What do the letters LGBTQI mean? Learn by watching queer TV
While being uneducated is no excuse for intentionally being a homophobe, we know that sometimes people are in situations where they have no resources for being a better LGBTQ+ ally. Whether you’re in a country where homosexuality is still criminalized, or live in a uber religious household, you want to do better by your LGBTQ+ friends. Or maybe you’re questioning yourself, and need help finding your label.
The extensive amount of LGBTQ+ content has made it super easy for those wanting to be educated to help find the right materials to learn. Of course, not every version of each sexuality and gender is correct, and some are more harmful than helpful (looking at you Big Mouth), but it’s a step in the right direction either way.
So if you’re looking to learn, TV is surprisingly one of the better places to learn. But we’re here to help point you in the right direction, so you can learn what good representation looks like across several sexual, gender, and romantic identities. Keep in mind, there are a lot of subcategories for each sexual, romantic, and gender identity as well, so this isn’t every single one.
Lesbian: Poussey Washington (Samira Wiley) on Orange is the New Black
So really, nearly any character on this show could go in this slot as the majority of the characters are lesbians. But we’re shining a light on our dear Poussey because Samira Wiley deserved better than getting killed off in an act of prisoner abuse. Plus, her relationship with Soso arguably was the healthiest one on the show until her untimely demise.
Gay: Alec Lightwood (Matthew Daddario) and Magnus Bane (Harry Shum Jr) on Shadowhunters
We gotta do it for the Shadowfam. #MalecForever
Bisexual: Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) on Brooklyn Nine Nine
Badass before she came out, and badass after, Rosa shows that your sexuality doesn’t have to define who you are if you don’t want it too. The squad supports her, especially Holt, after she comes out, but nothing changes between all of them after.
She has a history with men and women, and continues to do so. Being bisexual doesn’t mean you have to be with one or the other all the time, and you don’t stop being bisexual if you marry one gender over the other.
Transgender: Angel Evangelista (Indya Moore) on Pose
While being transgenered just means you don’t identify with your birth sex, there’s several other versions of gender identity that fit under this umbrella term. Angel is a trans woman, whose gender identity is strictly female. Best part, she’s actually played by a trans actress, Indya Moore!
Queer: Anyone on this list
Depending on who you talk to, Q can mean one of two things: queer, which is an umbrella term for anyone who identifies as LGBT, or questioning, which is someone who knows they’re not straight but doesn’t know exactly what they are. Queer is also often used by people who are not straight, but don’t want to choose an identity. Queer has been used as an insult in the past, but the community is reclaiming it as their own.
Intersex: Lauren Cooper (Bailey De Young) on Faking It
Intersex isn’t so much an identity as it is a third birth sex. If someone is intersex, it’s someone who was born outside of the gender binary based on their chromosomes, genitals, or other organs. So in Lauren’s case, she has male chromosomes yet her genitals identify her as female. Also worth noting that Faking It also featured Amanda Saenz as Raven, so it was the first TV show to feature an intersex person playing an intersex person.
Now below this point are some other sexualities that are sometimes included in the acronym but not always, or are commonly discussed without being in the acronym.
Pansexual: Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) on Doctor Who and Torchwood
Thanks to a certain animated Netflix series, the incorrect definition of pansexual started going around on Twitter that implied that identifying as bisexual is transphobic. A pansexual is attracted to all genders (and species in Jack’s case), but that doesn’t mean bisexuals aren’t either.
As time progressed, pansexual just made more sense than bisexual, but don’t assume that because someone’s bisexual they wouldn’t date a trans person. Jack isn’t even openly pansexual, but it’s clear he is based on his choice in partners. And by choice, we mean everyone in existence. The man gets around, what can we say?
Asexual: Todd Chavez (Aaron Paul) on Bojack Horseman
Bojack has broken a lot of barriers over its time on Netflix, but the biggest barrier it broke was the stigma around asexuality. Todd has a crisis in season four when he realizes he has no interest in sex, and his friend Emily calls him asexual.
It takes time for him to get to know the term, but through her help, he becomes comfortable enough to come out. A big thing to note is being asexual, and why we separated romantic and sexual identity, is because asexuals can still have romantic feelings. Todd continues to date throughout the series after coming out, because he still has romantic feelings for his girlfriends.
Non-Binary: Syd (Sheridan Pierce) on One Day at a Time
You couldn’t have asked for a better representation of non-binary people than with Syd. Syd is a teenager who feels they don’t fit in with traditional gender, so they identify outside of it. Sometimes Syd looks more masculine, and sometimes they look more feminine.
But no matter how they dress or act, they’re always non-binary. Plus, it’s healthy to see how not only Elena stands up for them, but how Elena’s family consistently tries to make them feel welcome and respect their pronoun choice.