Queer Black people deserve representation too! And thankfully, the characters listed below have delivered it. While there is still not yet an equal about of QPOC characters on television or streaming services, some of the ones that do pop up have been complicated, compelling, and completely engaging characters to watch. So from the early 2000s to today, here is a list of some pretty stellar Queer Black characters that amazed and entertained tv audiences.
Calvin Owens – Greek
Back when Greek first premiered on ABC Family, which later changed to the Freeform channel, Calvin Owens was a rarity for tv. An openly gay black man pledging a preppy fraternity? You don’t see that too often, even today. Thankfully, Owens continued to be unique and incredibly “average/every day” in the many storylines he tackled.
Maya – Pretty Little Liars
Another great character that introduced LGBTQ existence to teenagers in the mid-2000s was Pretty Little Liars’ Maya. While originally dating one of the main characters, Maya got to eventually branch off and tackle both her struggles with her sexuality and issues outside of that. Thus, making her a more fleshed-out character than the friend/lover that she originated as.
Lafayette Reynolds & Tara Thornton – True Blood
One of the most iconic scenes from HBO’s True Blood was of Lafayette Reynolds teaching some homophobic restaurant-goers what’s what. That boss energy continued on with the character throughout the show, including when he became magical. It was even better when his cousin, Tara, ended up exploring her own sexuality later on in the series.
The Whole Cast – Noah’s Arc
But if you wanna talk about making tv history, you have to recognize the work Noah’s Arc did for the rest of tv. While White gays had Will & Grace or Queer as Folk and lesbians had The L Word, Black gay men had Noah’s Arc. This series was, unfortunately, short-lived, but it spotlighted a need to tell Queer Black stories. It was the only tv show to focus on Black gay men at the time and really is the only show ever do it since. While we’ve had shows include Queer Black characters later on and Pose (included in the list below) has shone a light on QPOC stories, it was Noah’s Arc that started us down that path.
Sophia Burset And Company – Orange Is The New Black
Of course, we have to acknowledge some of the streaming services’ most notable QPOC characters. That includes the many LGBTQ characters in Orange is the New Black. These roles not only created representation, but they jumpstarted the careers of actresses Laverne Cox and Samira Wiley. And for that, we’ll be eternally grateful.
Amanita Caplan – Sense8
What can we truly say about one of the best QPOC characters to grace our screens in the past few years? Amanita is brave, loving, and loyal. She stuck by her girlfriend Nomi during life-threatening danger and in spite of the two being, technically, different species. We should all be so lucky to find an Amanita in our lives.
Annalise Keating – How To Get Away With Murder
As much as Amanita is perfection, Annalise Keating is a total mess. From the start of the show to its end, Viola Davis acted her heart out playing this complicated lawyer and college professor. And then she was revealed to be bi too?! What’s not to love?
Titus Andromedon – Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
But once we get over the drama, we gotta enjoy a little humor. Thankfully, Titus is here for us. What was great about Titus Burgess’s performance is that despite playing a hilarious character in an absurd comedy series, he was never the butt of the joke. Instead, Titus worked on the show with a confidence and charm that sometimes made it seem like he was the lead all along.
Lionel Higgens – Dear White People
Speaking of characters taking the lead, Dear White People’s Lionel Higgens is a great example of this. From shy/awkward student journalist to sexually-free fiction writer, Lionel evolves and grows as the Netflix shows’ three seasons have continued. Despite the show being an ensemble piece, he is one of the clear flagship characters and continues to represent many different subgroups.
Garnet – Steven Universe
But what about something with a kid-theme or from cartoon spaces? Where is representation there? Well, there’s Garnet in Steven Universe. Identifying with she/her pronouns, though technically not having a gender or race, this celestial being gives the story a much-needed touch of gay love as well as Black fem power.
Eric Effiong – Sex Education
What can we say about Eric? He’s funny, he’s a great friend, and he’s now BAFTA nominated. That’s it. That’s the post. Eric Effiong is love. Eric Effiong is life.
The Entire Cast – Pose
Lastly, it would be wrong of us not to acknowledge the wonders that the WHOLE cast of FX’s Pose has done for Queer Black people and television as a whole. The show has spotlighted Queer black voices/faces and Queer Black spaces. The ballroom scene has become public knowledge and this show has opened up a realm of possibilities for the many people who live, breathe, and dance Ballroom bliss. And for that, we as audience members will be forever grateful.