It’s about to be autumn which means it’s time for a new season of TV to start, and what’s really exciting about this fall is how many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and queer women and genderfluid actors will be in some of our favorite shows.
From the time-traveling comic book heroes to the political strategists in the White House, we’ve compiled a list of eight LGBQ actors and where you can find them this fall.
Maisie Richardson-Sellers (Legends of Tomorrow)
In Legends of Tomorrow, Maisie Richardson-Sellers plays Amaya Jiwe, aka Vixen, a hero whose power comes from the totem she carries. Vixen can access the power of any animal, which she uses as the guardian of her village, a member of the Justice Society of America, and as a Legend. She joins the team of time-travelers and goes on to date Nate Heywood, aka Steel, before to returning to her timeline.
An English actor who has appeared in various roles onscreen and on stage, Richardson-Sellers has been outspoken about her queer identity. She and Clay, a musician who is wildly supportive of the actor, make quite the adorable couple and their Instagram and Twitter posts might just restore your faith in humanity. (Seriously, they’re that cute.)
When talking about the queer women on Legends of Tomorrow and Black Lightning, Richardson-Sellers told Gay Times Magazine, “You’re seeing the emotional lives of queer characters and that’s really exciting.” She’s not willing to settle for what we have, though. “We still need more lead characters who are of color and who are on the LGBTQ spectrum, but we’re going in the right direction.”
Vixen is slated to return to the Legends team this fall, so we’ll have to see what exactly compels the hero out of re-retirement and back into the field.
Kirsten Vangsness (Criminal Minds)
Kirsten Vangsness plays the spunky, brilliant Penelope Garcia, a technical analyst who works with the Behavioral Analysis Unit on Criminal Minds. Garcia is the woman in the chair, generally helping the team from the safety of her office, which is adorned with cute knick-knacks and bright colors. She might be sweet and a bit over-the-top, but she is also a total badass who has saved the team countless times.
Vangsness declared herself to be “queer as a purple unicorn singing Madonna” to the Advocate in 2011. Since that time, she has had highly public relationships with both women and men. While Vagnsness has been open about her evolving sexuality, the media has had a heyday trying to label Vangsness, picking apart every relationship she’s had and every word spoken during interviews with the actor.
In response to GLAAD taking to Twitter to engage its audience in defining the term “queer,” Vangsness tweeted, “It still feels good to know a word that describes how I identify. Solid.”
Criminal Minds returns for an addictive fourteenth season this fall. Here’s hoping Garcia will be back in the chair, leading the team to victory, and here’s hoping Vangsness knows her queer identity is accepted and valued here.
Wanda Sykes (Black-ish)
In Black-ish, Andre “Dre” Johnson works at an advertising agency called Stevens & Lido, which was originally owned by Leslie Stevens and his silent partner Philip Lido. When Lido goes through a divorce, his ex-wife Daphne Lido, played by Wanda Sykes, becomes the company’s new titular Lido. Daphne immediately shakes things up, firing Dre’s buddy Charlie. She also brings a new voice to the advertising table, where many of the tough conversations of the show take place.
Sykes came out in 2008 at an anti-Proposition 8 rally, a month after marrying her wife. Since then, she has been outspoken about being a lesbian, a black woman, a mother, and all three at the same time, using her considerable platform as a standup comic to draw attention to equity. She’s also been a vocal opponent to the current presidential administration, using her gift for humor to call out problematic policies on Twitter and in interviews.
Season five of Black-ish will air this fall and we can only hope there will be many more opportunities for Daphne Lido to speak her mind.
Raven-Symonè (Raven’s Home)
Raven-Symonè reprises her role as Raven Baxter, a psychic who can see glimpses of the future, in Raven’s Home. The show, a Disney channel spinoff of That’s So Raven, picks up the story left off ten years prior. Raven, now divorced, raises her twin children, Nia and Booker, with her friend and roommate, Chelsea, also divorced and raising a child alone. When it becomes clear that Booker has inherited Raven’s gift, their blended family is thrown into turmoil. Raven is a devoted mother, building a better life for her family one vision at a time.
Raven-Symonè first came out on Twitter, celebrating marriage equality, “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” She later clarified to Oprah that she didn’t want to be identified as gay, though she has self-identified as a lesbian since then.
Raven’s Home’s second season returns this fall. If we’re lucky, Raven-Symonè may also reprise her role as Dre’s sister, an out lesbian, in Black-ish, so keep an eye out for that.
Sara Ramirez (Madam Secretary)
Kat Sandoval, played by Sara Ramirez, is an out and proud, brilliant Latinx political strategist in Madame Secretary. She also happens to be a groundbreaking character whose butch attire complements her quirky personality. Kat gets to be sexy, intelligent, powerful, and bisexual. She helps solve issues with foreign nations, coming up with creative solutions to complex problems. And when the matter at hand turns personal, when LGBTQ+ lives are at risk, Kat comes out to those around her, defying stereotypes of queer and bisexual women of color.
Sara Ramirez came out on Twitter while supporting an initiative to help end homelessness for LGBTQ+ youth in 2016. Earlier this year in an interview for Coming Out Stories, a video series by People and Entertainment Weekly, Ramirez spoke of her hesitance to come out, “I was concerned it would affect my career in a negative way. I was afraid of the discrimination I might face not just outside of Hollywood, but within.”
LGBTQ violence, including the Pulse nightclub massacre, spurred the actor to face her fears and use her platform to empower her communities.
Madame Secretary returns this fall and if the show has picked up on what audiences want, we will get to see more Kat Sandoval in all her glory.
Shannon Purser (Riverdale)
In Riverdale, Ethel Muggs is a reserved young woman until she partners up with Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge to get revenge on the creep-tastic boy who spread sexual rumors about Ethel. Later, Veronica and Ethel bond over experiencing financial hardship, but their relationship is fraught after it becomes apparent that Veronica’s dad is the reason for Ethel’s family’s hardship. Ethel punishes Veronica for her and her family’s crimes, pouring a milkshake on her head in the school cafeteria and then running for student body president against Veronica, showing just how far she has come from the shy girl who was constantly bullied.
If #JusticeforBarb means anything to you, then you already know the amazing Shannon Purser from Stranger Things. Purser originally came out after a heated exchange with Riverdale fans in which she criticized Beronica shippers. “I’ve only just recently come out as bisexual to my family and friends,” wrote Purser in a long note she shared on Twitter. “It’s something I am still processing and trying to understand and I don’t like talking about it too much. I’m very very new to the LGBT community.”
Purser has also discussed her anxiety about coming out, particularly as a Christian, and has encouraged others, letting them know that they’re not alone in exploring their sexuality.
Riverdale returns to The CW this fall. Teen RomCom fans will be delighted to know that Purser will also star in Sierra Burgess is a Loser this fall, opposite Noah Centineo (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before).
Nicole Maines (Supergirl)
Nicole Maines made news this summer at San Diego Comic Con when it was announced that she would be playing TV’s first transgender superhero, Nia Nal aka Dreamer in Supergirl. While we’ve yet to see her onscreen, we know that Dreamer is a protective friend and reporter on a journey of self-discovery. We can look forward to her joining Supergirl’s team and using her precognition to help save the day.
As a trans activist, Maines successfully fought back against her school to be allowed to use the restroom of her choosing in 2013. She was featured on The Trans List and guest starred in an episode of Royal Pains.
After it was announced that Maines would be playing Dreamer, she spoke with Variety about the role. “[Trans folks] can be whoever we want, we can do whatever we want, we can be superheroes, because in many ways we are,” said Maines. “We’ve had trans representation in television for a while but it hasn’t been the right representation.”
Supergirl returns this fall, promising even more adventure and gal-paling.
Ruby Rose (Arrowverse Crossover)
Kate Kane, whose mother and sister were killed in a terrorist attack that Kate survived, becomes Batwoman after she’s expelled from West Point under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Batwoman is like Batman, except she’s better at everything and also wears a very cool red wig and a very cool redlined cape, so she also looks better than him in everything. And, she’s an out and proud lesbian.
Ruby Rose, who will be playing Kate Kane in the Arrowverse, has been out as a lesbian since she was twelve years old, and has known she was genderfluid since she was a child as well. Rose has been open about her childhood including an attempted suicide because of homophobic harassment she received.
When it was announced that Rose would be playing Batwoman, she was attacked for not being “gay enough,” resulting in the actor leaving Twitter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rose’s final tweet included, “Where on earth did ‘Ruby is not a lesbian therefore she can’t be batwoman’ come from — has to be the funniest most ridiculous thing I’ve ever read. I came out at 12? And have for the past 5 years had to deal with ‘she’s too gay’ how do y’all flip it like that? I didn’t change.”
Rose certainly captures Kane’s spirit as a proud lesbian, unwilling to explain herself to anyone.
Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait until the Arrowverse crossover event to meet Batwoman, but if she’s anything like the comic books, it’ll be worth the wait. And, The CW is developing a standalone series based on Batwoman and her vigil over Gotham that we can expect to see in 2019.