The world is getting gayer, people.
Let’s admit it, 2017 has been a year of ups and downs and a lot of questionable people doing downright terrible things, but there’s at least a small silver lining. We’ve had some amazing strides in the LGBTQIA+ community in multiple fandoms throughout the entire year.
The world is changing (painstakingly slowly, but surely) and moving toward a time where being queer is no longer seen as being different. While we fight to be seen in the real world as normal human beings who express themselves and love others without judgement, we look to TV and movies to help shine a light on the normalcy that is the LGBTQIA+ community.
There have been a lot of fantastic queer moments in TV and movies this year, and here are some of our favorites.
Best LGBTQIA+ moments of 2017
‘Call Me by Your Name’ captures our hearts and gives peaches a whole new meaning
As I write this, Call Me by Your Name, the new film from director Luca Guadagnino that premiered at Sundance in January 2017, still has not received a wide theatrical release. If you’re lucky, you’ve seen it. If you haven’t seen it, you’re probably chomping at the bit. If you haven’t heard of it, buckle up.
Adapted from Andre Aciman’s novel, Call Me by Your Name follows a blossoming summer romance between Elio and Oliver — the former is a son of a professor, the latter a student of the very same professor. Set in rural northern Italy, the film is an extraordinarily dazzling and deeply romantic love story, the likes of which is rarely seen. Starring Timothee Chalamet in the best performance of the year alongside Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, and Esther Garrel, the film is executed to perfection, immediately securing its spot as one of the greatest love stories of all time.
That the central romance is between two men gives the film an added significance. What’s so remarkable about Call Me by Your Name is the way it allows its romance to unfold beyond the reaches of bigoted judgement and painful consequences. Their love flourishes with sumptuous beauty and unmatched romanticism. –Aaron Locke
‘American Gods’ humanizes the divine with its groundbreaking gay Muslim romance
Of all the Coming to America vignettes that veer away from the main story of Shadow Moon in Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods, one of the most striking is a short love scene set in New York City, between Salim, a young Muslim man from Oman who’s just immigrated as a sales rep for his family’s importing business, and another man, who appears at first to be another Arabic immigrant, a taxi driver — which is true, in a way — he’s one of the Old Gods, a Jinn from ancient Middle Eastern legend, relegated to a mundane survival, just like many of his fellow supernatural spirits, due to the lack of current believers.
The pair come to an unspoken understanding and have very intimate, very graphic sex, and in the book, that’s pretty much all we see — Salim wakes up alone, and is able to pursue a slightly better and more independent life thanks to the offerings the Jinn leaves behind.
In 2017’s TV adaptation for Starz, showrunners Bryan Fuller and Michael Green were dedicated to recreating even the most controversial scenes of American Gods — like the one where a love goddess consumes a man with her vagina — exactly as written, and the relationship between Salim and the Jinn is no different.
The sex is even more explicit than it appears on the page, both in the real world and transcending to the spiritual, and it’s a striking scene — it may be graphic, but it doesn’t feel gratuitous. Full frontal romantic lovemaking between men of color is rare on American television — between Muslim men it’s unheard of. Better still, the role of the couple is increased from the book, as Salim joins some of the lead characters on a cross-country quest to find his new love once again.
Omid Abtahi and Mousha Kraish have shown us everything they’ve got — literally — in a moment intended to create empathy, to humanize, and given the increasingly negative attitude toward Muslim immigrants in the U.S., exacerbated by the current administration, a gay Arabic love story in a show about discovering the heart and soul of America is somewhat of a gauntlet thrown down. –Natalie Fisher
‘Degrassi: Next Class’ brings gender fluidity to TV
The Degrassi franchise has always been an advocate for LGBTQIA+ youth and has shown their stories in ways that felt extremely real and honest. When season 4 premiered this July, they shared a story they hadn’t ever touched on before: Gender identity. In the season 4 episode “#FactsOnly,” the character Yael comes out as gender fluid and decides to start using they/them pronouns, starts wearing different clothes, which is truly an inspiration for other queer youth who watch the show struggling to come to terms with their own gender fluidity.
While telling this story, Degrassi showed the adults in Yael’s life — at least those at school, like their guidance counselor — supporting them and sharing resources with them. Yael’s friends support them too, with one even buying new clothes and helping with Yael’s hair in order to make them feel more comfortable in their body. This is a huge step in terms of LGBTQIA+ representation, not only giving queer youth someone to look up to in terms of being proud of who they are, but also for the friends and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community. Showing the audience how to support their queer friends with even the simplest things, like clothes or hair, can make a huge impact on how society can move forward as more people find the strength and courage to come out.
While not everyone reacts positively, Yael’s coming out journey helped show a story of acceptance. It is also a story that helps others understand what it means to be gender fluid, which is a concept that society is still learning to adapt to and accept. As a cisgender women, it expanded my worldview and helped me become more empathetic. That understanding is one of the most powerful effects a story can have. –Erica Ostergar
‘Supergirl,’ ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ bring LGBTQIA+ representation to a predominantly heterosexual DC lineup
Supergirl has never shied away from political issues, and it took a major step toward queer representation in its second season when it gave Alex Danvers, adoptive sister of the titular heroine, a beautiful coming out storyline. This storyline was notable for several reasons. For one thing, coming out storylines are usually reserved for teenagers; Alex is a grown woman with an established career. Her entire life had been dedicated to both her job and protecting her alien sister from prying eyes; she’d had little time to think about her own romantic inclinations, but with Kara’s steadfast support, she realized she’d been queer all along.
The storyline looked at Alex’s coming out through a mature, nuanced lens as she came to accept herself and share her realizations with her loved ones. She even found love with a cop named Maggie; and though their relationship eventually ended due to Maggie’s actress leaving the series, Supergirl never fell prey to tragic tropes. Instead, the two women recognized they wanted different things out of life and maturely decided to part ways. Considering the flak the superhero genre often receives for its lack of LGBTQIA+ representation, Alex’s story was not only powerful but necessary.
Legends of Tomorrow has never shied away from LGBTQIA+ representation; Sara Lance, one of its founding Legends — and the current captain of the time-traveling Waverider — was established as bisexual on Arrow as she had relationships with both Nyssa al Ghul and Oliver Queen. Legends of Tomorrow has not been afraid of letting Sara be a sexual being, and she is not shy about innuendos or stealing kisses.
But beyond Sara’s established bisexuality — and her one-night stand with Alex during the most recent crossover — the Arrowverse took another step toward representation during the “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover when it introduced the Arrowverse’s first openly gay hero in The Ray — who stars in his own animated series — and established his partner as the Earth-X doppelganger of fan favorite character Leonard Snart, aka Citizen Cold.
It’s incredibly powerful to see two openly gay actors — Russell Tovey (The Ray) and Wentworth Miller (Citizen Cold) — playing queer characters on mainstream television. Though The Ray returned to Earth-X at the end of the crossover, Citizen Cold is hanging around Legends of Tomorrow for a few episodes, so his queerness is not just a one-off to be forgotten. –Caitlin Kelly
‘The Shannara Chronicles’
Fantasy programming often makes a very specific choice to disregard the sexual proclivities of its characters. Within this style, writers tend to either stick to heterosexual norms or simply remove any sort of sexual desire to focus on other elements. But personally, I’ve never found that to be the most interesting choice to make. The creators of The Shannara Chronicles seem to agree.
For a moment in season 1, the show ran the risk of establishing a very typical girl/boy/girl love triangle. However, once we got the chance to learn more about the characters, it became very clear that something much more interesting was happening on screen. Our heroines might be as interested in each other as they were to the young man they traveled with.
Now, for dramatic spoiler reasons, we didn’t get to see a ton of concrete queer representation between the two main women, but in the second season of The Shannara Chronicles, the show decided to double down. This year they added a bisexual princess. That’s right, y’all. A princess who runs away to be with her bisexual girlfriend. We can’t give much more away because that’ll ruin some bigger surprises, but we can say that the show doesn’t shy away from painting theses two people as very much in love.
Again, fantasy shows are tricky because labels like lesbian, bisexual, or pansexual might not even exist within the realm of the universe that’s being created. So representation becomes more about showing than about telling. Which has been deftly executed in The Shannara Chronicles. –Brook Wentz
‘Jane the Virgin’ brings bisexuality to the forefront of TV
From the beginning, Jane the Virgin has always been about sexuality. The show depicts Jane’s relationship with her sexuality among the many other relationships she navigates. Though Jane is straight, the show has also had its share of LGBTQIA+ characters — we’ve seen Rose and Luisa’s love story play out over the last four seasons. This season, we were gifted with Adam, Jane’s new beau, who we later discover is bisexual.
Bisexual representation on TV has historically been very small. And male bisexual characters on TV? I can count on just one hand the amount of those characters I’ve seen. That’s part of why this reveal was so important this year. Through Jane the Virgin, we were able to witness a story that doesn’t often get told.
Adam’s story also shared a few other lessons. He taught us that coming out isn’t a onetime event, it is a process. Before Adam came out to Jane, he had already come out to many other people. He was publicly dating another man for a time. With Jane, it was another round of sharing that truth. While she was accepting, it wasn’t a seamless process. Jane had questions, doubts, and insecurities to work through and this story showed that’s okay, too. It’s okay to be curious as long as you are respectful, and it can be an opportunity to grow and learn together.-Erica Ostergar
‘Moonlight’ wins Best Picture and makes Oscars history
There is a photo from the 2017 Oscars of the audience looking up at the stage in shock and awe. You know the one. The Dolby Theater, full of the biggest names in Hollywood, looked like a renaissance painting. Why? Because Moonlight, a small indie film about a gay black man’s coming-of-age experience, beat out a movie everyone thought was guaranteed to win.
There is another photo, this one of Trevante Rhodes, one of the stars of the film. He is clutching his chest where his heart is, looking up at the stage in disbelief, with tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. This photo encapsulates the magic of Moonlight’s Oscar win. It was an unexpected, exciting, and triumphant victory. That a major awards body like the Academy gave the Best Picture statue to a film like Moonlight was a high point in a year too full of lows.
The significance of Moonlight’s win cannot be overstated. It broke important ground in its depiction of a black man coming of age and struggling with his sexuality — a subject rarely seen in mainstream storytelling. At a time when audiences are demanding greater representation, Moonlight rose to the challenge. It showed us how powerful and important it is to tell new and different stories.
Through a triptych of thoughtfully written and poignantly crafted vignettes, director Barry Jenkins captures the emotional journey of Chiron over the course of more than a decade. The film takes on topics of masculinity, sexuality, parenthood, poverty, and more with a lens that is both poetic and magical.
Moonlight’s Oscar win was a celebration of its achievements and gave it some well-deserved recognition. Let this be a message to movie studios and storytellers around the world that diversity matters and cannot be ignored. –Aaron Locke
‘The Bold Type’ gave us a spectacular interracial lesbian love story
Though Freeform’s fabulous summer show The Bold Type has so many amazing aspects and storylines going for it, the thing that put it on the map this summer was #Kadena. Kat Edison, one of the characters in the show’s main trio, spends the first few episodes of the series exploring her budding queer feelings.
She thought she was only attracted to men, but after meeting lesbian artist Adena El-Amin, she’s not sure anymore. After spending weeks dancing around each other and their feelings towards one another, Kat and Adena finally get together.
While other shows would have introduced an interracial queer couple as a sort of temporary gimmick, The Bold Type took its time to develop the #Kadena relationship, complications and all. In bringing these two together and allowing them to explore their feelings in an organic way, The Bold Type made a huge (and important) leap forward in representation on television, in no small part thanks to Adena’s religion and heritage.
It’s not only a big deal that The Bold Type puts its queer characters at the forefront, but it’s a major deal that they decided to include the queer Muslim, Middle-Eastern community. As an out and proud Muslim lesbian artist from Iran, Adena El-Amin herself is a guiding light for the queer Muslim community struggling to come out in a time where her people are still being persecuted, and even executed, simply for being gay.
With the #Kadena relationship, The Bold Type isn’t just giving us LGTBQIA+ representation, but also diversity that few shows have been able to match, and there’s no surprise that this entire relationship made it as one of the best LGBTQIA+ moments this year. –Danielle Zimmerman
‘Shadowhunters’ didn’t put the the queer couple in the backseat
Shadowhunters’s second season challenged quite a few relationships. Alec and Magnus’ budding romance experienced its fair share of those highs and lows. After coming together at the close of season 1, in the best wedding interruption scene of the last few years, Malec (as fans refer to the couple) stepped into the world hand-in-hand. But this is a world where Downworlders, like Magnus Bane, a warlock, and Alec Lightwood, a Shadowhunter, still face the long-held prejudices of their peers.
The couple split in the middle of the season, adding first breakup to a list of other firsts, including first date, first night together, first time they see each other near death, and their first reconciliation. It would be easy to say that Magnus and Alec finding their way back to one another is the best moment for these two in 2017, but it’s not the one moment that sticks out.
The entire depiction of their relationship deserves attention as part of the best LGBTQIA+ moments because it is never treated as a B-story. Malec receives the same time and attention as Clary and Jace, Simon and Maia, Izzy and Raphael, and any other relationship on the show.
In a world filled with queer characters on television being given the backseat in the story and rarely given equal time in the limelight with their heterosexual co-stars, it is that normalcy that makes the entire depiction of their relationship worth celebrating in 2017! –Brittany Lovely
‘Sense8’ brought the LGBTQIA+ community together all over the globe
There was an amazing queer proposal this season on Sense8 between Amanita and Nomi, and if I had to pick any one moment from the show this year, it would be that — seeing both women prepared with their own rings for their significant other was just beautiful and I would be amiss if I didn’t even mention it here.
But what’s more beautiful about this show is how it brings together the LGBTQIA+ community all over the world. When the show was cancelled, the fans didn’t just stand by and watch this amazing representation fade into the distance, they followed in Sense8‘s footsteps. They were loud, proud and full of unwavering hope that this show, which represents so many queer people around the world, got a real ending instead of the cliffhanger we were all given.
Sense8 fans have a lot to be proud of this year, and getting a finale in the works despite originally being cancelled by Netflix is a huge accomplishment for the LGBTQIA+ community. Why? Because of the messages this show brings to not only the LGBTQIA+ community but their allies as well.
Sense8 is loud, proud and full of queer characters, sexual fluidity and openness. We learned this last season when we got our first insane orgy scene, consisting of queer characters, yes, but also cisgendered heterosexual characters who were open and willing to connect with their cluster. These seemingly straight characters, like Will the cop, were completely fine with opening themselves up and exploring new experiences without judgement.
In my eyes, the famous Sense8 orgy scenes aren’t to just give audiences a good sex scene, but to show the connection that humans can have regardless of orientation or preference or judgement. You don’t have to be gay to connect with another male intimately and that doesn’t define who you are or who you want to be — it’s just an honest human experience and there’s no shame in that.
I know a lot of fragile straight men who shudder at the thought of just touching another man and being thought to be gay by someone else, and what I love about Sense8 is that it shows those fragile bros that you don’t have to be afraid of a little human connection. –Tariq Kyle
What are your favorite LGBTQIA+ moments from movies and TV this year?
With so many shows out there in the world, we can’t possible list them all, but if your fandom had an epic moment for the LGBTQIA+ community, sound off in the comments and let us know!