LGBTQ+ characters haven’t had it easy on the small screen. After being demonised or erased entirely over the span of decades, queer stories are now finally being told on TV with the kind of nuance usually reserved for their heterosexual counterparts.
As a result of past mistreatment, LGBTQ+ characters also number among the strongest people you’ll see on any show, particularly within the realms of fantasy and science fiction, which are often more progressive than stories set in the real world.
We’ve rounded up eight queer heroes who have recently kicked all kinds of ass on the small screen and helped inspire change for a better future.
1. Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
Sara Lance started out as a secondary character on Arrow and was defined mostly by her relationship with Oliver Queen, but over the years, the bisexual hero has stepped to the fore of the Arrow-verse, leading the Legends of Tomorrow on their quest to save time.
Rather than turn her sexuality into a huge plot-line, the writers have incorporated Sara’s love of both men and women into her story without fanfare, making her a fan favourite in the process.
2. Bill Potts (Pearl Mackie) in Doctor Who
Before the BBC finally got round to casting a female star in the role of Doctor Who, queer representation arrived in the form of Bill Potts, a black lesbian who travelled alongside the titular hero as his companion. Doctor Who has always enjoyed an exceptionally wide audience, so it was particularly gratifying to see the show start reflecting more of the people who watch it, even if she only lasted for one series.
3. Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton) in Sense8
Unfairly cancelled far too soon, Sense8 features an entire cast of pansexual characters whose unique bond enables them to transcend typical notions of love and sexuality, but out of everyone in the cluster, it’s Nomi Marks who impresses most. Not only is she a badass hacker, but Nomi is also trans and it’s remarkable that the show refuses to define her solely through her gender.
4. Paul “Jesus” Monroe (Tom Payne) in The Walking Dead
You’d be forgiven for thinking that LGBTQ+ people are usually the first to die in any given apocalypse as representation in these end of world stories is often minimal at best. However, The Walking Dead has become a powerful exception to this rule and whether you’ve stuck with the show or not, it’s hard to deny that Jesus remains one of its most compelling characters.