By S.E. Fleenor
Lesbian, bisexual, and queer erasure has pretty much always existed in media, but it has seemed pronounced lately, especially in Science Fiction and Fantasy (SFF) movies. We’ve seen Valkyrie straight-washed, as well as Wonder Woman, Constantine, Harley Quinn, Iceman, and Mystique. (I’ve barely scratched the surface. The list goes on and on.)
In SFF TV, though, queer women are showing up in force. They’re super-powered and super-smart. We still need more and better representation, particularly for queer women of color, trans and nonbinary folks, queer women with disabilities, and every other member of the queer community who do not see themselves represented on TV.
Jeri Hogarth, Jessica Jones
Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) is a powerful, intimidating lesbian, lawyer, and counsel to the super-powered in Hell’s Kitchen. (Moss also played Trinity in The Matrix so you already know she’s one attractive lady.) In the comics, Jeryn Hogarth is a sort of dumpy lawyer and confidant to heroes. He’s more of a side character than an antagonist, while the Hogarth from the Jessica Jones TV show (and the other Netflix adaptations) is anything but a sidekick.
She’s manipulative, conniving, and ruthless. In one of the eerier choices she makes, she salvages the potentially powered aborted fetus of the child of Kilgrave, a super villain who can make anyone do anything he wants just by saying so. She takes the cell tissue to see if she can find a way to harness his powers. She even helps Kilgrave escape from Jessica so he can help her with her own divorce negotiation. In the end, Kilgrave supercharges himself with tissue samples from the aborted fetus, which make him that much harder for Jessica to defeat. In Iron Fist, Hogarth helps Danny Rand prove his identity and get reinstated with his family’s company after he returns, and she hires Daredevil’s best friend, Foggy Nelson. She has him represent Jessica when she gets caught up in another huge case in The Defenders.
You may not like Jeri, but her tenacity is admirable. Check her out in season two of Jessica Jones, which is set to release on Netflix on March 8th.
Anissa Pierce/Thunder, Black Lightning
Anissa Pierce (Nafessa Williams) recently started feeling strange. In times of great stress, she has exhibited supernatural strength and the ability to create shockwaves when she stomps. Unbeknownst to Anissa, her father, Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), the principal of the school where she works, is the superhero vigilante Black Lightning.
As Jefferson comes out of vigilante retirement, Anissa begins exploring her powers and finds that she is frighteningly strong. The first time she uses her powers on humans, she worries that she might have killed the drug dealers she was trying to scare. In a community plagued by police brutality, gang activity, and racism, Anissa starts to believe her powers are not just a gift, but a responsibility. Time and again, throughout the show, we see Anissa assuming the role of protector.
One of the best things about Anissa is the fact that she’s just out. There’s no coming out story in the TV show, though her parents do reference her coming out at one point. She lives her life as a lesbian without remorse or regret. She has a girlfriend she breaks up with and meets the very cute Grace Choi. To see her manifest her powers on top of all her confidence and power is a sight to behold.
Grace Choi, Black Lightning
Grace Choi (Chantal Thuy) is a cute comic book nerd who Anissa meets in a library. They immediately connect and start flirting while talking about genetic mutation, which Anissa is researching.
When Grace is knocked unconscious by a gang member, we see Anissa express her powers more drastically than ever before. Later, while she’s holding Grace, she wonders aloud if someone who could do something to right the wrongs of the world should. Grace affirms that they should. Grace has Anissa’s back and believes in her, even though she doesn’t yet know about her powers.
Grace is out and open with her bisexual identity, even joking about it with Anissa. We don’t know if Grace will exhibit the powers she has in the comic books yet, but the first season has just begun.
Power Coupling: #Thundergrace
So far in the TV show, Anissa and Grace are just getting started as a couple and as heroes, but their attraction and support of one another has me really rooting for them. They are an extremely rare example of a relationship between queer women of color and we need more positive examples out there. Bring on #Thundergrace!
You can see Anissa, Grace, and the whole Black Lightning team on Tuesdays on the CW.
Sara Lance/The White Canary, Legends of Tomorrow
After surviving a horrific boat accident, Sara Lance (Caity Lotz) is recruited to the League of Assassins, naturally, and becomes a lethal force. While living with the League, she falls in love with Nyssa Al Ghul, daughter of the leader of the League.
Sara, who made her first appearance in Arrow, fights alongside and dates the Green Arrow (or Arrow or Hood, or whatever Oliver Queen is calling himself at the time), survives her own death by use of a magical hot tub, and is recruited to join a team of time traveling vigilantes. A typical tale. She assumes the identity of the White Canary for her new role and as she travels through time, Sara flirts with and kisses nurses, a female Merlin, and her teammate, Leonard Snart.
In the second season of Legends of Tomorrow, Sara becomes the ship’s captain and leads with humor, grace, and many, many stunning fight scenes. She tempers the ragtag team of heroes and damn, it’s nice to see a woman in charge.
Season three of Legends of Tomorrow is still in progress, and things are heating up with Ava Sharpe. You can catch my favorite bisexual time traveling captain on Mondays on the CW.
Alex Danvers, Supergirl
Agent of the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (D.E.O.) and member of her sister Supergirl’s team, Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh) comes out of the closet in season two of Supergirl. Some of us might be sick of coming out stories, but for a show created for a younger audience, this coming out story is powerful.
Alex describes herself as always feeling like something was wrong with her, as if she didn’t want to date, until she met Maggie (Floriana Lima). An out and proud cop, Maggie assumes Alex is gay, which helps Alex out of the closet. The two begin dating, while fighting super villains and teaming up with heroes from other universes. Ultimately, Alex and Maggie split because Alex wants to have kids and that doesn’t work for Maggie. In the end, the actor, Lima, decided not to return to the show, so the split was inevitable.
Decisive, powerful, loyal, and quite the fighter, Alex is a credit to queer women. You can see her on season three of Supergirl which is currently airing on Mondays on the CW.
Waverly Earp, Wynonna Earp
The younger sister of the heir to the Earp Curse, Waverly Earp (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) is whip smart, adorkable, and an irreplaceable member of her sister Wynonna’s team.
When we first meet Waverly, she’s wielding a shotgun, which is aimed at her sister Wynonna (Melanie Scrofano), who she believes is currently hooking up with Waverly’s boyfriend. Over the first season of the show, we see Waverly begin to question her relationship and her sexuality, as she comes into contact with the very sexy police officer, Officer Haught. When Officer Haught kisses Waverly for the first time, it is powerful, sensual, and blows Waverly’s world right open.
As Waverly explores her sexuality, we see her transition from a shy woman testing the waters to a powerful woman who goes after what she wants. The second season also finds Waverly questioning her relationship to her family and her future.
Officer Haught, Wynonna Earp
Officer Nicole Haught (Katherine Barrell) is an unshakeable force for good on Wynonna’s team.
At first, the group keeps Officer Haught in the dark, but she’s a great detective and figures out that something is amiss in the Ghost River Triangle. When the supernatural happenings are confirmed for her, she doesn’t freak out. She’s just relieved she’s not the only one who knows something is wrong. She fights heterosexism, small town politics, and demons throughout the show.
In the second season, Officer Haught is wounded by a demon-widow and falls into a coma. The audience feared the worst for Haught, but she comes out of the coma and lives to fight another day.
Power Coupling: #WayHaught
Officer Haught and Waverly are both awesome on their own, but together they make cute-sexy-funny-loving relationships seem natural. Things aren’t always easy—they make it through their own fair share of supernatural mishaps—but they’re an example of what love between two women can look like.
You’ll be able to watch #WayHaught’s evolution in season three of Wynonna Earp, which is slated to air on SyFy sometime in 2018.
Karolina Dean/Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Runaways
What do you do when you find out your parents are super villains? Karolina Dean (Virginia Gardner) and her friends try to answer this question in season one of Runaways.
While sleuthing and being a hormonal teenager, Karolina also finds out that she has superpowers. She can manipulate solar light and fly. When the bracelet she was given as a child isn’t inhibiting her abilities, she shines like an iridescent rainbow. Can she get any queerer? In fact, she can!
As they prepare to act like normal kids for a night at the high school dance, Karolina finally makes her feelings known and kisses Nico, her friend and eventual leader of the Runaways. They go on to kiss again later in the season and share a very sweet moment complete with eye batting and sly smiles.
Nico Minoru/Sister Grimm, Runaways
Nico Minoru (Lyrica Okano) is a bad witch you do not want to mess with. She can do anything, but she can only do it once. (It’s a limitation of her magical powers.) She’s a member of the all-female Avengers called A-Force, and a general badass. Long before her reign as bad witch, though, Nico was just a kid in California–a kid with super villain parents–but a kid nonetheless.
This is where we meet her in the TV show Runaways. She’s emo, she’s angry, and she’s mourning the death of her sister. When she and her friends find out that their parents are evil, she starts investigating her connection to a family heirloom, the Staff of One, which gives her the ability to manifest anything she can think of.
During this confusing time in Nico’s life, she kisses Alex, another teammate, but after she finds out that Alex has been keeping secrets about her sister’s death, she rejects his advances. She and Karolina share a passionate kiss and this sets Nico down an entirely new path of self-discovery.
Power Coupling: #Nicolina
One of the best things about Karolina and Nico’s relationship is how far it deviates from the comic books, which are filled with off-hand heterosexist remarks and Nico distancing herself from Karolina when Karolina expresses an interest in her. In the TV show, we see two young women acknowledging their attraction. We’ve barely seen either use their powers and I’m really looking forward to what happens to #Nicolina in season two.
You can join me in watching their relationship to each other and their parents evolve in season two of Runaways, which has been renewed for a second season on Hulu. Given when the first season aired, we might see the second season as soon as fall 2018.
Cassandra Cillian/The Librarian, The Librarians
Cassandra Cillian (Lindy Booth) is a genius with a brain tumor, which essentially gives her super powers. Recruited by the mystical Library to preserve magical artifacts, Cassandra is one of the three librarians who is new to the game.
For much of the show’s run thus far, the show seems to flirt with the idea of Cassandra’s queerness. She gets enchanted and becomes a female Prince Charming. All the ladies in the town start fawning over her and she likes it. She flirts with a diplomat and gets her phone number, while also stealing her earrings, which are magical artifacts, so it’s totally fine. And, on more than one occasion, she makes eyes at her Guardian (not that kind of guardian, gross. It’s a magical thing.), played by Rebecca Romijn. I also make eyes at Romijn in this TV show. At one point, Cassandra makes advances toward an older male character and seems to have some sexual tension with another librarian who is male.
After three seasons, the show finally lets Cassandra be out. When Cassandra’s life-threatening tumor is removed, she realizes how close to the end she was and rushes to see her friend, who is a vampire that she has been relentlessly flirting with the entire episode. They share a passionate kiss and boom, Cassandra’s out of the closet!
The season finale of season four of The Librarians just recently aired. We’re waiting with baited breath to see if TNT will renew the show for a fifth season.