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With Three LGBTQ Characters And Counting, Here's Why "Dear White People" Is All-Inclusive

I just finished watching season two of Dear White People, and I’ve got to say that it was pretty great.

Dear White People is a Netflix original series based off of a film by the same title. The first season follows a fictional Ivy League school that’s struggling with racial tensions after white students are discovered having a black face party (circumstances that are based off of a real life event).

The series specifically follows multiple residents of the campus’s historically black dorm as each undergoes different traumas, battles, and trials due to the ever increasing conflict.

This series greatly voices the varying thoughts and perspectives of black youth. With that, there are also LGBTQ people of color at the center of the story.

In season 1, we are introduced to two gay characters who develop and grow in these first two seasons. Then, we later learn that a third character, who’d been there all along, is gay too.

To celebrate the release of Dear White People season two, let’s talk about why the three LGBTQ characters are just so great.

WARNING: MAJOR AND MINOR SPOILERS for both seasons below. If you’d rather read a non-spoiler review/recomendation of the show’s first two seasons, you can click here.


Lionel Higgins

Though each episode of this series focuses on a different character, there are two characters who fit the title of series protagonist. One is the outspoken radio show host Sam White, and the other is the aspiring journalist Lionel.

Lionel is the perfect protagonist for this show. He starts off as a meek boy who’s curiosity and professionalism outweighs his insecurity. Due to his nerdy yet go-getter charm (and his lucky dorm assignment with campus alpha Troy Fairbanks), Lionel quickly finds himself within a seat amongst the campus’s most established black students.

Of course, that doesn’t make Lionel a Garry Stu (male version of a Mary Sue). Lionel’s character is very active within both seasons. Most of the main story’s plot points and shifts come from his investigations. This ultimately makes him a vital role in the story.

But his innocence and quirkiness is only enhanced by the fact that he’s just coming to terms with his sexuality. In season 1, we see Lionel struggling with coming out and accepting that he’s attracted to men. He goes through the typical lusting over his straight roommate/friend, and deals with his growing feelings.

Once he’s come to terms with said feelings, he then explores them and gay society. After he’s realized that witty gay writers and empowered gay musicians aren’t his people, he eventually settles on a romance with a student named Wesley.

That said, it seems Lionel has only dipped a toe into the waters of gay life and romance, and we look forward to seeing him explore it further in a third season (if one’s greenlit).

Silvio Romo

Whereas Lionel is the innocent lamb just discovering his sexuality, Silvio is the confident gay man who’s already found his place in life.

At the start of season 1, we are introduced to Lionel’s newspaper editor, mentor, and friend Silvio Romo. In the very beginning Silvio describes himself as a “Mexican-Italian gay verse-top otter pup,” and we gained a sense of who he was a person. Silvio is witty, self-assured, hard-working, and playful. His character helped to be both a tool for Lionel’s growth and a person all in his own.

That said, season two sees a shift in the character. While fans of Silvio felt hurt by the reveal that he was in fact an alt-right sympathizer, it also made his character more dynamic and engaging. Plus, the plot twist shared a truth that most LGBTQ people like to ignore. Not all queer people are the same.

Silvio being a twitter troll who smiles at someone one second and then tweets racial slurs the next proved the point that gay men can be bigots too.

Kelsey Philips

Lastly, we have Kelsey.

Kelsey started off in the show as purely comedic relief. She’s the black girl who mostly hangs out with white people. She’s the girl who wants everyone to play nice and to snuggle up with her emotional support dog. In fact, that’s all she is down to the hilarious last second of season one when she’s shocked to find that said dog has been dognapped.

That said, season two sees Kelsey get a little more fleshed out. Sadly, she doesn’t get a major role to play in the story’s overarching plot, but her friendship with roommate Coco gets spotlighted.

During that time, we also got to know her more and appreciate her outside of her typical funny moments. Kelsey becomes this caring friend who supports Coco when she’s going through a pregnancy scare and the ultimate decision to abort.

Not only that, but she also reveals more about her personal background such as her Trini heritage and the joyous reveal that she’s a lesbian.

While Kelsey will probably remain the comedic relief in future installments, it looks like the story may give her some serious stuff to work with as well. And, we couldn’t be happier to see it.

Dear White People is a sensational show that expresses the black perspective and the many different lives that black youth can live. These different character paths and backstories open the way for representation for viewers of color.

On top of that, the show makes the conscious choice of incorporating LGBTQ characters at the center and outskirts of the story. In doing so, it proves that Black Queer voices can be found anywhere and everywhere. Thank you to the cast and crew of Dear White People for doing that.


This was created by one of our Contributing Writers and does not reflect the opinion of Instinct Magazine or the other Contributing Writers when it comes to this subject.