- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Flipboard
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Tumblr
LGBTQ representation in Hollywood is at an all-time high. Thanks to the showrunners driving authentic stories, filmmakers bucking decades-old heteronormative paradigms, actors emboldened to live more honestly and platforms bankrolling so much of it, being gay, queer, transgender or any other other has never been more widely embraced in the entertainment industry.
For its inaugural Pride issue, The Hollywood Reporter homed in on the talent and makers helping boost visibility and creating opportunities for members of the extended LGBTQ community. These 50-plus power players, from Laverne Cox to the cast of Queer Eye, each make a unique contribution — and share here where they first felt seen by Hollywood and what work still needs to be done to achieve equitable representation.
The comic vet (under a rich overall deal with Warner Bros. TV) punctuates his youth-skewing slate (The CW's Riverdale and Katy Keene and Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) with LGBTQ characters and storylines — including a transition arc on Sabrina, mirroring the life of genderqueer star Lachlan Watson.
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "A movie version of the musical Falsettos."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "My friend Tanya Saracho. She created the show Vida and is always fighting the good fight. And educating people. And challenging them. And advocating for underrepresented voices. She’s a superhero."
Having fought to put the first same-sex kiss between two men on network TV (Dawson's Creek), the megaproducer continues to represent the community in the many shows (he's juggling 19) he has across six platforms. His directorial work on Love, Simon marked the first major studio movie to center on a gay teen romance.
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "We have the kind of representation in big-budget studio films that we do on TV."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "I really believe Billy Eichner and his 'Glam Up the Midterms' made a real difference across the nation in the last election. I was so impressed with his tireless efforts, and we are going to need leaders like him to have success again in the fall."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "LGBTQ spy/action film."
Since taking the entertainment reins in 2016, Bloys has made it a mission to broaden inclusion efforts with YA hit Euphoria and period drama Gentleman Jack — both of which star queer characters. The out exec recently launched We're Here, a rare unscripted foray in which drag queens visit small towns.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "The 1992 TV movie Doing Time on Maple Drive."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "All members of the LGBTQ community feel represented. We are a wide and varied bunch."
The writer made history with Pose, which features the largest number of trans actors ever on scripted TV. His and Ryan Murphy's FX drama, renewed for a third season, is widely praised as the bellwether of boosted trans and person-of-color representation on and behind the camera.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Patrik-Ian Polk's Noah's Arc. I hadn't seen black and Latin queer men centered positively on TV until then."
MY MENTOR IS "Neil Landau (Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead), who has been a friend, a counselor and a lifeline since I wrote the first draft of Pose in his TV Drama Pilot workshop at UCLA."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "Every network has at least one series on air created by an LGBTQ person, centering an LGBTQ lead, played by LGBTQ talent."
The ambassador of drag just closed the 12th season of Drag Race on VH1, which has consistently topped Friday cable ratings and launched a host of drag careers. Sure, his foray into scripted TV, AJ and the Queen, fizzled after one season, but in a year that saw three iterations of Drag Race air, the multihyphenate — who has won Emmys four years running for best reality-series host — is clearly not "fucking it up."
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Bugs Bunny outsmart the status quo with a wink and a witty remark."
After more than a decade of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, where he became the first openly gay host in American late night, Bravo's exec turned talent tackles all kinds of media (SiriusXM show Radio Andy, multiple books), while uplifting and advocating for the LGBTQ community.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Norman on The Real World season one."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "As much representation as there is, there are very few big gay love stories. I’d love one."
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "I was riding down Fifth Avenue on the Bravo float at World Pride."
The groundbreaking performer followed her seven-season run on Orange Is the New Black (a role that earned her three Emmy nominations, a first for a trans performer) with appearances on Curb Your Enthusiasm and Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens. She'll next appear in Netflix's Inventing Anna and is an executive producer of the Sundance doc Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen, debuting June 19 on Netflix.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Candis Cayne in Dirty Sexy Money in 2007."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "Representations can facilitate changing the material conditions of LGBTQ folks on- and offscreen across the globe."
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "I got to stand beside Aimee Stephens on the steps of the Supreme Court of the United States last October."
On his Fox drama Empire, the creator infused broadcast TV with a rare portrayal of a queer African American man. On musical follow-up Star, Daniels cast the third openly transgender actor (Amiyah Scott) to play a major trans character in a U.S. TV drama. On the film front, the Precious director is completing his project about queer singer Billie Holiday.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Norman … Is That You? starring Pearl Bailey and Redd Foxx. It was a gay Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Way ahead of its time."
MY MENTOR IS "James Baldwin [drops mic]"
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Raymond St. Jacques. He was a talented black, gay working actor who was paving the way for us in the '80s in the streets in Hollywood. He was an activist for the people and was fighting for our rights at a time when it was dangerous until he sadly succumbed to AIDS in 1990. It breaks my heart that people don't know of him."
Russell T. Davies
From Queer as Folk in 1999 through acclaimed dramas Bob & Rose, A Very English Scandal and 2019's Years and Years, LGBTQ stories have played a prominent role in Davies' award-winning TV projects. He'll double down on queer storytelling with HBO Max's Boys, set to explore the HIV/AIDS crisis in the 1980s.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Billy Crystal in Soap. Suddenly, a clever, funny, kind, hot gay man on TV, that's still rare."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "We get great big hot superheroes, please. Not sweet representations. But great big horny bastards, male and female."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "All of them. Romeo choosing Mercutio. Juliet and the Nurse. West Side Story with the Jets and the Sharks at it like knives. Batman on Superman. Gay it all up! Everything!"
Since her landmark coming-out in 1997, DeGeneres has risen to the highest levels in Hollywood. She started her 2020 with the Golden Globes' Carol Burnett Lifetime Achievement Award — and her daytime talk show, credited with endearing much of America to LGBTQ persons, is in its 17th season. As a producer with scripted and unscripted efforts, she remains committed to giving voices to marginalized talent.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Billie Jean King and Martina Navratilova."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "You no longer have to ask that question and I no longer have to answer it. And when it's just a movie about a love story and not a gay love story."
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "I interviewed Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union on my show and they talked about their love for their daughter."
Putting his stamp on The Lion King — he played Timon to great acclaim in the billion-dollar-earning Disney reboot — the out-and-proud funnyman will next play Matt Drudge in American Crime Story: Impeachment while his upcoming Judd Apatow-produced feature at Universal is set to be the first gay rom-com from a major studio.
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "We see more confident, three-dimensional characters at the center of a story and not just snuck into an ensemble. We need characters who are less neurotic, less defined by victimhood and less apologetic."
I'VE FOUND COMMUNITY DURING QUARANTINE BY "Watching gay guys doing home workouts on Instagram. Always inspiring to see resistance bands being used in a studio apartment!"
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "Watching the success of Lil Nas X, which has been thrilling. And watching how Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union have showed the world how to love and celebrate a gender-nonconforming child. That's really what it's all about."
While her banner has been marred by financial woes, Ellison remains one of the most prominent producers of director-driven features. Notoriously press-shy, she is not an outspoken member of the LGBTQ community, but she has boosted films led by queer characters, including such recent features as Olivia Wilde's Booksmart and Miranda July's Kajillionaire, and hired other queer women among a diverse staff.
The WGA Award-winning creator of Netflix's Dead to Me has gone to great lengths to infuse an LGBTQ voice into her work. Creator of the NBC sitcom One Big Happy and her own YouTube talk show This Just Out, Feldman recently made her Netflix comedy outright queer, as Dead to Me's sophomore season revealed a lead character to be bisexual.
MY MENTOR IS "I might be the luckiest little lesbian in the world, because one of my mentors was Ellen DeGeneres. She was my idol when I was growing up, and I quite literally dreamt about working for her one day. That day came in 2005 when I was hired to write for her talk show. I was fortunate enough to work for her on and off for many years. She taught me so much, often just by example."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "I would tell you what LGBTQ story I’d love to see, but I plan to make it one day. Suffice it to say it’s an ensemble period piece and it’s set in another country, so you know … super cheap and easy to make. But give me time. All I need is a vaccine and like $40 million."
From Greta Gerwig's Lady Bird to Olivia Wilde's Booksmart, openly queer Feldstein has bucked convention as a staple of female-fronted, coming-of-age indies. Her next role may be the L.A. native's most high-profile. She'll star in the new installment of American Crime Story, playing Monica Lewinsky in the Clinton-impeachment-focused season.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl at 2 years old."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Everyone already knows her greatness, but I deeply admire [Pose's] Mj Rodriguez."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "Is one that explores and celebrates the 'late-bloomer.' I did not find my sexuality until I was in my mid-20s. There are so few stories that focus on those of us that came to that understanding post-adolescence."
The Australian delivered stand-up's ultimate mic drop with 2018 special Nanette. But instead of being the swan song she intended, one in which Gadsby disavowed self-deprecating humor, it made her a global comedy star. Netflix released her latest special, Douglas, on May 26, earning universal praise and solidifying her status as one of the biggest names in comedy — queer or otherwise.
After leading the charge to revive Roseanne — and then the charge to save and revamp it as The Conners — Gilbert continues to star in and exec produce the hit ABC sitcom, championing pro-LGBTQ storylines that include her character's son. Leaving behind CBS' The Talk, she recently launched production company Sara + Tom with Tom Werner to create new inclusive projects.
MY MENTOR IS "I don’t know that I have a specific mentor, but I am incredibly inspired by my kids’ generation because of their open-mindedness and acceptance."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Cyndi Lauper."
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "An openly gay man became a true contender as a presidential candidate."
Broadcast TV's first openly gay chief exec has used his new post atop WarnerMedia's direct-to-consumer business to shine a spotlight. For newly launched streamer HBO Max, Greenblatt is teaming with Greg Berlanti and Jim Parsons for the docuseries Equal, ball culture competition series Legendary and scripted dramedy Generation, a modern look at sexuality.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "The character of Steven Carrington on the original Dynasty. I'm dating myself, but I have to give credit to Aaron Spelling."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "There are more LGBTQ people in the executive suites because that’s where it starts."
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "I saw the first cut of my friend David France’s searing documentary, Welcome to Chechnya, which we acquired for HBO."
The Italian director has been making critically adored movies since the late '90s, but it was 2017's Call Me by Your Name that catapulted Guadagnino onto the world stage. While there are talks about a sequel that would reunite stars Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer, Guadagnino, who was recently tapped to helm Universal's Scarface remake, will next release HBO queer-friendly coming-of-age miniseries We Are Who We Are.
Jeremy O. Harris
During the 17-week Broadway run of his critical hit Slave Play, A-list audience members included Rihanna, but Harris spearheaded an effort to promote economic diversity in his audience — getting producers to price 10,000 tickets at $39. After co-writing A24 Sundance feature Zola and consulting on HBO's Euphoria, Harris signed a two-year first-look deal with the premium cable network, where he's setting up a drama pilot.
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "One that makes my blood boil with confusion and rage that I wasn't able to come up with it first, something completely unexpected and impolite."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "The 12-year-old black queer child in Texas who goes to school every day looking and speaking however the fuck they want — parents, teachers, friends or loneliness be damned. That's activism to me. There's blood on the line there."
Co-creating Netflix hit Russian Doll with Natasha Lyonne and Amy Poehler (which featured prominent LGBTQ characters), the celebrated director's next act looks to be a first for both women and LGBTQ creators. Disney+ tapped her to write and work as showrunner on a forthcoming Star Wars TV series.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Miss Congeniality! There is this small moment where Miss New York shouts out to all the lesbians and tells her girlfriend Tina she loves her. It’s played as a joke but it filled me with such immense joy and hope."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "Movies and shows stop queer-baiting and just start writing more queer characters and storylines."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "Babe Didrikson."
A crucial champion of LGBTQ stories and a key reason GLAAD lauded Netflix as the most inclusive platform in 2019, Holland began her tenure at the streamer by greenlighting the groundbreaking Orange Is the New Black — changing the way queer women were portrayed on TV. Holland provides a massive stage for LGBTQ voices with inclusive shows like Sex Education, Feel Good, Special and Cheer, and the streamer has signed creators such as Janet Mock to overall deals.
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "Hollywood is just one of many places with LGBTQ representation."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "Bound 2."
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "I rode in my 11th AidsLifecycle from S.F. to L.A. to benefit the Los Angeles LGBT Center."
Under her prolific banner, the producer has driven film and TV content that embraces a rich tapestry of characters — from FX's Emmy-winning Pose to Warner Bros.' $238.5 million-grossing Crazy Rich Asians. The former Universal and Disney exec has a knack for snaring hot literary properties, including Hunger Games, and is at work on FX's adaptation of queer-friendly comic Y: The Last Man.
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Although he has certainly been recognized for it, I don’t think you can overstate how much Ryan Murphy has done to create aspirational LGBTQ characters and to cast and hire LGBTQ people."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "Captain America and the Winter Soldier."
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "Seeing the cast of Pose thriving and enjoying the respect and admiration they deserve."
The actor turned director is a new voice in queer indie film, having broken out with God's Own Country, which earned the world cinema directing award at Sundance in 2017. Lee's sophomore film, period lesbian love story Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, is due out late 2020 from Neon.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "In 1987, I was about 18 and very much not out, living at home in Yorkshire before moving to London. My family were away on holiday, so I had the house to myself. On TV, Channel 4 had a season of late night queer programming and were screening Parting Glances. I stayed up until 12 a.m. to watch it. For the first time I saw representations of everyday queer lives in a way that felt like I might be able to lead a fulfilling life with the person I loved without hiding or being ashamed. I could have a job, friends, a life. It was revelatory."
MY MENTOR IS "I'm not sure I have a mentor, but Mike Leigh is a good friend and a constant source of inspiration."
Lee has cultivated one of the most inclusive schedules in all of TV, let alone basic cable. TLC standouts include transgender docuseries I Am Jazz and Lost in Transition, makeover show Dragnificent! and, for the first time, a same-sex couple on the popular 90 Day Fiancé franchise. Lee and the network are both involved in anti-bullying campaign "Give a Little."
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Flower Drum Song, a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical from 1961, on TV. Oh my God, it was the only time in my life I'd seen an all-Asian cast — happy, singing and dancing."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "A big-budget action film with two LGBTQ action leads."
Schitt's Creek paddled off into the sunset after six seasons, but not before it cemented its pop culture status late in its run with four 2019 Emmy nominations. Levy, who co-created the show with dad Eugene, earned legions of admirers in fans and critics alike for crafting a same-sex love story in a series that was free of homophobia.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "My So-Called Life. Watching Rickie Vasquez, a gay character played by an openly gay actor, Wilson Cruz, certainly felt like the most honest and respectful portrayal of a gay teen I had ever seen."
THE TOP OF MY QUARANTINE BINGE LIST "Feel Good. My good friend Ally Pankiw directed it. And my fellow Canadian Mae Martin wrote and stars in it. Lesbian female director directing a lesbian hero in a story is the perfect remedy to a down day in quarantine."
As McCarthy has added oversight of cable networks after a stint as president of MTV, he's expanded the conglomerate's inclusion efforts. The exec gave RuPaul's Drag Race a bigger platform, moving it from Logo to VH1, also leading the charge to shift MTV's Movie & TV Awards and VMAs to genderless categories and launching VH1 Trailblazer Honors — an event that recognizes LGBTQ leaders and allies.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Mario Cantone host a TV show in the '80s called Steampipe Alley on a New York City channel. The minute I saw it, I knew."
MY MENTOR IS "My former boss Stephen Friedman, who gave me my first shot as a freelancer at MTV — I’ve never worked so hard to get a job and never learned so much from one person."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "One of the unsung heroes of the civil rights movement, Bayard Rustin. Bayard fought alongside Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but was erased from much of history because he was gay. I’d love to see his Selma story be turned into a film."
During her Golden Globes tribute to Ellen DeGeneres, the Saturday Night Live MVP thanked the comic for blazing a trail for LGBTQ people on TV. With her joyful impersonations of DeGeneres, Elizabeth Warren and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and eccentric movie roles such as in 2019's Bombshell, McKinnon has only broadened that path.
The activist and best-selling author made history as part of the creative team of Pose, the series on which she cut her teeth as writer, producer and first-time director. Mock proved she was no one-hit wonder, signing an overall deal in TV and a first-look pact for films with Netflix — where she has since put her talents to work with mentor Ryan Murphy on his rewrite of industry history Hollywood and set out developing a slate of originals highlighting trans characters and people of color.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "My So-Called Life. My teen heroine Angela Chase and queer icon Rickie Vasquez will always have my angsty teen heart!"
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "[Activist] Sir Lady Java. Her self-advocacy in the 1960s, years before the Stonewall uprising, set a blueprint for us to fight for our right to show up in spaces unapologetic and proud."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "A queer black strip club drama."
Since coming out as queer in 2018, Monáe has released album Dirty Computer (a Grammy-nominated exploration of female sexuality), opened the 2020 Academy Awards telecast as a "black queer artist" and doubled down on her acting career. She stars in the second season of the Amazon thriller Homecoming and, on Aug. 21, in the horror feature Antebellum.
Few have done more for LGBTQ representation in Hollywood than Murphy. The prolific creator, who has two children with photographer husband David Miller, has devoted his career to telling the kinds of queer stories he never saw on TV growing up. From Glee to American Horror Story to Pose, Murphy has succeeded in building his own inclusive content universe — and he's continuing to add to it at Netflix, where he's dropped queer-centric shows like The Politician and Hollywood and has the upcoming movie The Boys in the Band.
A year after wrapping CBS' The Big Bang Theory, Parsons has leaned into telling LGBTQ stories. On camera, Parsons has appeared in The Boys in the Band and Hollywood. As a producer, his That's Wonderful banner — which he runs with husband Todd Spiewak — was behind the Emmy-winning Netflix shortform dramedy Special.
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "When 'gay actor,' 'gay director,' 'gay writer,' 'gay story,' et cetera, are no longer labels even worth mentioning."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Larry Kramer. He was the only honest-to-God activist with a capital A I have ever met. You could sense the fire and the mission within him. It was invigorating and a little frightening — well, frightening to this sweet, gay, Southern boy who shies away from confrontation."
Since receiving his 2017 Tony for Dear Evan Hansen, Platt has been on a meteoric rise. A starring role in The Politician brought him a Golden Globe nomination, and his debut album (Sing to Me Instead) inspired a Netflix concert special. In addition to speaking, and singing, publicly about his own gay relationships, Platt plays bi on The Politician — accounting for several of the series' many entangled LGBTQ romances.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Chris Colfer playing Kurt on Glee. I was in high school, which was an incredibly formative time to see myself reflected in media."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "There is a healthier variety of queer stories and characters whose queerness is not their defining factor. And when roles are cast across the board based solely on an actor’s ability and how right they are for any given role, regardless of their sexuality or the character’s sexuality."
The Pose star became the first openly gay black man to win the dramatic lead actor Emmy in 2019, the year he turned heads for debuting gender-neutral red carpet looks. With roles lined up in Greg Berlanti's Little Shop of Horrors film and as a genderless Fairy Godmother in the Cinderella remake, Porter next headlines New York City's televised Pride special on June 28.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Good Times and The Jeffersons. Not really LGBTQ-related, but most definitely my upwardly mobile black side felt very seen. Norman Lear truly pioneered the telling of our stories in the mainstream."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "The characters are three-dimensional human beings and not simply just clownin’ as the archetype, the magical queen sprinkling fairy dust all over the world."
The 'Queer Eye' Cast – Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness
At this point — seven Emmys (including two for outstanding structured reality program) and a fifth season that drops June 5 on Netflix — it no longer seems fair to refer to them strictly as "The Fab Five." Berk, Brown, France, Porowski and Van Ness have each developed his own side hustle while remaining committed to advancing causes of inclusivity, positivity and community in books and other TV projects.
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM
BERK "Taylor Swift. To watch some of our community come after her for speaking up in support of equal rights was very sad and frustrating to me."
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW
BROWN "Sean Sasser on The Real World: San Francisco. Sean was the openly gay African American husband of castmate Pedro Zamora."
POROWSKI "Brokeback Mountain."
VAN NESS "Rudy Galindo win the 1996 national figure skating championships in San Jose."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN
FRANCE "Nonwhite characters within TV and movies are shown to have real depth."
With a GLAAD Media Award for outstanding comedy series and a Rising Star nod from the Outfest Legacy Awards, Saracho has been praised for creating opportunities for Latinx and LGBTQ voices and for showcasing them on camera on the Starz series Vida.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "The coming-out arc of Dr. Callie Torres — played by the brilliant Sara Ramirez — on Grey's Anatomy."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN A queer, period, Mexican-American romance in 1800s San Francisco. You know, with corsets and carriages and all that wild west stuff. Wait. Why don't I write that?
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "I watched my friend Vero get her citizenship. Her wife, Jenn, and her met when she was undocumented and they've been through hell and back to get Vero's papers."
The model turned actress broke out in 2019 with her authentic trans portrayal on HBO's boundary-pushing teen drama Euphoria. But before she took on her first acting role, she made headlines as an activist. The North Carolina native was a plaintiff in the ACLU's lawsuit against the state's HB2 "bathroom bill," which sought to keep Schafer and her transgender peers from using the public restrooms of their gender identity.
The French writer-director found global visibility with her 2019 period lesbian romance, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which won best screenplay and the Queer Palm at Cannes. But Sciamma has been exploring queer identity in her work for years, notably in 2011's Tomboy. Behind the scenes, Sciamma is a staunch advocate for female directors and was a key organizer of the 2018 women's protest at Cannes.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "When Night Is Falling."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "It won't feel like saving lives."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "A Parisian lesbian nightclub in the '30s."
Netflix series Dear White People, an adaptation of his indie film of the same name, is set to graduate with a fourth and final season. The show will leave a legacy of authentic depictions of sexuality — including scenes involving gay character Lionel (DeRon Horton), modeled after Simien himself. The creator has expanded his workload (and profile) with podcast Don't @ Me and Hulu horror comedy film Bad Hair.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "My character Lionel in Dear White People. I literally couldn't find myself in the culture."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "A depiction of black gay men that is neither tragic nor idealized. The 'gay black spirit' drives so much popular culture, through slang, music, fashion, meme culture, dance and all manners of 'the arts.' Yet, it is still all too rare to find — or produce in Hollywood — stories where the humanity of gay black men is not in question, but is a given and is central to the story."
The first late night show hosted by a bisexual woman of color, albeit one that airs at 1:35 a.m., Singh's A Little Late pulls 670,000 nightly viewers and recently scored a second-season renewal. Singh, who was tapped to emcee the 2020 GLAAD Media Awards, remains a digital force with 15 million YouTube subscribers — many of whom, says the Canadian import, followed suit after she came out of the closet in 2019.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Truthfully, being someone who identifies as bisexual and is also of South Asian descent, I haven't really seen much on television that I feel represents me."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "As someone who came out later in life, I'd love to see a story about learning/living your truth as an adult."
The Emmy-winning patriarchy toppler finally got to close out the groundbreaking Transparent with a musical finale after losing its lead, Jeffrey Tambor, to a 2018 sexual harassment scandal. With that chapter behind them, Soloway landed a plum writing and directing assignment for Red Sonja, a fantasy property ripe for a postfeminist reinterpretation from the first major public figure to come out as nonbinary.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "As someone who identifies as nonbinary, I’m realizing I don’t think I ever felt represented as a kid — especially because I thought of myself as cis and female at the time. TV mostly made me feel like I wasn’t enough and reinforced a more awful, awkward prism of how women are valued for beauty over most anything else."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Alexandra Billings. I've been making art with her for decades, and she is always raising the voices of the people in the room around her through her art, teaching and advocacy."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "The journey of a nonbinary person realizing they feel most stable when their own gender is constantly moving. Folks who feel male and female and both and neither in a constantly swirling whirl need their heroes, too."
With lead roles in teen romance Everything, Everything and the socially minded YA adaptation The Hate U Give, Stenberg parlayed her prominence into activism via online platforms. Coming out as queer on Teen Vogue's Snapchat in 2016, the actor, who stars in Damien Chazelle's Netflix series The Eddy, uses social media to spotlight the POC LGBTQ community.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "The Watermelon Woman upon an intensive search for black dyke content. I'm definitely still on the hunt for representation."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Mandy Harris Williams (@idealblackfemale), who is constantly doing imperative work to counteract the anti-black status quo."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "Would feature gay women of color living and loving in a three-dimensional way, without the imposition of politics."
In her post-Twilight career, Stewart successfully splits her time between studio fare and festival selections. In 2019, the bisexual actor could be seen as French New Wave icon Jean Seberg in Venice premiere title Seberg, as a secret agent in Sony's Charlie's Angels reboot and on a particularly gay episode of SNL. Up next, Stewart stars alongside Mackenzie Davis in the same-sex rom-com Happiest Season from Clea DuVall.
The Australian comedian, writer and actor has garnered praise for his unabashed depictions of LGBTQ characters in his shows: breakout series Please Like Me and, most recently, Freeform comedy Everything's Gonna Be Okay. The creator has fought to authentically portray everything from messy coming out stories to anal sex.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "I didn’t realize at the time but probably the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It was a huge hit in Australia. Every morning when I put on my cologne, I’d ‘spray, delay and walk away.'"
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "I'm constantly torn between wanting us to be normal and mainstream and ingratiated into regular Hollywood and wanting us to burn the whole system down."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Queer boys who try and jam irrelevant statements about world issues into their Instagram captions under shirtless photos."
The queer Salvadoran comedian translated the handful of breakout Saturday Night Live scenes he wrote into multiple deals at HBO — where he debuted the comedy special My Favorite Shapes in 2019 and is readying season two of Los Espookys, the half-Spanish, half-English, entirely absurd comedy in which he stars as the gay heir to a chocolate fortune.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Pinocchio saying he wanted to be a 'real boy'! There's something about the journey of a non-human other that will always speak to me — first as a young queer, then as an immigrant."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN "Less weepy queers, more intrepid queers! Nothing wrong with being weepy, I'd just like to see a wider gamut."
I FELT MOST PROUD TO BE PART OF THE COMMUNITY LAST YEAR WHEN "I've seen queer people of all backgrounds rally to support the causes of other marginalized communities."
At her company, Killer Films, the veteran indie producer of movies like Carol and Boys Don't Cry has taken both pride in and heat for bringing to screen a broad range of LGBTQ characters. Vachon's upcoming projects see her reteaming with director Todd Haynes for a documentary on The Velvet Underground, producing a Netflix miniseries about fashion designer Halston (starring Ewan McGregor) and delivering on a just-inked first-look deal with MGM.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "There was so little for so long for queer gals! I saw West Side Story when I was about 10 — there is a character called Anybodys, who is a kind of desperate tomboy who isn’t really accepted by anyone. I think she shoved me right back into the closet. Thank God for Harriet the Spy!"
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "Killer Films has a history of pissing off the LGBTQ community by making content that doesn't always reinforce so-called 'positive images.' I'll feel good when we can see LGBTQ characters that are just as evil as their straight counterparts."
The 'Visible' Team - Wilson Cruz, Wanda Sykes, Ryan White
Apple TV+'s documentary miniseries — executive produced by Cruz, Sykes, ally Jessica Hargrave and White, who also directed all five episodes — explores the representation of LGBTQ persons on TV, both good and bad. Featuring interviews with Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris and Lena Waithe, Visible: Out on Television became one of the new streamer's breakout hits.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW
CRUZ "Myself on TV on My So-Called Life. Almost every day I receive a message from someone who wants to communicate to me how important Rickie Vasquez is to them."
WHITE "Danny Roberts on The Real World: New Orleans. He was a gay boy from Georgia just like me. I was a scared teenager, and it felt like watching someone that was a couple years ahead of me in the coming-out process."
LGBTQ STORY I'D LOVE TO SEE ONSCREEN
WHITE "Where is the Adam Rippon Lifetime biography?"
Lana Wachowski and Lilly Wachowski
Though they're not currently collaborating, the sisters remain a force in entertainment and for visibility. Lana is prepping a new installment of the Matrix franchise, a huge tentpole for a trans filmmaker, while Lilly has taken to advocacy on Twitter and in queer Showtime comedy Work in Progress (starring and co-created by Abby McEnany).
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW
LILLY "Trans people are inclined toward imaginary spaces. We have to literally invent our worlds down to the language to describe ourselves. So in the same way I had to forge my identity in the dogmatic binary world that was thrust on me, I had to cobble my representation together in a media mosaic. Because I was at a loss for how I could even begin to explain my own trans-ness, I think I gravitated toward imaginary spaces in narrative: genre fiction, science fiction and fantasy. Through a trans lens, I could find myself in monster movies like Creature From the Black Lagoon or King Kong. When you think of these movies through a heteronormative mindset, the 'love story' aspect to them is kind of preposterous and outlandish. But if you put on your 'trans-o-vision,' King Kong and Fay Wray are not two separate identities, but one. The monster, in this case, longs for an unachievable feminine ideal in a world that won’t just 'not allow' it, it will eradicate it. It’s why I always am down with the monster. 'Yeah! Fuck shit up!'"
After her 2017 Emmy win for writing a semi-autobiographical coming-out story on Master of None, the multihyphenate wasted no time in creating series (The Chi) and features (Queen & Slim) that highlight Black America and the LGBTQ community — all while mentoring new voices and achieving milestones. Her latest offering, BET newcomer Twenties (starring Jonica T. Gibbs), is TV's first series with a masculine-presenting queer woman of color at the top of the call sheet.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Celie in The Color Purple. Watching Whoopi Goldberg kiss Margaret Avery was a life-changing moment for me."
MY MENTOR IS "Gina Prince-Bythewood, Mara Brock Akil, Susan Fales-Hill, Ava DuVernay."
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Ericka Hart, M.Ed. Their Instagram handle is @ihartericka. Follow them!"
Wright is known around the halls of the streamer as "the Ryan Murphy whisperer," but running point on the showrunner's series is just one piece of his job. He's responsible for Netflix's substantial and still-growing collection of YA shows and has made a habit of shepherding projects — including Stranger Things, 13 Reasons Why, Special and Atypical — with inclusive casts and characters that explore themes of identity, self-discovery and representation.
I FIRST FELT REPRESENTED WHEN I SAW "Ryan Phillippe playing a gay teen on One Life to Live in 1992. I was a closeted teen living in small town on Vancouver Island. Being out (and proud) wasn’t even a thought in my head, but this storyline made me feel less alone"
THE PERSON I THINK DOESN'T GET ENOUGH CREDIT FOR THEIR ACTIVISM "Something that gets lost sometimes is that activism can take many forms. I’m always blown away by stories like the one in our recent documentary A Secret Love, a story about two women living out their lives with dignity and honesty."
After 45 seasons, it's hard to believe there are any firsts left for Saturday Night Live — but Yang arrived at 30 Rock in 2019 as the cast's first Chinese American castmember and only its third openly gay male. He's already made his mark on the show playing Kim Jong Un, Andrew Yang and Chinese economic official Chen "Trade Daddy" Biao. But it was a risque scene featuring Harry Styles as a horny Sara Lee social media manager — co-written by SNL alum Julio Torres — that made the biggest splash.
MY MENTOR IS "James Anderson, who held down the fort at SNL by writing so many queer sketches over the years that shaped my sensibility. He’s gone out of his way to be a good friend, and the same goes for B.D. Wong after I worked with him. It’s all crazy wish fulfillment."
I'LL FEEL GOOD ABOUT HOLLYWOOD'S LGBTQ REPRESENTATION WHEN "Cherry Jones hosts a prank show."
In creating the 2020 list of entertainment's most powerful LGBTQ players, THR focused on the talent (behind and in front of the camera) and decision makers pushing for the most opportunities for work and visibility in film and television — while driving conversations about inclusivity with the rest of Hollywood and beyond. • Entries written by Seth Abramovitch, Kirsten Chuba, Mia Galuppo, Chris Gardner, Lesley Goldberg, Natalie Jarvey, Rebecca Keegan, Michael O'Connell, Alex Ritman and Bryn Elise Sandberg.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 3 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day
More from The Hollywood Reporter
Arnold Schwarzenegger on Bruce Willis’ Retirement: Action Stars “Never Really Retire…They Reload”
The Little Mermaid
China Box Office: ‘Fast X’ Roars Past $100M, ‘The Little Mermaid’ Struggles to Stay Afloat
The Little Mermaid
‘The Wiz’ Star Stephanie Mills Relates Her Own Experience to Racist Backlash Toward ‘Little Mermaid”s Halle Bailey
Robert Downey Jr.
Jon Favreau Says Robert Downey Jr. Was in Talks for Another Marvel Character Before Becoming Iron Man