Entertainment

9 Iconic Queer TV Characters Played by LGBTQ+ Actors

The internet is abuzz after the reveal of a new queer romance on Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, between veteran anchor Laura Peterson (Julianna Margulies) and UBA’s Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), whom we’d presumed to be heterosexual until last week’s episode ended with a steamy Bradley-Laura backseat make-out. Fans were over the moon to see actors as huge as Witherspoon and Margulies taking part in a moment of queer representation onscreen, and the instantly-iconic kiss got us thinking about our favorite LGBTQ+ characters on TV — especially those played by LGBTQ+ actors.

While our hearts inevitably warm at any portrayal of queer romance that helps normalize these stories and raise awareness of the struggles still faced by the LGBTQ+ population, there’s no doubt that representation off-screen is just as important, ensuring that the movie and TV industry actually practices what it preaches when it comes to inclusion and equal opportunity. Take a recent example: Billy Porter’s portrayal of ballroom emcee Pray Tell in Pose.

No matter what, the character of Pray Tell would have been an important moment of representation for the queer community. But Porter’s intense ability to relate to his character, down to his HIV positive diagnosis revealed in 2021, undoubtedly transformed just how nuanced and vulnerable his portrayal was able to be.

As Porter told The Hollywood ReporterPose was “an opportunity to work through the shame [of HIV] and where I have gotten to in this moment…the brilliance of Pray Tell and this opportunity was that I was able to say everything that I wanted to say through a surrogate.” Pray Tell was a brilliantly-written character — but Porter’s performance and the show’s reception were deepened by the actor’s unique ability to understand the complex emotions and stigma of what he sought to represent.

In honor of all the LGBTQ+ actors who have brought us invaluable queer stories on TV, we’re taking a look at our favorite LGBTQ+ TV characters brought to life by queer actors. These roles offered queer actors invaluable opportunities to tell queer stories on TV, fighting for representation and visibility while bringing juicy drama, hilarious comedy, and meaningful relationships to our TVs every week — and we’re so thankful. Read on for our favorites.

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