuana grower. Nova’s a major character throughout, but unfortunately her queerness is handled unevenly. So if that’s your main interest, pay closest attention to Season One and Season Four.
Motherland: Fort Salem (Freeform) (2020 – ): One Season so far, 10 Episodes
Three young witches with basic training in combat magic are being trained to defend their matriarchal country against “looming terrorist threats” with supernatural tactics and weapons. This re-imagining of a world where the witches escaped the Salem Witch Trials by striking a deal with the government to serve in the military has a queer protagonist and a queer antagonist!
Little Fires Everywhere (2020-): 1 Season, Airing Currently
This adaptation of the bestselling book adds some queer elements that weren’t explicitly present on the page for the characters of Izzy and Mia Warren (played by Kerry Washington, who produced the series with co-star Reese Witherspoon). Set in an affluent Ohio suburb in the ’90s, Little Fires Everywhere is a searing investigation of class, race and the idea of “good white people.”
This unfortunately wrapped-up but undeniably excellent comic book adaptation follows a group of fierce, supernaturally talented teenagers challenging the abhorrent compromises their parents made, supposedly in their best interest, for a “better world,” at the expense of, you know — human lives, wealth inequality, and our planet. Virginia Gardner literally shines as Karolina Dean, a human-alien hybrid initially hiding her superpowers and her lesbianism ’til coming out near the end of Season One and starting a relationship with her crush, cynical goth Nico Minoru. At times it fumbles, having bit off more than it can chew thematically and w/r/t sheer population, but it still manages to combine the easy joy of a teen drama with the satisfying anxiety of suspenseful sci-fi.
Shows on Hulu With Gay Female Leads Who Come Out a Little Later in The Show
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (The WB) (1997-2003): 7 Seasons, 144 Episodes
You know the deal: in every generation, a slayer is born? And eventually her witchy best friend Willow realizes that she’s gay?
The O.C. (Fox) (2003 – 2007): 4 Seasons, 92 Episodes
Marissa and Alex’s sweeps-week romance left an imprint on an entire generation of bisexual girls delighted by this unexpected gift given to us in one of the year’s buzziest and most popular teen dramas. It remains a delicious, dated and soapy watch.
Harlots (Hulu Original) (2017-): 3 Seasons So Far, 24 Episodes
I declared Harlots the most accurate portrayal of indoor-market sex work ever represented onscreen in Season One — surprisingly more resonant to me as a former sex worker than any contemporary portrayals — and its extra queering in Season Two made it moreso and then some. If Season One was about sex work, Season Two is about the reality that what’s done to sex workers is inextricable from what’s done to all women — the lessons about power, violence, solidarity and struggle in stories about sex work are ones that the larger conversation about gender ignores at its peril.Season Three I would prefer not to discuss, thank you.
Brooklyn 99 (Fox) (2013-): 7 Seasons So Far, 136 Episodes
In 2018, Stephanie Beatriz and her character Rosa Diaz both came out as bisexual — like, actually said the word! — on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which still regularly serves up new, emotional character arcs that peel back the layers to this lovable squad. Above all else, the show celebrates earnestness and friendship in a really lovely way that proves you don’t have to be mean or cynical to be really fucking funny.
Adventure Time (Cartoon Network) (2010-2018): 10 Seasons, 283 Episodes
Adventure Time is easily the most influential show in Cartoon Network’s history; echoes of its style and themes reverberate far beyond kids TV. And really Adventure Time never was kids TV. Yeah, it was animated and as silly as bing bong ping pong. But as it evolved, it became as philosophical weighty and psychologically curious as Battlestar Galactica. Fans of Princess Bubblegum and Marceline enjoyed growing canonical support of their favorite couple over the seasons, both on-screen and in spin-off comic books — but they’d never actually confirmed their relationship physically until the series finale when Bonnie got womped in the dome piece and almost croaked and Marceline rushed to her and caressed her and professed her love and they smooched right on the mouths.
TV Shows Streaming On Hulu With Central Queer Female Characters
It’s hundreds of years in the future and New Babyl, the last living colony on earth, has divided into different sectors for specific industries, from which 24 candidates are chosen to compete in The Examplar performance competition. Six of these candidates are followed by the show’s narrative, including sexually fluid Brooklyn and dancer Sage.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu Original) (2017-): 3 Seasons So Far, 36 Episodes
This brutal show is dripping with artistry and performed by a magnificent cast, capable of communicating entire worlds without a single spoken line. Lesbian characters Moira (Samira Wiley) and Emily (Alexis Bledel) get bigger stories as the series progresses into a dystopian nightmare gradually unraveling at its fundamentalist seams. It’s not a pleasant world to witness, yet it remains a seductive watch. Every moment of dark humor is hard-won, like freedom itself.
Shrill (Hulu Original) (2019-): 2 Seasons So Far, 14 Episodes
Aidy Bryant stars in this adaptation of writer Lindy West’s memoir, in which she navigates the world as a young journalist in a fatphobic world. Her best friend, Fran, is a black British lesbian with all the self-confidence Annie herself lacks.
A classic procedural in a lot of ways, Rosewood was about a kind and charming forensic pathologist who solved crimes with his scientist sister week after week. His sister, Pippy, also happened to be a lesbian, in a realtionship with a woman who goes by TMI that was established before the show begins. It’s not often we see a pre-existing queer relationship in a main character, and Pippy and TMI quickly laugh and nerd their way into your heart. Also, Pippi’s relationship with her mother about their journey and their relationship through Pippy’s coming out is very powerful and well-written, and Pippy and TMI’s relationship is complicated and goes through many phases throughout the too-short run of the show.
Younger, about a woman in her 40s who is forced to pass as a woman in her 20s in order to land a job, is a delightful brain break that will pass time without asking much of you. It’s unexpectedly funny and a genuinely great depiction of friendship between women. It gets better as the years go on (so be prepared the first season is not a reflection of its best work). Be on the lookout out for Debi Mazar as lesbian Maggie and Molly Bernard as pansexual Lauren, both are the respective best friends of the two protagonists.
The Good Wife (CBS) (2009 – 2016): 7 Seasons, 156 Episodes
The Good Wife ran for seven seasons on CBS, quickly cementing itself as a standout legal procedural and ensemble drama. It follows attorney Alicia Florrick in the aftermath of her politician husband’s very public, scandalous affair. In season one, she seeks comfort in a new friend, the firm’s private investigator and instant queer icon Kalinda Sharma. All seven seasons pack a lot of red wine, emotional turbulence, and courtroom thrills.
East Los High (2013-2017) (Hulu Original): 4 Seasons, 61 Episodes
Ser Anzoategui (Vida) made their small-screen debut playing Daysi in this show about a group of interconnected friends at a high school in East LA. The first season has a coming out arc that ends pretty brutally, but it’s a show that tackles a lot of social issues and was Hulu’s first with an all Latino cast and crew, filmed in Los Angeles.
Good Trouble (Freeform) (2019 -): 2 Seasons So Far, 31 Episodes
Good Trouble picks up where The Fosters left off: with Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) and Callie (Maia Mitchell) headed north, from their sleepy San Diego suburb to the bright lights of Los Angeles, to start their new jobs. But sooner than you think, you’ll find yourself falling for all the residents of the communal space where Callie and Mariana live. Among them? Alice Kwan, the soft-butch lesbian who’s trying to get over her ex-girlfriend and get her comedy career started.
Steven Universe continues to explore more adult themes more fully than nearly every non-animated show on TV: family, grief, depression, commitment, betrayal, duplicitousness, forgiveness, puberty, gender, gender presentation, sexuality — and it does so in a way that’s warm and engaging and funny and, most of all, hopeful.
Light as a Feather (Hulu Original) (2019-): 2 Seasons So Far, 26 Episodes
Light as a Feather started out as a fun campy horror/teen drama that happened to have a gay character in its main ensemble, and it was all fun in games through season one and most of season two. It had the Final Destination “cheating death” kind of spook factor, mixed in with some supernatural twin stuff and secrets upon secrets upon lies. Season two gave the queer lead, named Alex of course, a girlfriend, but the end of season two took a bit of a turn re: its queer characters…
Party of Five (Freeform) (2020 -): 1 Season So Far, 10 Episodes
Like the original series, the 2020 reboot of Party of Five is about five children — Emilio, Beto, Lucia, Valentina and Baby Rafa — left to fend for themselves after the loss of their parents. But unlike the original, the parents aren’t lost in a car accident, they’re lost to an inhumane immigration policy. And while that story alone would make Party of Five worth watching, the slow reveal of Lucia’s sexuality over the course of its first season makes the show truly compelling. It’s the kind of intersectional storytelling we’ve been longing for.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay (Freeform) (2019 -): 1 Season So Far, 10 Episodes
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay centers around Nicholas, a 25 year old Australian expat, forced to become the guardian to his two younger half-sisters after their father dies. When you tune into for the first time, you’re going to wonder why we recommended it…I mean, it’s very gay — oh, so very gay — from the outset but not exactly our brand of gay, you know? But still, you should stick around for two reasons: first, EGBO is the rare show featuring characters on the autism spectrum played by actors on the autism spectrum, and second, it does eventually become our brand of gay.
Star (Fox) (2016 – 2019): 3 Seasons, 48 Episodes
Star is a musical spin-off of TV juggernaut Empire that is in many ways sharper and smarter (no less overly-dramatic or seemingly illogical) than its predecessor. If you’d love discovering an often overlooked series about three working-class teenage girls doing everything in their power to go after their music superstar dreams, you’ll find something to love here. Simone, Star’s younger sister and 1/2 of the core musical trio, comes out as bisexual in the second season. She has multiple girlfriends on-and-off over the last two years, along with a long-term relationship with a man. Star also stars Amiyah Scott as Cotton Brown, in the first series regular role for a trans woman actor in TV history, and Queen Latifah as the girl’s mentor/mother-figure.
Please Like Me (Pivot/ABC2 Australia) (2013 – 2018): 4 Seasons, 32 Episodes
Emily Nussbaum writes that this “gorgeously made, psychological observant comedy” “lets vulnerable people own their jokes.” Centered on a twenty-something named Josh, a queer and “persnickety, self-abnegating student living in Melbourne.” Hannah Gadsby plays lesbian character Hannah starting in Season Two.
SIREN – Freeform’s “Siren” stars Eline Powell as Ryn, Alex Roe as Ben Pownall, and Fola Evans-Akingbola as Maddie Bishop. (Freeform/Ed Herrera)
A mysterious mermaid arrives in a small fishing town to look for her captured older sister, who was abducted by the military, which obviously eads to her getting into a throuple with Marine Biologists Ben and Maddie.
Black Sails (Starz) (2014 – 2017): 4 Seasons, 38 Episodes
Eleanor Guthrie will win you over within approximately 30 seconds of her being on your TV screen, I guarantee it. A bisexual businesswoman on the pirate island of Nassau, she has to fight to keep her power at every turn, but fight she does. Her tenuous and angsty relationship with her favorite sex worker Max is one for the ages, and they aren’t the only two queer women we meet over the course of the series. (Buckle your boots for the pirate Anne Bonny.) Just…maybe stop watching before episode 406.
9-1-1 (Fox) (2018 – ): Seasons 1 and 3 Available on Hulu, 28 Episodes
This departure from typical fare for the Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk follows the fast-paced lives of First Responders — cops, paramedics, 9-1-1 dispatchers and firefighters — as they tackle all manner of bizarre disaster. Aisha Hinds plays Hen Wilson, a Black lesbian member of the squad. The show is into its fourth season, it’s unclear why only specific episodes are on Hulu!
Claws (TNT) (2017): 3 Seasons, 30 Episodes
Five manicurists in a Florida salon enter the wonderful world of organized crime. Judy Reyes plays Annalise “Quiet Ann” Zayas, the salon’s butch bisexual lookout, doorman and enforcer.
The Purge (USA) (2018): One Season, 10 Episodes
It’s difficult to recommend this program after seeing how the story played out, but the fact remains that there is an intense love triangle and woman-on-woman relationship central to the narrative of this adaptation of a movie about the 12 hours every year when all crime, including murder, is legal in America.
The First (Hulu Original) (2018): 1 Season, 8 Episodes
Lisa Gay Hamilton plays Kayla Price, a former mission commander and a lesbian in this show about the first human mission to Mars. Her wife is played by Tracie Thoms, of course. Kayla is part of the main ensemble but her sexuality doesn’t come up very often.
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists (Freeform) 2019: One Season, 10 Episodes
This follow up to Pretty Little Liars is bad, but also Allison, who is central to this show taking place in the perfect college town of Beacon Heights, is still queer and has some updates re: her marriage to Emily. Also it’s bad.
Grown-ish (Freeform) (2018-): 3 Seasons So Far, 42 Episodes
This delightful, funny and smart Black-ish spin-off brings daughter Zoey to college, where her tight-knit group of besties includes Nomi Segal (Emily Arlook), a Jewish bisexual whose story takes a few unfortunate turns, including a close relationship with her professor played by the one and only Kate Moennig.
Shows Streaming on Hulu With Minor or Temporary Queer Characters/Storylines:
Mrs. America (Hulu) (2020): Limited Series, 9 Episodes
Cate Blanchett, Tracy Ullman, Rose Byrne, Uzo Abuba and Melanie Lynskey are just some of the wildly talented women at the forefront of this history of the feminist movement in the 1970s and its fight against conservative activist Phyllis Shalafley (Care Blanchett) specifically. Bria Henderson plays Black lesbian early Ms. magazine editor Margaret Sloan-Hunter. In episode five, Ari Graynor shows up as Brenda Feigen, a feminist activist and attorney who falls for Jules, a lesbian photographer portrayed by the one and only Roberta Colindrez. In Episode 7, we briefly glimpse Midge Costanza and Jean O’Leary, a lesbian couple who pushed for inclusion in the feminist agenda and within the Carter administration.
The Librarians (TNT) (2014 – 2018): 4 Seasons, 42 Episodes
The magical library beneath the Manhattan Public Library houses all the mystical artifacts that are too dangerous for the world-at-large. Cassandra, who links auditory/sensory hallucinations to memory is bisexual. She’s very happy and also is Prince Charming.
Charlie Haverford is a failed musician and scam artist who works as a psychic for a big psychic empire. Gina is a hypnotist introduced as someone Charlie’s wife Linda wanted to hire. After some low-key torture, Gina strikes up a relationship with Linda. It does not end well.
Like a few other notable Ilene Chaiken projects, Empire eventually killed too many lesbians and also went entirely off the rails, but the first season is incredible television and the second is fine. Bre-Z, Marissa Tomei and Naomi Campbell are the women who play gay.
The Last Man On Earth (Fox) (2015-2018): 4 Seasons, 67 Episodes)
It’s 2022 and a cataclysm has wiped out the entire population of earth except for one man: Phil Miller. Eventually he locates additional stragglers, including Australian political nerd Erica Dundee and the woman she eventually falls in love with, Gail Klosterman, a chef and former restaurant owner. Their romance blooms!
American Horror Story (Fx) (2011 – ): 9 Seasons So Far, 103 Episodes
The American Horror Story franchise is erratically queer, depending on the season, but like all Ryan Murphy projects, somebody’s always gay and most seasons have multiple queer women characters (although not, somehow, COVEN). Season Two, Asylum, has a really original and complicated lesbian character, Lana Winters (Sarah Paulson) who is institutionalized for her sexual orientation and loses her wife (Clea Duvall). Season Seven, Cult, is pretty bad, but it too gives Sarah Paulson a starring role — this time, she’s a Midwestern lesbian very upset about Trump. There were peripheral queer characters (or central queer characters whose queerness was not really centered) in other seasons, such as Freak Show, Murder House and Hotel.
This Canadian medial drama featured Dr. Sydney Katz, a “take-no-prisoners medical prodigy and Orthodox Jewish Doogie Howser” who’s struggled all her life with her feelings for women. In Season Three, she had a relationship with OB/GYN Maggie Lin.
The Last Ship (TNT) (2014-2018): 5 Seasons, 56 Episodes
This action-drama television series takes place after a pandemic wipes out over 80% of the world’s population, leaving the 218 people on a U.S. Navy missile destroyer to find a cure, stop the virus, and save humanity! Lieutenant Commander Alisha Granderson, Officer of the Deck, is a lesbian. It … does not end well for everybody.
Power (Starz) (2014-2020): 6 Seasons, 63 Episodes
Real life Disney princess Anika Noni Rose (that’s Princess Tiana to you) turned heads when she took off her crown to play dirty cop LaVerne “Jukebox” Ganner in Season Three and Season Four of Power, an adult drama about the high stakes of the drug business in New York. Jukebox is the cousin of central villain Kanan (50 Cent), but between kidnapping actual children and quite a few murders, she’s definitely no shrinking violet of her own.
What We Do In the Shadows (FX) (2019 – ): 2 Seasons So Far, 20 Episodes
The daily life of three vampires who’ve lived together on Staten Island for over 100 years, inspired by the feature film by the same name. Nadja is a Romani vampire who has had many lovers, many of whom are reincarnations of Gregor, who appears in forms including a washerwoman. The Advocate called it “Cable’s queerest comedy” because everyone is pansexual.
Salem (WGN) (2014 – 2017): 3 Seasons, 30 Episodes
This mediocre supernatural horror series, inspired by the 17th century Salem witch trials, follows Mary Sibley, a powerful witch who controls the trials and maddens the Puritans to serve the devil, and her (gay) mistress Tituba in a show where “sexuality is fluid.” Also it’s kinda bad.
Doctor Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes) was one of the first major lesbian characters on television, but her treatment is consistent with the times, which were not great times for our people. Kerry joins the show in a recurring capacity in Season Two but her lesbian storyline doesn’t begin until Season Seven, when she falls in love with staff psychiatrist Kim Legaspi (Elizabeth Mitchell).
Shows Streaming on Hulu With VERY Minor or Temporary Queer Characters/Storylines:
UnREAL (Lifetime/ Hulu Original) (2015-2018): 4 Seasons, 38 Episodes
Behind the scenes of Bachelor-esque reality TV show Everlasting, nobody has ethics and everybody’s ready to sell their soul for good ratings. Season One features a charming contestant from the Bible Belt who realizes she’s a lesbian, and later seasons include a few appearances by a studio executive played by perpetual gay-for-pay Tracie Thoms.
American Housewife (ABC) (2016 -): 4 Seasons So Far, 90 Episodes
A confident and unapologetic mother and wife of three is raising her family in wealthy Westport, Connecticut. Her next door neighbor and close friend is a lesbian.
The Killing (AMC) (2011-2014): 4 Seasons, 44 Episodes
This American remake of a Danish TV series follows two detectives as they solve murders in a very rainy Seattle. One of Bex Taylor-Klaus’ earliest roles is street kid “Bullet” in Season Three.
Better Things (FX) (2016-): 4 Seasons So Far, 40 Episodes
CR: Suzanne Tenner/FX
You can watch past seasons and the present season of this critically acclaimed irreverent comedy as it unfolds as part of FX on Hulu. Pamela Adlon plays Sam Fox, an actress with three kids (one of whom might be trans? this is unclear and honestly frustrating) she’s raising in Los Angeles. There’s some minor queer female characters here and there, including Sam’s agent, Tressa as well as some interesting sexuality and gender stuff happening with Sam’s daughter Frankie. It was the first female-led show on FX .
This short-lived but pretty fun light horror Ryan Murphy project involved a short-lived lesbian named, of course, Sam, who did awaken some sexual feelings from Chanel #3 (Billie Lourd) in Kappa Tau, who are experiencing a rash of murders on their college campus. Season Two sees the remaining sisters moving their reign of terror into a local hospital owned by their former dean. If you are looking for responsible queer representation, however, this ain’t it!
Fresh Off the Boat (ABC) (2015 – 2020): 6 Seasons, 116 Episodes
Fresh Off The Boat is an endearing and hilarious family sitcom all about a Taiwanese-American family living in Florida in the 90s. It contains a heartwarming teen coming out storyline and is sharp in its comedic voice. As Jessica, Constance Wu is phenomenal, and the shift in the second season to focus more on the parents and a little less on the oldest son Eddie really opens up the universe of the show and allows for complex stories about marriage and family. Also, the soundtrack slaps.
Let Natalie tell you all about this queer love plot: “When Angela Montenegro broke the heart of her art school girlfriend, Roxie, lost her muse and went eight years without publicly displaying her work. Meanwhile, Angela put her classical art training to work at the Jeffersonian Institute in forensic facial reconstruction. But then the exes cross paths after Roxie’s implicated a crime, Montenegro is reminded that the only thing between them that’s changed is time…and once Roxie’s vindicated, the pair share a kiss.”
You could watch all 52 episodes of this soapy mystery show on Hulu, but also we wouldn’t judge you if you just wanted to watch the tiny arc between real estate agent Josslyn (Jes Macallan) and lesbian character Alex (Shannyn Sossaman), who meet in the pilot and begin flirting more or less immediately. Alex sticks around for 8 episodes. It looks like Season Three involved some light lesbianing as well?
The Secret Life of the American Teenager (Freeform) (2008-2013): 5 Seasons, 121 Episodes
Once you get 121 episodes deep into a show — even a show that, upon launch, was widely seen as promoting an anti-choice agenda and other “family values” philosophies — and lesbians will turn up! A lesbian played by Anne Ramsey, specifically. But also, a lesbian mom played by Molly Ringwald! There’s also a tiny sweeps situation. VERY light queer.
Letterkenny (Hulu) (2016-): 8 (short) Seasons So Far, 54 Episodes
This quirky Canadian comedy is full of quick-witted, fast-talking folks with very specifically Canadian humor that somehow seems universally hilarious. It seems all of the women are canonically queer, though the only real on-screen proof we get of that is when Katy (Michelle Mylett) walks out of the bathroom with Mrs. McMurray (Wynonna Earp‘s Melanie Scrofano) having obviously just hooked up. Still, it’s fun to see when the references do pop up, including but not limited to when Katy joins the boys in lusting after the town darling.
Two best friends get mixed up with a dangerous and mysterious clique when they begin as freshmen at University. Georgia is swept up in the glamour and exclusivity, while Holly is tentative and suspicious. Season One relies mostly on subtext and Season Two has a bigger part for Louise, a lesbian, but it doesn’t end well.
Reality & Documentary TV With Queer Talent Streaming on Hulu
America’s Next Top Model (2003 – 2015) (UPN + The CW + CBS): 22 Seasons, 285 Episodes
The first 22 Seasons of ANTM, before the VH1 reboot, are available on Hulu. The program consistently included lesbian and bisexual contestants. Notable memories include Kim Stolz being hot hooking up with Sarah in Season Five, Ebony battling homophobic models in Season One, Isis King becoming the first trans woman contestant in Season Eleven, Megan being accidentally outed and then required to be part of a Portia De Rossi / Ellen DeGeneres photoshoot in Season Seven and out-and-proud Kayla in Season Fifteen and our introduction to AZ Marie Livingston in Cycle 18 (AZMarie would later date Raven-Symone). Also interesting is the number of contestants who came out after being on the program.
Other shows on Hulu with extremely minor queer characters: The Mindy Project, Casual, Desperate Housewives, Friday Night Lights, Parenthood, NYPD Blue, Weeds, Cougar Town
This post was originally written in 2017 and has been updated in July 2020.
Amazon: an evil company with a lot of free television for Prime Members! What TV shows with lesbian, bisexual and queer women characters are on Amazon Prime? What a good question you may have typed into your computer browser, looking for queer television program with lesbian storylines! Lesbian bisexual queer TV shows on Amazon Prime! Streaming!
There are more programs available on Amazon for an extra fee as well as add-on channels, this post is just covering the shows that come with your subscription and for which you can watch the entire series on Amazon for free.
Amazon Streaming TV Shows With Lesbian and Bisexual and Queer Characters and Lots of Queer Stuff
One Mississippi (Amazon Original): 2 Seasons, 12 Episodes
Tig Notaro’s super-good semi-autobiographical comedy series follows a Los Angeles radio host “Tig Bavaro” as she returns home to Mississippi after a double mastectomy and a C. difficile infection to be with her family when her mother is taken off life support. She moves in with her brother and stepfather and begins learning things about her mother and her home that she never knew. Then she falls for a straight girl played by her real-life girlfriend Stephanie Allynne. It’s really funny and when it got cancelled I was very sad.
Transparent is centered on a Los Angeles based Jewish family who are basically all queer, except for the straight guy who can suck it he’s the worst. Transparent has trans women playing trans women, it has a bisexual Mom who gets kinky with Jiz Lee and has a throuple, it has a twenty-something daughter with a fluid sexuality and gender presentation, it has multiple lesbian trans women, it has Carrie Brownstein playing a bisexual named Syd and Cherry Jones playing, basically, Eileen Myles. It was brilliantly written and it employs more trans and queer folks behind the camera than any show.
Last week we told you about Danger & Eggs and how it’s got queer themes, queer characters, a trans woman co-creator and a cast that includes so many of our favorite humans — Stephanie Beatriz, Jasika Nicole, Angelica Ross, Cameron Esposito, Rhea Butcher, Tyler Ford, Jazz Jennings and Laura Zak. This week could be the week that you find out for yourself why everybody is so excited for Danger & Eggs! I’m also excited, generally speaking, for danger, and also for eggs, scrambled.
Anyone But Me: 3 Seasons, 31 Episodes
photographed by Michael Seto for Anyone But Me
Remember this adorable webseries from 2009-2011 starring Nicole Pacent and Rachael Hip-Flores, Autostraddle’s 2009 Critters of the Year, as two teenagers who fall for each other and have all kinds of self-discovery and also so do their friends? If you do, you’ll be happy to hear it’s on Amazon and if you don’t, well GO WATCH IT.
The Fosters (Freeform): 5 Seasons, 104 Episodes
(ABC Family/Eric McCandless)
The Fosters was lauded for its portrayal of a family headed up by a lesbian couple — Stef (Teri Polo), a cop, and Lena (Sherri Saum), a school administrator. Over the course of the show the story weaves around Stef and Lena as well as their foster and biological children. This includes a foster son who comes out as gay, their daughter Callie dating a transgender boy. A dozen or so other queer characters pop in and out of this sometimes heartwarming and often messy little show.
TV Shows on Amazon With Lesbian and Bisexual and Queer Characters and a Good Amount of Queer Stuff
Humans (Channel 4): 3 Seasons, 24 Episodes
Humans is so good and so underrated why didn’t you all watch Humans when we told you to? Good news there’s still time, gather round for this gripping sci-fi series about a parallel present in which the must-have gadget for any busy family is a “Synth,” basically a robot servant. But what if the robots got sick of being servants! And what if Niska fell in love with a woman!
Hannibal (NBC): 3 Seasons, 39 Episodes
Season Two of this psychological thriller introduced a recurring lesbian character, Margot Verger, who, after a detour into Unfortunate Tropesville, eventually gets a love interest and offspring. You’ll have to endure some cannibalism to get there, though, but isn’t that true about everything, really?
The Good Wife (CBS): 7 Seasons, 156 Episodes
The Good Wife began as a story about the loyal wife of a state’s attorney embroiled in a sex and corruption scandal she was forced to publicly endure. Then it becomes a story about the wife returning to her career as a lawyer, which brings us to her law firm and to her smokin’ hot bisexual investigator Kalinda Sharma. Kalinda appears in 86% of the series episodes and sometimes (!!!!) even has involvements with ladies.
Orphan Black (BBC America): 5 Seasons, 50 Episodes
Photo: Jan Thijs 2013
This science fiction thriller stars Tatiana Maslany as a bunch of clones, including queer Experimental Evolutionary Developmental Biology Ph.D. student Cosima. She has a scissoring relationship with Delphine Cormier. Honestly every time I write a blurb for this show I end up getting something wrong about it. Did I do okay.
Defiance (SyFy): 3 Seasons, 38 Episodes
Defiance is a dystopian sci-fi series set in (what used to be) St. Louis after a whole bunch of alien wars ravaged and terraformed the entire earth. Now humans and aliens are living together! Kenya Rosewater (played brilliantly by your girl Mia “Jenny Schecter” Kirshner) owns a brothel called Need/Want and during season one she falls for a Castithan noble named Stahma Tarr (played deliciously by your girl Jaime “HG Wells” Murray).
American Horror Story (FX): 8 Seasons, 94 Episodes
Seasons 1-8 are free on Amazon Prime, and Season Two is probably the queerest — that’s the one where Sarah Paulson plays a lesbian reporter trapped in an asylum and forced to undergo conversion therapy while her girlfriend Clea Duvall sits at home waiting to be murdered. Seasons Four and Five are also chock-full of LGBTQ+ characters, ranging from “pretty cool” to “super offensive.” You’ll see!
Counterpart (Starz): 2 Seasons, 20 Episodes
Baldwin, a masculine-of-center lesbian and trained assassin never given the chance to develop a true emotional life or any dreams of her own, a fact laid bare when she’s forced to watch her counterpart, an accomplished classical violinist, die in an alternate dimension. Her story weaves around and connects with the primary storyline in a gripping, dark story that never got its due
Hunters (Amazon Original): 1 Season So Far, 10 Episodes
Three decades after World War II, a group of Jews and allies have set out to find and kill Nazis who are still living, thriving and employed in the United States. FBI Agent Millie Morton is on the case and also she’s a lesbian! Who lives with her hot girlfriend! It’s a sharply stylized series with a winning cast, although its Holocaust flashbacks can be alternately horrifying and problematic.
Joey Soloway’s series based on the book by Chris Kraus brought Roberta Colindrez as Devon into our lives, and the world has not been the same since. Chris (Kathryn Hahn) heads to Marfa for her husband Sylvère’s (Griffin Dunne) fellowship and meets the sponsor, Dick, who she becomes immediately obsessed with. Different characters head up individual episodes, and Devon’s is SURPRISE my favorite.
Season One of Homecoming, based on a Gimlet podcast, starred Julia Roberts as a caseworker for veterans at a live-in transition center for veterans sponsored by a giant corporation with some sinister secret intentions. It’s a watch-in-one-night binge: eerie, intense, winding and worth it. Season Two opens with a new protagonist, played by Janelle Monáe, waking up in a rowboat in the middle of a river. Also, she’s gay.
TV Shows With LGBTQ Women Characters Streaming on Amazon With a Fine Amount of Queer Stuff
Red Oaks (Amazon Original): 3 Seasons, 30 Episodes
Set in a New Jersey country-club in the mid-80s, Red Oaks has a regular character who, following a divorce, starts questioning her sexuality and tentatively wading into the waters of light kissing with other ladies. Judy is played by Jennifer Grey, who you may remember from a little dancing movie set in a Catskills summer resort in the mid-50s in which nobody put baby in a corner.
The Fall: 3 Seasons, 11 Episodes
It’s a dark, quiet, suspenseful-and-creepy-as-hell crime series starring Gillian Anderson as a sexually fluid detective psychologically rattled by a particularly challenging case. She kicks ass and takes names, working alongside an adorable lesbian police constable who unfortunately she does not make out with. Look out for Archie Pangabi playing another queer-ish character, Dr. Tanya Reed Smith.
House: 8 Seasons,
Home Fires (ITV): 2 Seasons, 12 Episodes
ITV STUDIOS PRESENTS
Home Fires is a British period television drama about women who come together to make Jam during World War II. Also, lesbians.
American Gothic (CBS): 1 Season, 13 Episodes
American Gothic lasted for one entire season, and included a storyline where a married politician running for Mayor was having an affair with her female campaign manager.
House (Fox): 8 Seasons, 177 Episodes
Olivia Wilde plays gay yet again for us in House ad Dr. Remy “Thirteen” Hadley, a bisexual internist who joins House’s medical team in season three. For most of the series she is dating fellow doctor Dr. Eric Forman (Omar Epps).
Picnic at Hanging Rock (Amazon Original), One Season, 8 Episodes
The classic 1975 novel about three schoolgirls who vanish from Appleyard College for Young ladies on Valentine’s Day 1900 has been adapted before — Peter Weir’s 1975 film “certainly picked up on the erotic subtext” of the story, but the new Foxtel series “takes the sexual undercurrents rippling among the residents of Appleyard College and the local townsfolk and makes them a tad more obvious.” According to one writer, “this adaptation is fundamentally about queerness, about how each character discovers, experiences, and reacts to their queerness, and about the consequences of the choices each character makes as a result of their queerness.” YMMV on how much queerness you pick up on.
Vikings (The History Channel): 6 Seasons, 79 Episodes
Viking is a historical drama series inspired by the sagas of Norse hero Viking Ragnar Lothbrok. At some point, shield-maiden Astrid has a romance with legendary shield maiden Lagertha? There is also some death involved in this.
Fleabag (Amazon Prime): 2 Seasons, 12 Episodes
In its second season, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s eponymous protagonist confirms her bisexuality while sharing a drink with a lesbian businesswoman played by Kristin Scott Thomas. But you’re gonna watch this show regardless because it’s so good!
Alpha House (Amazon Prime): 2 Seasons, 20 Episodes
Inspired by several fictional Republican Senators who share a Washington DC row-house in this political satire with a long list of revered recurring/guest actors (Wanda Sykes, Amy Sedaris, Cynthia Nixon) and cameos from figures including Stephen Colbert, Rachel Maddow and Elizabeth Warren. Julie Carrel (Brooke Bloom) is the chief-of-staff for Senator Louis and her girlfriend, Katherine (Natalie Gold) is chief-of staff to a different senator. They eventually get pregnant!
Hanna (Amazon Original): 2 Seasons So Far, 16 Episodes
Hanna lives in a remote Polish forest with her father, the only man she’s ever known. She was part of a CIA program he recruited for, where children’s DNA was enhanced with 3% wolf to form “super-soldiers.” In Season 2 we meet other children from the same program and one of them, Jules, is a lesbian.
Mozart in the Jungle (Amazon Original): 4 Seasons, 40 Episodes
This comedy-drama series was inspired by “Mozart in the Jungle: Sex Drugs and Classical Music,” in which oboist Blair Tindall recounted her professional career in high-profile symphonies. Saffron Burrows plays Cynthia Taylor, a bisexual cellist with The New York Symphony and Gretchen Mol is Nina, a union lawyer who initially hits it off with Cynthia.
TV Shows Streaming on Amazon With a Small-to-Okay Amount of Queer Stuff
The Man in the High Castle (Amazon Original): 4 Seasons, 40 Episodes
You’ve really got to pay attention to a lot of high-concept yet often quite absurd alternate history depicting a parallel universe where the Axis powers won World War II and thus Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan are in charge, each taking a piece of the United States for themselves. I can’t even get into the characters, it’s very complicated! A small lesbian storyline arrives in Season Three.
The Expanse (Syfy + Amazon): 4 Seasons, 46 Episodes
The Expanse follows a disparate band of antiheroes as they grapple with a conspiracy that is threatening the fragile future they’re living in a colonized Solar System. Also; being queer is not a big deal in this future! Elizabeth Mitchell plays lesbian character Anna Volovodov, a doctor who leads a small Methodist congregation.
Let Natalie tell you all about this queer love plot: “When Angela Montenegro broke the heart of her art school girlfriend, Roxie, lost her muse and went eight years without publicly displaying her work. Meanwhile, Angela put her classical art training to work at the Jeffersonian Institute in forensic facial reconstruction. But then the exes cross paths after Roxie’s implicated a crime, Montenegro is reminded that the only thing between them that’s changed is time…and once Roxie’s vindicated, the pair share a kiss.” (This is under the “okay amount of gay stuff” because relative to the entire length of the series, there’s not a lot.)
Goliath (Amazon Original): 3 Seasons So Far, 24 Episodes
“Down and out” lawyer Billy McBride, played by Billy Bob Thornton, gets pulled back into the work through some byzantine and unexpected cases, including a TRULY BIZARRE Season Two situation that continues to haunt me. Anyhow, there are some adjacent queer women characters who appear in Seasons One and Three, including Billy’s ex-wife, played by Maria Bello. Nina Arianda’s performance as Patty Solis-Papagian is a genuine delight!
Carnival Row (Amazon Original): One Season So Far, 8 Episodes
This neo-Victorian fantasy-noir finds bands of mythical creatures escaping from their riotous homeland to seek comfort in a city where they are not entirely welcome. Queer model/actress Cara Delevingne plays Vignette Stonemoss, who is pansexual and was involved fellow faerie Tourmaline, although that element of her character earns only the most passing of mentions.
Forever (Amazon Original): One Series, 8 Episodes
Depending on who you ask, this series either contains a TON of gay stuff or barely any gay stuff. If you ask me, for example, I would edge towards the “minimal gay stuff” because none of it is explicit or consummated and I was disappointed by it on multiple levels. However, if you ask Heather, she would say that Forever “explores middle-aged queerness in a way [she’s] never seen before on TV.”
Phillip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (Amazon Original): One Season, 10 Episodes
Sarah and Katie. Where’s the VR game I can play that gets me into THIS scenario?
One episode of this anthology series tells the story of a future policewoman, played by Anna Paquin, sharing headspace with a game designer as both track down violent killers whose existence has enormous consequences.
It should go without saying, but… This post is gonna have some spoilers in it. Just getting that out of the way ahead of time.
The past few years have been a miracle in terms of queer representation on TV. More and more shows are starting to include (or at least allude to) non-heteronormative storylines, even if the LGBT characters aren’t the greatest representation of queer culture at large.
Still, even with all the representation we get these days, it’s still really, really hard to find a show that not only has queer characters, but lets them stay alive and partnered up and… You know… Not total jerks. (Sigh, PLL… Why did you have to make the only transgender character a psychopath, who then dies in a horrible way? And, of course, there have been two other queer ladies to die in that show, too. But I digress.)
With all that being said, there are a few shows which offered their lady-loving-ladies a happy ending when the show ended. Join us as we count them down now:
1. Ellen and Laurie, Ellen (1998)
It might be safe to assume that Ellen DeGeneres wouldn’t have allowed for her own character to have a horrible ending… But still, Ellen and Laurie finish out the show by confirming their commitment to each other, with the vow that they would be legally married as soon as it was possible to do so. 17 years later, it finally was – so the fandom should rejoice that the couple (presumably) made it down the aisle eventually.
2. Helen and Nikki, Bad Girls (2001)
Most jailhouse romances don’t seem to make it – partially because there’s the twisted idea that what happens behind bars “doesn’t really count.” Regardless, though, Helen and Nikki ended up running off into the proverbial sunset together, promising to take things slow onto the future. Aww. Slow-moving lesbian couples are my favorite.
3. Jessie and Katie, Once and Again (2002)
As a huge Evan Rachel Wood fan, it always makes me super happy to see her in anything… Even if she’s not playing a queer character. However, her character in Once and Again was definitely queer, and the two were still together when the show was cancelled. We can only assume that they’re still together 14 years later, because hello, who doesn’t dream of marrying their high school sweetheart? (At least, you dream of that while you’re with that person. I’m sure things change if you break up. I didn’t exactly have a high school sweetheart, so I can’t confirm.)
4. Willow and Kennedy, Buffy (2003)
Okay, okay… Kennedy isn’t Tara, and maybe we all hated her for that for a little while. But, to be fair, Willow seemed pretty happy with her – and they were still together when the show ended. TBH, our opinion about their relationship doesn’t matter as much as their happiness in their relationship, am I right? I’m right. Just trust me on this one.
5. Carol and Susan, Friends (2004)
Again, regardless of how you feel about the couple – and the fact that they were often paraded in front of poor Ross’s face at every available opportunity – there’s no doubt that they made each other happy. They even got married and raised little Ben together as a couple. Plus, Lea DeLaria and Candance Gingrich were in attendance at their wedding, which sort of gives them extra cool points. (We all wish we had such cool lesbian friends. Don’t even try to pretend you don’t.)
6. Melanie and Lindsay, Queer as Folk (2005)
Does it count as “happily ever after” if you break up and then get back together? I’d like to think it does. When they moved to Canada to get away from the US government, the rest of the LGBT community in the United States wanted to be right there with them. Sadly… I’m still stuck in the middle of California myself… But one day I, too, will flee to Canada with my other half. One day.
7. Kerry and Courtney, ER (2007)
Dr. Kerry Weaver went through more than her fair share of lesbian relationship woes before ending up with Courtney, but apparently the writers and producers came to their senses and made her fall for… a hot TV producer. Of course. Pat on the back to themselves, here, but whatevs – at least she’s happy at last!
8. Spencer and Ashley, South of Nowhere (2008)
Fun fact: This particular show had a lot to do with the timing of me coming out. Spashley went through a ridiculous number of bisexual back-and-forth, often trading turns with Aiden, the third side of their love triangle. However, once everything was said and done, Spashley ended up Uhauling off into the sunset together like every millennial queer chick in the fandom always knew they would.
9. Olivia and Natalia, Guiding Light (2009)
GL fans weren’t super happy about all the crazy trials and tribulations that these two had to face, but thankfully the writers came to their senses in the end and let the two stay together, “forever” – or at least until after the show ended.
10. Bette and Tina & Alice and Tasha, The L Word (2009)
It’s rare enough for a TV show to let one queer couple ending, but for one show to allow two couples to stay together and live happily ever after? Pure joy. However you might feel about Bette and Tina (I’m not a big fan, myself) it’s nice to know that they were able to work through things, I guess.
And, Alice and Tasha will always be my favorite couple from the show, even if it wasn’t exactly confirmed that they were getting back together. They totally were.
11. Chris and Kris & Jen and Sam, Exes & Ohs (2011)
Chris and Kris end up getting married and having a baby, while Jen and Sam happen to end up together too. Sure, it might have been another lesbian-centric storyline to begin with (which does increase the odds of an all-female relationship making it through), but still… Good job, Michelle Paradise, for making everyone happy with this one.
12. Remy and her girlfriend, House (2012)
As sad as it is that Thirteen lost her job, and she’s got Huntington’s Disease (probably), and that her girlfriend’s name wasn’t ever revealed… They had a lovely relationship, we’re sure of it. And, as far as we can tell, they’re going to spend the rest of their lives together, because if you break up off-camera in a TV show it doesn’t really count.
13. Brittany and Santana, Glee (2015)
I never really got into Glee when it was super popular, but Tumblr taught me all about the wonders that were the Brittana ‘ship. Once I ended up (briefly) dating a girl who was Brittana-obsessed, I got a little into it… And it turns out, the Brittana fandom got their way in the end, when the producers decided to let Brittany and Santana get married finally.
14. Julie and Nikki, The Returned (2015)
In a show that is literally about dead people, it’s hard to picture anything resembling a happy ending… Well, that is, anything about dead people that wasn’t directed by Tim Burton, of course. Anyway, Julie and Nikki not only made it in the end, but they even got to kiss when it was all said and done. Aww.
15. Alana and Margot, Hannibal (2015)
When the main character is a serial killer, you just know that people are going to die left and right. It was quite a shock, then, that Alana and Margot got to stay alive all the way to the end. Kudos, Alana and Margot… You guys really made it.
16. Bo and Lauren, Lost Girl (2016)
Any show that deals primarily in the supernatural is sure to have extra pressures put on the characters… Especially when most LGBT characters get killed off pretty early on. However, Bo and Lauren made it, which just proves that things can work out – as long as you’re a supernatural entity, at least.