As we all know representation matters — and that includes Black queer characters. Seeing people who look like you and share your racial, cultural, or sexual identity on mainstream platforms is empowering and important. That being said, one thing modern media is sorely lacking is Black queer representation in TV and film.
There have been strides in the past couple of years for more intersectionality on TV. Take for example the groundbreaking series Pose. The show, which cast a record-high number of transgender cast members in a scripted series, was a progressive step forward for more onscreen inclusion. But there is still a need for more accurate and holistic portrayals of Black queer stories. Pose’s final season aired in 2021. Since then there has been a handful of other television shows with Black queer characters that are worth shouting out.
Here is a list of 5 Black queer TV characters we love in 2022.
Rue in ‘Euphoria’
Season 2 of the highly popular high-school drama series, Euphoria, premiered in January 2022. The series follows a group of teens as they grapple with friendships, addictions, love, sex, abuse, and more. The show’s narrator and main character is Rue played by Zendaya. The dynamic role won the actress her first Emmy Award. Rue is a complex character struggling with drug addiction, depression, anxiety, and other challenges. Her love interest on the show is a free-spirited transgender teen named Jules. Their relationship is tumultuous and toxic, at times, but it’s refreshing to see young queer love portrayed onscreen in such a raw and candid way.
Oluwande in ‘Our Flag Means Death’
Our Flag Means Death is a new show on HBO Max that premiered in March 2022. The show takes place in 1717 and follows Stede Bonnet, a wealthy landowner who decides to leave his family and become a pirate. The series is based on a true story but definitely takes some liberties with the characters and their relationships with one another. In the show, Bonnet falls for Edward Teach, a.k.a the infamous captain Blackbeard. The slow-burn queer romance between the two isn’t the only LGBTQ+ representation on the show. Samson Kayo plays Oluwande (or Olu), a soft-spoken pirate who has a budding romance with Jim, a non-binary pirate. Their relationship is so endearing and natural. It’s a pleasure to watch their friendship progress into love.
Elle in ‘Heartstopper’
Heartstopper is a new show on Netflix that premiered in April 2022. The British coming-of-age romantic comedy primarily follows Charlie Spring, a gay high schooler who falls for one of his classmates, Nick Nelson. The show chronicles their friendship and blossoming romance. The show also explores the lives of three of Charlie’s friends, Tao, Isac, and Elle. Elle (played by Yasmin Finney) is a transgender teen who transferred from an all-boys school to an all-girls school after transitioning. Finney who plays Elle is a rising Black British trans actress who rose to prominence on TikTok with videos sharing her experience as a Black trans woman. Her authentic portrayal of Elle is exactly the onscreen Black queer representation that is needed in society.
Mr. Ajayi in ‘Heartstopper’
In addition to the students, there is another character in Heartstopper that makes the show a heartwarming watch. Charlie’s art teacher, Mr. Ajayi (played by Fisayo Akinade) is an openly gay teacher who acts as a mentor and support system for Charlie throughout the season. Whenever Charlie needs relationship advice or a safe haven to escape the brutality of high school life, he goes to Mr. Ajayi. The teacher we all wish we had in school, Mr. Ajayi passes on his knowledge and experience as a gay man down to his students as a sage advisor. His kindness and emotional support are something all young queer people need from their adult counterparts. Mr. Ajayi’s significance is even more profound when you consider ongoing legislation that wants to sever these sorts of ties between teachers and students.
Shane in ‘The Flight Attendant’
Season 2 of the HBO series The Flight Attendant premiered in April 2022. Though unlikely to have a third season, the show has a strong following and is a fun watch. The series follows an alcoholic flight attendant who wakes up in bed next to a dead man, without any recollection of what took place. It stars Kaley Cuoco as Cassie Bowden in the title role. In addition to Cuoco, another standout character is Shane Evans played by Griffin Matthews. Shane is a fellow flight attendant and friend of Cassie’s. What we love about Shane is his tell-it-like-it-is personality and fraught friendship with Cassie. Likewise, it’s nice to see a Black gay character with power and authority—Shane is also a CIA agent—which is something you rarely see in other crime shows.