Sexualized Saturdays: The Importance Of LGBTQ+ Heroes

Representation matters, and everyone wants to be a hero. Unfortunately, what we LGBTQ+ folks get more often are queer villains, queer-coded villains, or anti-heroes. At least, they’re the most famous ones: pretty much every Disney villain ever, Loki, Constantine. The predominance of these types of characters and the lack of LGBTQ+ “good guy” superheroes creates the image of queerness as being tied to wickedness, threat to society, and general “otherness”. This influences both the way the general society sees LGBTQ+ people and how LGBTQ+ folks see ourselves, especially young people struggling with their identities. It creates a certain narrative for us, implying that we can only fit a certain type of mold and that it always sets us apart and makes us a threat. And that sucks.


I love a rugged jerk with a heart of gold as much as anyone, but Constantine’s morals and ethics leave something to be desired.

However, I’m not saying all queer characters need to be “good guys”. It’s just that a balance is needed to avoid forcing the idea that queer equals bad. Therefore it’s important to have more LGBTQ+ heroes and “good guys” who are people others follow and look up to (I’m not saying bisexual Steve Rogers, but I’m totally thinking bisexual Steve Rogers). We need to see that we can be great heroes and that we can have all kinds of different stories be about us.

Things are slowly getting better, even though you still have to put in some effort to find LGBTQ+ representation among superheroes and in science fiction, especially if you want to find a story where the queer hero is the protagonist. You pretty much can’t find them on major TV networks or in summer superhero blockbusters. And that’s a shame, because many people don’t have the resources necessary to find these shows, books, and movies, unless they’re made readily available. Sometimes, people don’t even know that LGBTQ+ representation is what they need because they don’t know the words bisexual, genderqueer, asexual or that they could apply to them. That’s why it’s important not only to have representation but to have popular LGBTQ+ characters, so that everyone can see them.

That being said, I’d like to talk about the LGBTQ+ heroes (in the broadest sense of the word) that we do have and why they’re important.


I haven’t read this series but it makes me so happy knowing that this image is out there.

I’m not much of a comic book person, so, unfortunately, I can’t talk much about such superheroes as Prodigy/David Alleyne or Ms. America/America Chavez. But even so, the fact that the former actually uses the word “bi” to describe himself means so much because writers so often avoid bi characters actually claiming the label.

The two TV shows that have been the most important to me recently in terms of LGBTQ+ representation are In the Flesh and Legend Of Korra. They both stand out because their main characters are complex characters you relate to and root for and because they’re queer, but the stories don’t focus on their sexuality. The shows and the characters are very different, but both Kieren Walker in In the Flesh and Korra in Legend of Korra are heroic characters. They are people who fight for what is right and for the people they care about. Kieren and Korra’s stories are not tragic queer stories or coming out stories. They’re people who grow, change, learn, and struggle with mental illness. Just like so many people do, and especially a lot of LGBTQ+ folks.

Even though not everyone has access to it, the internet makes it easier for people to create things and for those creations to reach a wider audience, and it’s also where a lot of minorities can find representation that’s lacking in mainstream media. Two of my favorite things on the internet are podcasts—Welcome To Night Vale and Valentin & The Widow. Cecil and Carlos of Night Vale are probably not the characters that come to mind when talking about heroes—they’re just regular people living their lives in a very, very strange world. Nevertheless, they participate in fighting evil corporations and traveling in parallel worlds and all through that they remain good people who are so adorably in love with each other. Valentin, on the other hand, is a gay man who struggles with his sexuality and because of his sexuality. He’s a good kind person who helps Eleanora Rosewood basically save the world. His narrative is quite tragic so far, but the story isn’t over yet.


Among all the scary mysteries, Reese finds herself falling in love with a girl, and it’s wonderful. Fanart by discordanddarkness

Finally, I want to mention a book I just read—Adaptation by Malinda Lo. In addition to being a thrilling story, it’s got Reese, a teenage girl who realizes she’s attracted to people of more than one gender, and it causes some turmoil, but it’s not a life-shattering realization. And she also gets superpowers. It’s difficult to describe how amazing it is to read a story where you can see yourself at the central character, instead of being the support who often dies sometimes even before you even find out that they’re queer.

LGBTQ+ heroes (the ones mentioned above and others) are not always easy to find, but they’re important. They give people hope, someone to look up to and aspire towards. They help contradict the “queer equals bad” ideas promoted via queer villain and anti-hero archetypes.

What about you? Who are your favorite/most important LGBTQ+ heroes? Let us know in the comments below!

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14 thoughts on “Sexualized Saturdays: The Importance Of LGBTQ+ Heroes

  1. No one wants 2 dimensional villains, besides the rare exception like The Joker we prefer villains that have some level of sympathy. I think we need to start having the Gay/Bi villains queerness be part of the source of their sympathy rather then just a demonstration of their depravity like most old works. Like Kunzite and Zoisite.

    It looks like you wrote this p before the brand new Catwoman announcement was known.

    As an aspiring writer myself, I tend toward (Unless I’m writing an established Character) writing all my characters as Bi, or maybe Pansexual would actually be more accurate. My own orientation definitely leans towards being a 0 or 1 on the Kinsey scale, but as a writer I don’t like putting my characters in Boxes.

    Sometimes even if it is an established character I may change their established Sexuality. Josephine Balsamo definitely becomes Bi in my plans for her, though I’m not to first to write that way. Also the Supergirl fanfic that exist in my head, she’s very Sapphic.

    Getting back to the main topic here. One of my main ambitions is write a saga of a Lesbian Fundamentalist Demon hunting Christian. I intend to shake everyone’s expectations to their core.

  2. What makes a character a “hero” or not? I feel like Kurt on Glee is one of THE leads, with just as much focus on him as Rachel, at least at this point. And he’s actually gay, from day 1, on the show. And for now, Glee’s on one of the “main networks” too. When Glee goes off the air in less than a month, we will have lost an important sliver of representation, and we need more shows to replace it. “Hero”, probably not, but he certainly wasn’t a bad guy on the show.

    In terms of actual “heroic leads”…

    Well, there is now Clarke Griffin on The 100, a sci-fi show I recently got hooked on, who in the most recent episode went from someone we could assume was straight, to basically having her bisexuality confirmed, although not in so many words. See the most important section of the actual script from the most recent episode: the script makes it clearer than the actual show did that Clarke is bi, but the show made it pretty clear too.

    And Clarke is THE main character of this show. She is the leader, she is in charge, and she is literally fighting a post-apocalyptic war on Earth against people who want to kill her friends. People are saying this show rocks for representation, including having “a queer protagonist”, now:

    People are loving that this is a thing, and we are excited to see where The 100 takes it.

    So right now, it’s all very fresh, but Clarke is my new favorite “Queer hero”. HOWEVER… that show kind of sucks for queer representation, because Lexa’s queerness is implied relatively late in season 2, and that is the first hint that in this future, NOT 100% of everybody is straight.

    In my opinion, the best TV shows for queer representation are shows that create a world way an LGBTQ+ character exists within the first 4 or so episodes. And let’s be honest, I don’t mean the Q+ – we can be lucky to get maybe a trans character sometimes, but really it’s only gay, straight, and bi that we usually get as main characters. Genderqueer? Asexual? Stuff like that… No, never.

    I love Saving Hope, the Canadian medical drama, for its amazing queer representation at this point, even if unfortunately the absolute main leads – Alex Reid and Charlie Harris – are straight/cis/white. 😛 They have a gay POC with Asperger’s Syndrome who’s an amazing neurosurgeon and amazing friend and main character from the start.

    And they had, this season, a wonderful twist on the typical Conservative Christian narrative when it comes to homosexuality being a sin, where instead another highly likeable and competent doctor is a lesbian struggling in the closet in an Orthodox Jewish community.

    It’s still just the LG part of LGBTQ+, but at least the fight against heteronormativity is there, throughout the entire series, you know? The reminders that not everyone is straight. And that gay people can be great people you’d trust with your life.

    • Pretty Little Liars is definitely the best at Queer representation. I”m really bummed it doesn’t get any credit on this website. Emily is one of the main 4 and she’s had the most diverse love life of the 4 so far.

    • A great LGBT “hero” type character on an ABC Family show might be Stef Foster on The Fosters, lesbian cop mom. Her police officer status combined with being a mother who takes in foster children and adopts them helps make her a clear “hero” type character, right? 😛

      ABC Family shows are not the “quality” of non-melodrama things this blog generally seems invested in, they have their flaws, but yes you’d think this blog should invest some time in some of the dramas on that Network, since the network is so great at having tons of female leads and more female characters than male ones and having LGBT representation in maybe all? of their shows.

        • Re Pretty Little Liars: I don’t believe this blog has ever written about this show (at least nothing comes up when searching for it). Along with Glee and The Fosters, PLL is not the kind of thing we cover here, so that’s why I didn’t mention them in the post (also, a blog post can only be so long – can’t mention every character in one post). But these shows do have some good LGBTQ+ representation, and yes, these characters are very often heroic in a ‘real world’ kind of sense. (On a side note, I love The Fosters!)

    • Oh, yes, awesome news about Clarke! I don’t watch The 100 (that’s why I didn’t mention her in the post), but I’m very excited to hear that she’s bi and that the show’s creators seem to confirm that on social media, actually using the word bisexual. I want to watch it now, tho 😀

      And yeah, I totally agree about the lack of representation of folks other than LGB, and even these groups are SORELY underrepresented, even if they do get more representation than other parts of LGBTQ+ community.

  3. Captain Jack Harkness from Doctor Who and Torchwood is my favorite. Plus I love Kyle from Alex Woolfson’s “The Young Protectors” webcomic.

  4. What do we think of the fact that some openly gay actors play our favorite straight leads in things? Does that help other gay people in a small way? Hurt because it’s erasing their sexual orientation and the character never could be allowed to be played as gay?

    I’m thinking of characters like Neal Caffery on White Collar, or even men who were closeted until after their shows’ runs like Kyle on Kyle XY or Michael on Prison Break…

    And straight people get cast to play LGB characters all the time as well… or cis gay folks to play trans characters…

    • That’s an interesting question. I think, it helps when actors and other famous people come out publicly because they, as real people, are representing LGBTQ+ folks in media too, because media talks about them. So, like, if they play straight characters, the characters aren’t really representing LGBTQ+, but when these actors go to events and speak in public and talk about their lives and being LGBT, THAT’s representation, and it’s important.

  5. Bo Dennis in “Lost Girl” is the only pansexual central lead of a genre show. Or of any show, possibly, since it can be hard to demonstrate pansexuality on a non-genre show. Some have said she was the only bisexual lead of a genre show for a long time. (Possibly going back to Ashley from South of Nowhere, and she was a co-lead.)

    We also have Cosima and Delphine on Orphan Black, and Root and Shaw on Person of Interest. Cosima, Root, and Shaw arguably aren’t the primary central lead on their respective shows, unlike Bo, but they are part of the main cast, and notably, appear to be the Big Romance on their respective shows, as opposed to any of Sarah or Reese’s partners.

    Only Orphan Black has Delphine briefly talk about her sexuality. Otherwise, it’s all taken as a matter of course.

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