Accurate and authentic queer representation in movies and TV shows has a long way to go still. Movies and shows that actually portray queer stories accurately, without any stereotypes or misconceptions often face backlash or are even censored. However, there are instances where the actor or the director or any other crew members advocate for healthy representation or portrayal of the queer community, making the work more inclusive and most often a great success.
Here are 6 movies/TV shows that gained the recognition it deserves because of healthy queer representation by its crew members-
One of the most popular American teen drama, Dawson’s Creek indulged in storylines that discussed themes like mental health, sexual orientation, substance abuse and so on. Season 2 of the show introduced a gay character named Jack McPhee but criticisms arose when the show’s director, Greg Berlanti, decided to portray a kiss scene for Jack. Berlanti explained that a gay kiss hadn’t been portrayed romantically before, especially between teens.
“I had to threaten to quit basically because they wouldn’t let us have the characters kiss.’’, says Berlanti.
Jack went on to become one of the most iconic gay characters on TV. His kiss with Ethan became the first romantic kiss between gay men on primetime TV.
Detective Rosa Diaz, played by Stephanie Beatriz, is an all-time favorite among B99 fans. Stephanie, who is bisexual, wanted to positively and authentically represent bisexuality in the show due to her own experiences after coming out. This included using the word ‘bisexuality’ to tackle bi-erasure. According to her, she was not exposed to such terminologies while growing up, creating misconceptions and doubts.
Aired on Cartoon Network, this animated television series revealed a kiss in the finale between its two favorite characters, Princess Bubblegum and Marceline. The couple were long speculated to be romantically involved, with fans gushing at the chemistry between the two. Although the show offered numerous hints, it was years after when the two finally became official. However, the kiss wasn’t in the original outline for the finale. That’s right.
Initially, the storyboard just mentioned the two having a moment. But this did not sit right with storyboard artist Hanna K. Nyström, who found it pretty obvious that they deserved a kiss scene.
Schitt’s Creek is a Primetime Emmy winning sitcom, popularized by characters like David and Alexis Rose. It has been widely applauded for its authentic and natural depiction of gay relationship. In 2020, Comedy Central India posted a clip from the sitcom but censored a kiss between characters David and Ted.
Dan Levy, who plays David and is also the creator of the show, responded on Twitter saying, “This is a show about the power of inclusivity. The censorship of gay intimacy is making a harmful statement against that message.”
2022 saw the release of the much talked about spin-off for the Toy Story film series. Before it hit theaters, it was announced that a scene involving a kiss, or rather a quick peck, between two women had been cut due to criticisms. The movie even got banned in almost 14 Middle Eastern and Asian countries- yes, you guessed it right, just because the kiss was shared by two women.
However, Disney’s decision to censor the kiss was met with much condemn, including an open letter from Pixar employees. Disney-Pixar movies have witnessed several heterosexual kiss scenes without facing any such disapproval. The reinstated kiss scene makes Lightyear Pixar’s first animated feature film to include a same-gender kiss.
Brokeback Mountain continues to be one of the most favorite love stories for many, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger. Many promotional interviews for the movie included homophobic jokes and banter about gay cowboys, based on the movie’s characters. But according to Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath refused to do take part in an opening bit for the Academy awards that joked about homosexuals. He later acknowledged Heath for this decision.
Despite many setbacks in the portrayal of the queer stories in media, things have begun to slowly turn around. More and more films and TV shows now cast queer actors, tell their stories and perspectives and give them the voice that they long deserved.