Sophia Bursett from 'Orange Is the New Black'
Sophia Bursett is essential to television and so is Laverne Cox, the actress who plays her. She demonstrates not only the struggles of transitioning, but also basic facts about transgendered people. She was a straight man and now she’s a lesbian woman. Her sexual orientation does not change despite the changes in her body. The popularity of her character has also opened up roles for transgendered women beyond prostitutes on crime shows.
Ray Holt from 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine'
Ray Holt is gay, black, and a police captain. However, only one of those defines his identity: the man is his job to the Nth degree. He is possibly the television character who strays furthest from his demographic stereotypes: Holt is uptight, overly serious, and incurably boring (to his peers, not the viewers). His racial and sexual identity are secondary to his career, but he acknowledges how difficult it can be to be LGBTQ and a person of color without having it define his character on the show.
FOX Broadcasting Co.
Patrick Murray from 'Looking'
Looking may be questionable in its entertainment value and portrayals of race. However, Patrick is unique to television. He’s under-sexed, romantically useless, and emotionally stunted. He’s gay, but just like every other flawed man or woman on TV. Jonathan Groff’s character steps outside typical gay stereotypes and sheds a light on the tragically dull and utterly awkward dating woes many gay men face on a daily basis.
Nolan Ross from 'Revenge'
Nolan is rich, successful, and refuses to let his sexual preferences be defined. He has relations with men and women alike. The lesson: people often fall on a spectrum. Forcing people to “define” their sexuality is a practice that encourages oppression and stereotypes. Having such a sexually fluid character on a major network show is very helpful in extending the message that it’s perfectly fine to be with whoever you want to. Ultimately, it’s nobody’s business.
Roscoe Kaan from 'House of Lies'
Roscoe experiments with gender and sexuality, often to the dismay of his type-A father. But he’s a kid and should be allowed to find out for himself who he is. His father’s ultimate acceptance shows America it’s possible, and preferable, to open your mind. Roscoe questions if he’s more of a boy or a girl. He likes boys and girls, and is dating a female-to-male transgendered boy named Lex. He shows America that gender and sexual attraction are two vastly different things and people can have questions about both.
Bo from 'Lost Girl'
Bo is a succubus. She needs sexual energy to feed and heal wounds. So why should she discriminate? Her love life is complicated. She’s in love with a Dr. Lauren Lewis, a human doctor, and a sexy werewolf named Dyson. Her frank portrayal of fluid sexuality and sex positive approach to life break through a lot of puritanical barriers. She’s a good person and defender of the weak. If she wants to get busy it’s her right.
Ian Gallagher from 'Shameless'
Ian Gallagher shows a distinctly different side of gay men than people expect: gay men with problems. Ian is in love with a guy consumed with internalized homophobia. He makes poor choices that any young man might face after being thrown out of his home, and shows that even rough-neck Chicago townies can be homosexual. By going against type, he breaks through a lot of pre-conceived notions about gay men.
Callie Torres from 'Grey’s Anatomy'
Callie is not only a positive portrayal of the LGBTQ community, her journey, and unique identity have actually helped to teach America about the community. She discovered her love of women late in life. She is attracted to men and women but has found one serious partner in her wife. Coming out is complicated and she faces infidelity in the same way that heterosexuals do.
ABC Television Network
Jude Jacobs from 'The Fosters'
Jude is a boy that likes to wear nail polish. He tried on his mother’s clothes and was beaten up by his foster dad. He has feelings for his new best friend, another boy. And all of that is okay. There is no rush to label him. Hayden Byerly’s frank yet innocent portrayal of a boy a little different is heartwarming. His growing up and finding his own identity is important for young people to see. It shows young people that they can be different and so can their friends and classmates. It’s one important step in ending discrimination.
Emily Fields from 'Pretty Little Liars'
Emily is such an important character. So often, lesbian characters get fetishized for male viewers. Emily is just a girl who likes girls. Initially she’s nervous about telling her friends and has trouble getting her parents to understand. Her coming out journey helps provide a voice for young girls on a show that girls actually watch. Shay Mitchell's earnest portrayal has helped pave the way for LGBTQ characters on ABC Family.
Unique Adams from 'Glee'
Glee has received well deserved accolades for its depiction of homosexual characters in the past, but recently, the series has degraded into a few too many stereotypes and sloppy storytelling. The one distinction is Unique. Unique is just that…unique. She prefers the pronoun she and likes to wear women’s clothes. It’s unclear as to whether Unique represents a drag persona or if she’s transgendered. But give her a break, she’s in high school. Either way, Unique can sing and her talent is most important.
FOX Broadcasting Co.
Chozen from 'Chozen'
Chozen takes Macklemore’s message to the extreme. He’s a gay rapper. He breaks all kinds of stereotypes with the perfect blend of humor and playful offensiveness. He may not be a role model but he’s exactly what you’d expect a gay gangsta rapper to be. His male sex partners bear a striking resemblance to "video hoes." He also plays against the gay stereotype by being chubby, gross, and offensive, taking down two preconceived notions at once.