IMDB: Television Shows with LGBTQ Main Characters

Critical Media Project: LGBTQ Representation in the Media

Will & Grace Celebrate Pride Month

Wikipedia: Media Portrayal of LGBTQ People

IMDB: Timeline of LGBTQ Couples in TV History

Top Ten Groundbreaking Moments for LGBTQ TV Characters

LGBTQ on Television


Storylines and characters of interest to gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer people can be found in significant numbers on television via broadcast, cable, and streaming venues. This is a partial list of television shows that feature LGBTQ characters, situations, and themes.


Instinct (2018)

Vida (2018)

Pose (2018)

The Good Fight (2017)

When We Rise (2017)

Finding Prince Charming (2016)

Degrassi: Next Class (2016)

Gaycation (2016)

Skam (2015)

Cheetah in August (2015)

Sense 8 (2015)

Cucumber (2015)

Grace and Frankie (2015)



How to Get Away With Murder (2014)

Looking (2014)

Transparent (2014)

Faking It (2014)

It Got Better (2014)

Please Like Me (2013)

Orange is the New Black (2013)

The Fosters (2013)

New Normal (2012)

Shameless (2011)

Threesome (2011)

Happy Endings (2011)

Pretty Little Liars (2010)

Modern Family (2009)

Glee (2009)

United States of Tara (2009)

RuPaul's Drag Race (2009)

True Blood (2008)

90210 (2008)

Sordid Lives (2008)



The Lair (2007)

Big Gay Sketch Show (2007)

Skins (2007)

Torchwood (2006)

Brothers and Sisters (2006)

Ugly Betty (2006)

Line of Beauty (2006)

Noah’s Arc (2005)

Dante's Cove (2005)

The L Word (2004)



Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (2003)

Reno 911 (2003)

Degrassi: Next Generation (2001)

Six Feet Under (2001)

Queer as Folk (2000)

Sex & The City (1998)

Will & Grace (1998)

Oz (1997)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)

Tales of the City (1993)

In The Life (1992)

Brothers (1984)

Love Sidney (1981)

Corner Bar (1972)


YouTube: Gay Themes TV Shows Worth Watching

GLAAD Report: LGBTQ Inclusion On Television

Wikipedia: List of Comedy TV Series with LGBTQ Characters

Video: Hottest Openly Gay Male Actors in Hollywood

Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Gay

Indie Wire: Best Queer Representation on Television



Historic LGBTQ Television Moments


Andi Mack - In 2017, in a first for Disney Channel, a key character on its popular tween series Andi Mack realizes he’s gay and comes out to his friends. The story will mark the channel’s first depiction of a coming-out journey.


Roseanne - In 2017, the reboot of the 1990’s sitcom Roseanne included a gender fluid character. Some of the new characters in the show include the children of Darlene (Sarah Gilbert) and David (Johnny Galecki). Their 9 year old child Mark is “gender creative.” The actor plays sensitive and effeminate and displays qualities of both young female and male traits. Roseanne originally aired on ABC television from 1988 to 1997 and was known for pushing the envelope on social issues.


Good Luck Charlie - In 2014, Disney featured its first openly gay characters ever on the channel on an episode of Good Luck Charlie. Two lesbian moms, Susan and Cheryl, paid a visit to the Duncan family household. The moms were received with open arms by Charlie's parents, Bob and Amy.


Glee - Fox debuts the 2009 American musical comedy-drama, which focuses on a high school glee club. Over the course of the show, the glee club members deal with social issues, their relationships and sexuality. It has prominent LGBTQ content.  The show is a commercial success for Fox and wins several awards.



The L Word - Showtime debuts the 2004 television drama which focuses on a group of lesbian, bisexual and transgender friends in Los Angeles. The series airs for five years.


Ellen DeGeneres Show - The daytime talk show, begins airing on NBC in 2003. As of 2011, the show has won 32 Daytime Emmy Awards.


Queer Eyes for the Straight Guy - Bravo debuts the reality television series in 2003. The show features a team of five gay men who perform makeovers on straight men. Each of the five guys has an area of expertise: fashion, style, personal grooming, interior design and culture. The show becomes a rating success and wins an Emmy for Outstanding Reality Program.


Buffy the Vampire Slayer - The popular TV series, launched in 2001, paves new ground by becoming the first show to develop a gradual, accurate, and full-blown lesbian relationship between two of the major characters, Willow, played by Alyson Hannigan, and Tara, played by Amber Benson.


All My Children - Daytime soap All My Children breaks new ground in 2000 when the character Bianca Montgomery realizes she's a lesbian. Bianca, played by Eden Riegel, is the daughter of Erica Kane, arguably the most popular character in the history of American daytime soap operas. It is the first time that a major, continuing role has a homosexual orientation on daytime TV.


Queer as Folk - Begins airing on Showtime in 2000. Set in Pittsburgh, the series tells the story of five gay men. The show is a US version of the UK TV series.



Dawson’s Creek - The season 2000 finale of Dawson's Creek features the first passionate kiss between two men to ever take place during primetime. Jack McPhee (played by Kerr Smith) shares the onscreen kiss with boyfriend Ethan (played by Adam Kauffman) in this episode, titled "True Love." Earlier in the series, McPhee comes out after briefly dating Katie Holmes' character Joey.


Ally McBeal - In a much-watched episode in 1999, Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart) and fellow lawyer and co-worker Ling Woo (Lucy Liu) engage in a 21-second-long kiss.


Will & Grace -  The NBC sitcom debuts in 1998. The series is built around four main characters, two gay men and two heterosexual women. The series goes on to air for 8 years, win 16 Emmys and become part of NBC's highly successful Thursday night "Must See TV" lineup.


Relativity - ABC airs a ground-breaking episode of Relativity in 1997, which features a scene in which a supporting character, out-lesbian Rhonda, played by Lisa Edelstein, shares a passionate kiss with another woman. This is the first open-mouth kiss between two women aired on prime time television.


Ellen - The coming-out episode of Ellen airs in 1997. In the episode, the main character, played by Ellen DeGeneres, comes out to her therapist, played by Oprah Winfrey. The episode, titled "The Puppy Episode", is one of the highest-rated of the series.



Friends - Carol is Ross's ex-wife, who realized that she was a lesbian. In 1996, Carol marries Susan, her partner, in network TV's first lesbian wedding.


Serving in Silence - The 1995 made-for-TV movie airs, featuring Glenn Close and Judy Davis. The film challenges the U.S. military's position on homosexuality. Close and Davis both win Emmy Awards for their roles.


Picket Fences – On the 1993 CBS TV show, two teenage girls kiss. The network demands that the scene be reshot in the dark.


L.A. Law - The first kiss between a homosexual couple airs in 1991 on network TV during an episode of L.A. Law. Abby Perkins, played by Michele Greene, and C.J. Lamb, played by Amanda Donohoe, kiss after Abby gets a raise. Advertisers threaten to pull their ads over the scene.


My Two Loves - The 1986 made-for-TV movie airs. The film features Mariette Harley questioning her sexuality after her husband dies. She has an affair with Lynn Redgrave in the film.


An Early Frost – NBC airs a 1985 TV movie of the week, featuring Aidan Quinn as a Chicago attorney who goes home to tell his parents that he is gay and has AIDS. It is the first major film that deals with the subject of AIDS.


Soap - On the 1977 primetime TV series Soap, Billy Crystal plays Jodie Dallas, a gay man.


Hot l Baltimore - ABC debuts a short lived Norman Lear series in 1975, which features the first gay couple on TV. On the show, the characters George and Gordon are an older gay couple.


That Certain Summer - A 1972 made for TV movie, airs as the ABC Movie of the Week. It is the first TV movie to deal with the subject of homosexuality sympathetically. Martin Sheen and Hal Holbrook, big name stars at the time, play lovers.


IMDB: Gay Themed TV Shows

YouTube: Best TV Lesbian Kisses

Will & Grace Celebrate Pride Month

Top Ten Groundbreaking Moments for LGBTQ TV Characters

Huff Post: Gay TV Shows

Timeline: LGBTQ in Pop Culture



Featured LGBTQ Television Scenes


Ellen: Coming Out Scene

Dawson’s Creek: Jack and Ethan Kiss

LA Law: CJ and Abby Kiss

Glee: Kurt’s Dad Confronts Finn

Friends: Lesbian Wedding

Melrose Place: Ella and Melissa Kiss

Glee: Santana and Brittany Scenes

Modern Family: Mitch and Cam’s Wedding

Transparent: Season 1-2 Recap

Disney’s Good Luck Charlie: Susan and Cheryl

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Tara and Willow

All My Children: Bianca Comes Out to Erica

Glee: Santana and Brittany Montage


Characters Showcasing Positive LGBTQ Representation on Television


Instinct / Dr. Dylan Reinhart

The 100 / Clarke Griffin

Inhuman Condition / Michelle Kessler

How to Get Away With Murder / Connor Walsh, Annalise Keating

Fear the Walking Dead / Victor Strand

Empire / Tiana Brown, Jamal Lyon

Sense 8 / Nomi Marks, Lito Rodriguez

Supergirl / Maggie Sawyer

Shannara Chronciles / Eretria

Grey's Anatomy / Arizona Robbins

Dead of Summer / Drew Reeves

Carmilla / S. LaFontaine, Laura Hollis

The Leslie / Leslie Clark

Black Sails / James Flint, Eleanor Guthrie

Orange is the New Black / Piper Chapman

Advocates / Iris, Adrian, Casey, Oscar

The Fosters / Lena and Stef Adams-Foster, Jude Adams-Foster, Aaron Baker

Carmilla / Carmilla Karnstein

Wynonna Earp / Waverly Earp, Nicole Haught

Transparent / Mort Pfeffermann

Orphan Black / Cosima Niehaus

Shadow Hunters / Malec


IMDB: Television Shows with LGBTQ Main Characters

Critical Media Project: LGBTQ Representation in the Media

Wikipedia: Media Portrayal of LGBTQ People

IMDB: Timeline of LGBTQ Couples in TV History



First Gay Kiss on Network Television


The first gay kiss on network television was on LA Law, between Amanda Donohoe and Michelle Green in 1991. After that, Roseanne Barr kissed Mariel Hemingway (Roseanne), Calista Flockhart kissed Lucy Liu (Ally McBeal), and Jennifer Aniston kissed Winona Ryder (Friends).


In 1994, on Melrose Place, Doug Savant kisses Ty Miller. In 1997, on Relativity, a lesbian couple caresses, nuzzles and goes for some passionate, open-mouthed kissing. On the Ellen show, after coming out in 1997, Ellen DeGeneres kisses Joely Fisher. In 1999, on Party of Five, Neve Campbell kisses Olivia D’Abo. In 2000, Dawson‘s Creek featured the first “passionate” kiss between two men on primetime television, involving Kerr Smith and Adam Kauffman.


On the Will & Grace show, gay kisses happened fairly regularly: Will & Scott, Will & Barry, Will & Vince, Jack & Jamie, Will & Malcolm, Will & James, and, of course, for fun one time, Will & Jack. 


Timeline: LGBTQ in Pop Culture

Dawson‘s Creek: First Passionate Gay Kiss on Television

Wikipedia: List of Dramatic TV Series with LGBTQ Characters

Huff Post: Queer Representation in the Media



LGBTQ Television Networks


Gay TV Television Network (2002)

Logo TV Cable Channel (2005)

Here TV Television Network (2002)

Out TV Cable Channel (2001)


YouTube: Gay Themes TV Shows Worth Watching

GLAAD Report: LGBTQ Inclusion On Television

Top Ten Groundbreaking Moments for LGBTQ TV Characters

Wikipedia: List of Comedy TV Series with LGBTQ Characters

Indie Wire: Best Queer Representation on Television


LGBTQ Television Actors


Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)

Luke McFarlane (Bothers & Sisters)

Chad Allen (Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman)

Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal)

Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory)

Guillermo Diaz (Scandal)

Dan Butler (Frasier)

Lily Tomlin (Grace & Frankie, Laugh In)

Ellen Page (Gaycation)

Alan Cumming (Instinct)



Chris Colfer (Glee)

Ricky Martin (The Voice)

Jane Lynch (Glee)

Craig Chester (True Blood)

Kate McKinnon (Saturday Night Live)

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)

BD Wong (Law & Order: SVU)

Anderson Cooper (Anderson Cooper 360)

Laverne Cox (Orange is the New Black)

Robert Gant (Queer as Folk)

Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City)

Graham Norton (Graham Norton Show)

John Glover (Smallville)



Randy Harrison (Queer as Folk)

Robin Roberts (Good Morning America)

Sean Hayes (Will & Grace)

Rachel Maddow (Rachel Maddow Show)

TR Knight (Grey’s Anatomy)

Ellen DeGeneres (Ellen)

Eric Millegan (Bones)

Sara Gilbert (Big Bang Theory, Roseanne)

Nathan Lane (Modern Family)

David Hyde Pierce (Frasier)

Rosie O’Donnell (The View)

Jai Rodriguez (Queer Eye)

Adamo Ruggiero (Degrassi: The Next Generation)



Portia de Rossi (Arrested Development, Ally McBeal)

George Takei (Star Trek)

Scott Thompson (Kids in the Hall)

Carrie Brownstein (Portlandia)

Suze Orman (Suze Orman Show)

David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H)

Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)

Gillian Anderson (X Files)

Raven-Symone (The View, Blackish, Cosby Show)

Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle USMC)

Robert Reed (Brady Bunch)

Dick Sargent (Bewitched)


IMDB: Gay Themed TV Shows

YouTube: Best TV Lesbian Kisses

Huff Post: Gay TV Shows

Timeline: LGBTQ in Pop Culture


GLAAD Media Report 2016-17


--Of the 895 regular characters expected to appear on primetime scripted broadcast programming in the coming year, 43 (4.8%) were identified as LGBTQ. There were an additional 28 recurring LGBTQ characters counted.

--There was an increase in the number of regular LGBTQ characters on cable, up to 92 from 84. However, LGBTQ recurring characters dropped year-over-year from 58 to 50. This is a total of 142 LGBTQ characters, regular and recurring.

--After GLAAD introduced its first count of LGBTQ characters on streaming services Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix last year, there is an increase in both regular and recurring LGBTQ characters expected this season. There will be 65 total LGBTQ characters on streaming services, up from 59.

--This year, there will be regular and recurring transgender characters on  all three platforms tracked (broadcast, cable, streaming). There are three trans characters counted on broadcast, six on cable, and seven on streaming original series. Of the 16, four are transgender men.



LGBTQ Broadcast Television


--Of 895 series regular characters counted on 118 primetime scripted shows on the broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, The CW, FOX, and NBC), 43 characters are LGBTQ. This is an increase from 35 reported last year.

--The overall percentage of LGBTQ regular characters on scripted broadcast series is 4.8%, an increase of eight-tenths of a percentage point from the previous year. This is the highest percentage of LGBTQ series regulars GLAAD has ever found.

--GLAAD counted an additional 28 recurring LGBTQ characters on scripted primetime broadcast programming.

--ABC posts the highest percentage of LGBTQ regular characters of all five broadcast networks with 7.3%

--FOX has the second highest percentage of LGBTQ regulars (6.4%), which is still above the percentage of LGBTQ regulars on broadcast as a whole.

--The CW is third with 4.3% of its series regulars counted as LGBTQ, and NBC follows at 3.9%. CBS comes in last at 2.2%.

--Gay men still make up the majority of 71 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters at 49% (35), an increase of two percentage points from last year.

--Lesbian representation decreased dramatically from the previous year, down to 17% (12) of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters. This is a drop of 16 percentage points from last year’s 33% (23 characters).

--Bisexual representation rose to 30%, up ten percentage points. That is 16 bisexual women and five bisexual men.

--There are three (4%) transgender characters expected on broadcast networks’ primetime scripted programming, two regular characters and one recurring character. Last year, there were no transgender regular or recurring characters on scripted broadcast programming.




Breakdown of LGBTQ characters in primetime programming on broadcast networks:








LGBTQ Cable Television


--The number of LGBTQ regular characters on scripted cable programs rose, with 92 this year from 84 the previous year. Recurring characters, however, decreased from 58 to 50. This brings the overall count to 142 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters expected, equal to the previous year’s total.

--Gay men still represent the majority of LGBTQ regular and recurring cable characters at 46% or 65 characters (up from 41% last year).

--Lesbians make up 20% (29) of the LGBTQ characters, which is a drop of two percentage points from the previous report.

--Bisexual women account for 25% (35) of LGBTQ characters on cable which is up two percentage points from last year, while bisexual men make up 7% (down from 13% in the previous report), or 10 characters.

--Six of the 142 characters (4%) are transgender, compared to just three characters last year. Among the 142 characters counted, ten are not expected to return due to series cancellations, format, or characters being written off but which appeared during the stated research period.



Breakdown of LGBTQ characters in primetime programming on cable networks:









LGBTQ Streaming Television


--Last year, for the first time, GLAAD made a count of the regular and recurring LGBTQ characters in scripted series on the streaming content providers Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix. GLAAD included both original series created by these companies, as well as foreign series they have acquired for exclusive U.S. distribution.

--GLAAD found 45 regular LGBTQ characters, an increase of two from last year’s count. There were an additional 20 recurring LGBTQ characters, up from 16. This totals to 65 regular and recurring LGBTQ characters.

--Lesbians account for the majority of LGBTQ representation in streaming series at 43% (28 characters), up seven percentage points from last year. This is a far higher percentage than is found on either broadcast or cable.

--Gay men make up 23% (15) of those 65 characters, down from 39% in the previous year.

--Bisexual women make up 20% (13) of LGBTQ representations with bisexual men at 6% (four). This is up from 15% and 5% respectively last year.

--Streaming original series again boast the highest percentage of transgender characters of all programming platforms tracked at 11% (seven characters). This is a four percentage point increase from last year.



--This list includes four characters who have been killed off their respective series, but were included within our research period. All four were lesbian or bisexual female characters (Poussey Washington in Orange Is the New Black, Bea Smith in Wentworth, Cara Thomas in Marcella, Camila Barrios in East Los High).

--The Amazon original dark comedy One Mississippi, inspired by series creator Tig Notaro’s life, premiered this fall to rave reviews. Amazon’s critically acclaimed comedy Transparent returned for a third season in September. The series, which tells the story of Maura who is transitioning later in life, includes seven LGBTQ regular or recurring characters and three of those characters are transgender (with two played by trans actors). This makes it the most trans-inclusive series on all three platforms (broadcast, cable, streaming) tracked. It is also notable that of the three streaming services tracked, Amazon is the most inclusive of LGBTQ characters with disabilities, as four of 14 (29 percent) LGBTQ characters counted have a disability. Other LGBTQ-inclusive Amazon originals include Mozart in the Jungle, Bosch, and Red Oaks.

--Netflix is the most LGBTQ-inclusive of the three streaming services counted with nearly 40 LGBTQ regular and recurring characters expected in the 2016-17 season.

-- The flagship hit Orange Is the New Black is the most inclusive of all series with 11 LGBTQ characters, though the most recent season did include the tragic death of series regular Poussey Washington.

--Other LGBTQ-inclusive Netflix programming includes The Fall, DreamWorks’ Dragons, The Get Down, Grace and Frankie, House of Cards, Master of None, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and others. GLAAD is also keeping an eye on the previously announced series Dear White People, based on the film of the same name, which centers on Lionel, a student who is gay and black and is struggling to find a place to fit in at his university.

--Some of Hulu’s LGBTQ-inclusive series include Difficult People, Casual, Dimension 404, East Los High, and The Mindy Project, which the platform picked up after cancellation by FOX. The service has also announced a series adaptation of the novel The Handmaid’s Tale, in which Samira Wiley will play a lesbian character.



Breakdown of LGBTQ characters on streaming content providers:








More Information


LGBTQ Books and Publications

LGBTQ Magazines and Periodicals

LGBTQ Movies and Film

LGBTQ Television and Media

LGBTQ Music, Musicians, and Songs

LGBTQ Arts and Entertainment









Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama