LGBTQ representation on television has evolved every year since 1997 when Ellen DeGeneres became the first mainstream character to proclaim the words “I’m gay” on her sitcom, Ellen.
Although the character was gay, actor Eric McCormack identifies as straight. The Canada native admitted to the Sydney Morning Herald in 2018 that he “wouldn’t get anywhere near” the role of Will today, which earned him three Emmy nominations and one win.
“I think it wasn’t a terrible thing in 1998 that a straight guy played the role, but I’m glad that times are changing, and I’m glad that nowadays a Will Truman would probably be cast with someone who is gay,” McCormack said at the time.
Decades later, Pose paved the way for LGBTQ representation when it introduced the largest transgender cast in TV history. The FX series — which debuted in 2018 — followed the New York City underground ballroom scene in the 1980s and 1990s. Indya Moore portrays sex worker Angel Evangelista, who has big dreams of becoming a model. Moore told GQ in 2018 that their audition for the role stirred up memories from the past.
“The audition script was the diner scene between Angel and Stan [Evan Peters], when she says, ‘Do you think of me as a real woman?'” Moore recalled. “I remember it brought back so many moments in my life where I had so much trouble navigating the world because I wanted to be seen as a regular girl, a woman.”
The Queen & Slim star added that LGBTQ stories can be just as relatable as narratives told from a straight perspective.
“Everyone that’s ever seen Pose who isn’t trans or doesn’t have any connection to the LGBTQ community has been given the opportunity to create empathetic relationships to the characters that they would not have otherwise been able to,” they said. “That’s super essential in helping counter homophobia and transphobia.”
Scroll down to see a list of LGBTQ characters on TV from past and present.