Thanks to Star, Disney Plus just got a whole lot gayer. The sixth brand to launch after Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic, the new sub-section has doubled the amount of content available on the streaming service, which was, to be honest, a heterosexual haven upon its initial debut. In 2020, however, the LGBTQ+ community found their place on one of the world’s leading media platforms with the inclusion of groundbreaking television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Grey’s Anatomy, Love, Victor and Ugly Betty. The gays have won! One Million Moms, what’s good? Following in the footsteps of our Netflix listicle, we’ve collected 17 of the best queer shows you can watch right now on Disney Plus.
9-1-1: Lone Star (2020 – present)
Cast: Rob Lowe, Ronen Rubinstein, Rafael Silva, Sierra McClain, Jim Parrack, Natacha Karam, Brian Michael Smith, Julian Works, Gina Torres
Hailing from queer mastermind Ryan Murphy and his frequent collaborators Brad Falchuk and Tim Minnear, Lone Star focuses on the fire, police and ambulance departments of the fictional Station 126, located in Austin, Texas. It’s one of the most inclusive shows on air, with Natacha Karam as Marjan Marwani, a devout Muslim, Ronen Rubinstein as Tyler Kennedy “TK” Strand, a gay man struggling with addiction, Rafael Silva as Carlos Reyes, a gay police officer, and Brian Michael Smith, who made history as the first out Black trans man in a series regular role on network television. Rubinstein and Silva’s characters, in particular, are passionately championed on social media with fans affectionately referring to the couple as ‘Tarlos’.
American Dad (2005 – present)
Cast: Seth MacFarlane, Wendy Schaal, Scott Grimes, Rachel MacFarlane, Dee Bradley Baker, Jeff Fischer, Patrick Stewart
Arguably Seth MacFarlane’s best adult animation, American Dad focuses on the eccentric middle classic Smith family in the fictional community of Langley Falls, Virginia. The household includes CIA agent and devout Republican father Stan; wacky housewife Francine; staunch leftist and hippie college daughter Hayley; nerdy high-schooler son Steve; talking fish with the brain of an East German athlete Klaus; and pansexual, psychopathic gender-fluid alien Roger. Thanks to the latter’s plethora of campy personas and wild escapades, Roger was named the gayest cartoon character of all time in 2014.
American Horror Story (2011 – present)
Cast: Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Angela Bassett, Emma Roberts, Lady Gaga, Billy Eichner, Lily Rabe, Taissa Farmiga, Denis O’Hare, Frances Conroy, Kathy Bates, Cheyenne Jackson, Billie Lourd, Adina Porter, Leslie Grossman
Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology series has been one of the world’s most popular dramas since its premiere 11 years ago, with praise directed at the performances of Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Kathy Bates, Frances Conroy and Angela Bassett. Each season features a different sub-section of horror, such as an asylum, a haunted house, a coven of witches, a cult and an apocalypse. There are numerous LGBTQ+ characters in the series, most notably Paulson’s two lead characters: Lana Winters and Ally Mayfair-Richards. The series has been renewed for three more seasons, meaning American Horror Story will be on our screens until at least 2023.
American Horror Stories (2021 – present)
Cast: Matt Bomer, Gavin Creel, Sierra McCormick, Paris Jackson, Merrin Dungey, Aaron Tveit, Madison Bailey, Naomi Grossman, John Carroll Lynch, Rhenzy Feliz, Kevin McHale, Nico Greetham, Dyllon Burnside, Charles Melton, Danny Trejo, Billie Lourd, Ronen Rubinstein, Virginia Gardner, Vanessa Estelle Williams, Cody Fern, Dylan McDermott, Kaia Gerber, Noah Cyrus
The third instalment in the American Story franchise, Ryan Murphy’s brand new spin-off features a different horror story each episode and sees the return of fan-favourite stars from flagship series, American Horror Story, such as Matt Bomer, Naomi Grossman, John Carroll Lynch, Billie Lourd, Cody Fern and Dylan McDermott. As is the case with most Murphy projects, the series boasts plenty of queer moments – particularly in the first, second and final episodes of season one. It was recently confirmed that the series will return for a second season.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 – 2003)
Cast: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson Hannigan, Nicholas Brendon, Anthony Stewart Head, Emma Caulfield, Charisma Carpenter, David Boreanaz, Amber Benson, Michelle Trachtenberg, James Marsters, Eliza Dushku
Created by J**s W****n – who went on to write and direct The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron – Buffy the Vampire Slayer focuses on a teenage girl bestowed with supernatural abilities to defeat vampires, demons and the forces of darkness etc. The fantasy drama has continuously received widespread critical acclaim – with many individual episodes hailed as some of the finest in TV history (Hush, Restless, The Body, Once More, with Feeling) – and has also been credited with influencing other series in the same genre. Buffy also received praise for its queer representation, with resident witches Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara Maclay (Amber Benson) making history as the first long-term lesbian relationship on US television. The former’s sex scene with Kennedy (Iyari Limon) made history, again, as the first ever lesbian sex-scene on mainstream television. We rounded up the queerest moments from the series, which you can view here.
Brothers & Sisters (2006 – 2011)
Cast: Dave Annable, Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Balthazar Getty, Rachel Griffiths, Sarah Jane Morris, John Pyper-Ferguson, Matthew Rhys, Ron Rifkin, Patricia Wettig, Kerris Dorsey, Emily VanCamp, Maxwell Perry Cotton, Rob Lowe, Luke Grimes, Luke Macfarlane, Gilles Marini
Brothers & Sisters revolves around the drama of the privileged Walker clan in the wake of the death of William, the family’s patriarch and founder of family business Ojai Foods. The ensemble cast includes mother Nora (Sally Field) and her children Sarah (Rachel Griffiths), Tommy (Balthazar Getty), Kitty (Calista Flockhart), Justin (Dave Annable) and Kevin (Matthew Rhys), as well as Nora’s brother Saul (Ron Rifkin) and his mistress Holly (Patricia Wettig). Due to the lack of queer representation on mainstream television at the time, the characterisation of Kevin, who is openly gay to his family and workplace, was applauded by critics. His wedding to Scotty (Luke Macfarlane) was the ninth same-sex wedding ever on US television, and the first ever between two series regulars.
The Fosters (2013 – 2018)
Cast: Teri Polo, Sherri Saum, Jake T. Austin, Hayden Byerly, David Lambert, Maia Mitchell, Danny Nuci, Cierra Ramirez, Noah Centineo
Conceived by openly gay creatives Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige, The Fosters reflects the “modern American family” with lesbian leads Stef Foster (Teri Polo), a police officer, and Lena Adams (Sherri Saum), a vice-principal. The drama, which ran for five seasons, follows the couple as they raise their blended family in San Diego, which includes one biological and four adopted children. The Fosters was lauded for its innovative LGBTQ+ themes, such as its depiction of a lesbian biracial couple, the coming out journey of a young teen (Hayden Byerly) and the inclusion of a transgender character played by a transgender actor (Tom Phelan). Following the show’s conclusion, a spin-off series starring Cierra Ramirez and Maia Mitchell’s characters, Mariana Adams Foster and Callie Adams Foster, launched to similar acclaim. Good Trouble’s third season premiered in February 2021.
Glee (2009 – 2015)
Cast: Lea Michele, Dianna Agron, Chris Colfer, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Darren Criss, Harry Shum Jr, Chord Overstreet, Jacob Artist, Jayma Mays, Kevin McHale, Amber Riley, Naya Rivera, Heather Morris, Jenna Ushkowitz, Corey Monteith
Ryan Murphy’s musical teen drama follows several students in the fictitious William McKinley High School glee club, as they navigate issues such as sexuality, race, gender identity, bulimia, pregnancy and school violence. In the first season, Kurt (Chris Colfer) struggles with his sexuality and his feelings for Finn (Corey Monteith) and in later years, becomes romantically involved with Blaine (Darren Criss). They were later named “one of the most beloved TV couples of the millennium”. The late Naya Rivera also received widespread praise for her portrayal as Santana, a popular, hard-as-nails cheerleader at McKinley who embarks on a friends-with-benefits-esque relationship with fellow cheerleader, Brittany (Heather Morris). Glee was nominated for 19 Emmy Awards throughout its run.
Grey’s Anatomy (2005 – present)
Cast: Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Katherine Heigl, Justin Chambers, Chandra Wilson, T.R. Knight, James Pickens Jr, Patrick Washington, Kate Walsh, Sara Ramirez, Eric Dane, Chyler Leigh, Kevin McKidd, Jessica Capshaw, Kim Raver, Jesse Williams, Jake Borelli, Chris Carmack, Sarah Drew, Alex Landi
Created by Shonda Rimes, Grey’s Anatomy tells the story of several surgical interns, residents, and attending physicians at the fictional Seattle Grace hospital. Since its debut, the show has been commended for its diversity. Over the course of 16 seasons, we’ve been introduced to several characters who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans, so pretty much the entire LGBTQ+ acronym, which many shows have failed to do. After 239 episodes over 11 seasons, fan-favourite character Callie Torres (Sara Ramirez) made history as the longest running queer character in television. The character’s relationship with Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw) became one of the most championed lesbian romances, well, ever. More recently, the relationship between newbie doctor Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli) and Nico Kim (Alex Landi) has become the most prominent queer romance in the series.
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series (2019 – present)
Cast: Olivia Rodrigo, Joshua Bassett, Matt Cornett, Sofia Wylie, Larry Saperstein, Julia Lester, Dara Reneé, Frankie Rodriguez, Mark St. Cyr, Kate Reinders, Joe Serafini
13 years after the wildly successful first High School Musical movie debuted on the Disney Channel, a TV series both continuing and paying homage to the legacy of the iconic musical was released on the house of mouse’s Disney+ streaming service. While the original movie featured a character most viewers assumed was gay (Lucas Grabeel’s Ryan Evans), this new show marks the first time the franchise has featured an out and proud LGBTQ+ character (Frankie Rodriguez’s Carlos Rodriguez) who’s allowed to be, and say, who they are. (Lead character Nini – played by Olivia Rodriguez – also has two mothers.) The second season made history for Disney with their first ever same-sex song, when Carlos pens love anthem for his boyfriend Seb (Joe Serafini).
It’s a Sin (2021)
Cast: Olly Alexander, Omari Douglas, Callum Scott Howells, Lydia West, Nathaniel Curtis, Neil Patrick Harris, Keely Hawes, Stephen Fry
Created by Russell T Davies, It’s a Sin follows a group of friends in 1980s London who grow up in the shadow of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander leads the cast as 18-year-old Ritchie Tozer, who moves from the Isle of Wight to the Big Smoke in search of fame and success. The five-part drama was praised across the board for the cast’s performances, powerful storytelling and for bringing HIV/AIDS to a mainstream audience. A few weeks after its release, All4 announced that it broke a major record as their biggest ever instant box with over seven million streams. It also proved to have a remarkable impact on viewers, with LGBTQ+ charity Terrence Higgins Trust announcing that 8,200 HIV tests were ordered in one day – smashing their previous daily record of 2,800.
Loki (2021 – present)
Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Owen Wilson, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Wunmi Mosaku, Richard E. Grant, Sasha Lane, Erika Coleman, Eugene Cordero
Yes, it’s not explicitly queer in the slightest, but the revelation of Loki’s queerness in the first season of his Disney+ spin-off series was a watershed moment for the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it marked the studio’s first openly bisexual superhero ever. Although it was a tiny moment, it was a breath of fresh air to witness some non-heterosexuality in the franchise while also confirming Marvel executives are making good on their previous commitment to diversify their heroes. The series, which sees Tom Hiddleston reprise his fan-favourite role, takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame and follows an alternative version of the Asgardian trickster as he escapes imprisonment from Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and creates a new timeline. The first season received overwhelming acclaim and a second has been confirmed.
Love, Victor (2020 – 2022)
Cast: Michael Cimino, Rachel Hilson, Anthony Turpel, Bebe Wood, Mason Gooding, George Sear, Isabella Ferreira, Mateo Fernandez, James Martinez, Ana Ortiz
Set in the same world as Love, Simon, the series focuses on the title character (Michael Cimino), Victor Salazar, a new student at Creekwood High School who, like Simon, is on a journey of self-discovery as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality. Upon release, Love, Victor received acclaim from critics for Cimono’s lead performance, the supporting characters and for capturing the essence of the original teen drama, which made history as the first Hollywood film to focus on a gay teen romance. It also became the number one most-watched drama on Hulu. The series came to an end with its third season in 2022.
Modern Family (2009 – 2020)
Cast: Ed O’Neill, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Eric Stonestreet, Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould, Rico Rodriguez, Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, Jeremy Maguire
Following its conclusion last year, Modern Family became ABC’s longest-running ABC ever with 11 seasons and 250 episodes. The mockumentary sitcom was met with high praise throughout its run for its format and cast performances, particularly Sofia Vergara as Gloria Marie Ramirez Delgado-Pritchett, and Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson as married couple Cameron Tucker and Mitchell Pritchett. Their romance was notable for being the first time a major network showcased a long-term, committed queer relationship between two leading characters. Following their wedding in season five, which garnered over 10 million viewers, support for marriage equality in the United States reached an all-time high. While it might have taken a longer time than expected for the couple to be intimate with each other, the impact of their relationship on television – and the general public – is undeniable.
The Owl House (2020 – present)
Cast: Sarah-Nicole Robles, Wendie Malick, Alex Hirsh
The Owl House follows the adventures of Luz (Sarah-Nicole Robles), a teenage girl who stumbles across a portal to a magical world. There, she befriends a powerful witch called Eda and her dog-like demon warrior King (Alex Hirsh), and enrols into a Hogwarts-esque school called Hexside Academy of Magic and Demonics. The animated fantasy has been applauded for its LGBTQ+ representation, becoming the first Disney title to feature a same-sex couple in leading roles. Dana Terrace, creator, later confirmed that Luz is bisexual and her love interest, Amity, is a lesbian. In its second season, Disney made further strides when they introduced their first ever non-binary character in Raine Whispers, a “sharp and hardworking Head Witch of Bard coven”. Last year, it was confirmed that The Owl House will return for a third and final season.
Pose (2018 – 2021)
Cast: Mj Rodriguez, Indya Moore, Dominique Jackson, Billy Porter, Ryan Jamaal Swain, Hailee Sahar, Angel Bismark Curiel, Dyllon Burnside, Jeremy McClain and Jason A. Rodriguez
Focusing on the queer African-American and Latino communities of the ballroom scene in 1980s New York City, Pose features the largest amount of trans actors in regular roles of any scripted television series in history. The series received universal acclaim from fans and critics with Billy Porter – who plays Pray Tell, the show’s resident emcee in the Ball scene – becoming the first openly gay black actor to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. Not only that, Mj Rodriguez, the star behind series lead Blanca Evangelista, became the first transgender woman to earn an Emmy nomination in a major acting category. The groundbreaking drama came to an end with its third season in 2021.
PRIDE (2021 – present)
In PRIDE, six renowned LGBTQ+ directors explore “heroic and heartbreaking” stories that define America as a nation. The limited series explores the FBI surveillance of homosexuals during the 1950s Lavendar Scare to the “Culture Wars” of the 1990s, as well as the queer legacy of the Civil Rights movement and battle for marriage equality. PRIDE also shines a spotlight on various international figures such as Civil Rights pioneer Bayard Rustin, writer Audre Lord and Senators Tammy Baldwin and Lester Hunt, and “little-known characters” such as Madeleine Tress and Nelson Sullivan, the photographer who chronicled a vanishing downtown NYC at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Interviews and archival footage of pioneers such as Christine Jorgensen, Flawless Sabrina, Ceyenne Doroshow, Susan Stryker, Kate Bornstein, Dean Spade and Raquel Willis chart the evolution of trans rights and identities through the decades.
Scream Queens (2015 – 2016)
Cast: Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Billie Lourd, Skylar Samuels, Lea Michele, Niecy Nash, Glen Powell, Diego Boneta, Abigail Breslin, Keke Palmer, Oliver Hudson, Kirstie Alley, Taylor Lautner, John Stamos
Queer mastermind Ryan Murphy recruited American Horror Story alum Emma Roberts (Coven, Freakshow, Cult, Apocalypse, 1984) for this short-lived comedy horror series to play the now-iconic Chanel Oberlin, the rich and self-centered president of a sorority. Its debut season follows a sorority called Kappa Kappa Tau who are hunted down by a serial killer in a Red Devil costume, with its second and final season set in a hospital. The series received mixed reviews throughout its run, which is bull, really. It was fun, campy and ridiculous (and it knew it was ridiculous), and its cast members, especially Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Billie Lourd and Niecy Nash were perfection in their roles. The show gained something of a cult following, and fans have been calling for a revival ever since it was taken off the air. Well, it seems that our prayers may have been answered, as Murphy confirmed last year that a third season is in development.
Ugly Betty (2006 – 2010)
Cast: America Ferrera, Vanessa Williams, Eric Mabius, Tony Plana, Ana Ortiz, Becki Newton, Michael Urie, Mark Indelicato, Ashley Jenson, Rebecca Romijn, Alan Dale, Judith Light
One of the campest shows of all time (it’s not up for discussion), Ugly Betty revolves around title character Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), a fashion trainwreck who lands a job at the Vogue-inspired fashion magazine MODE, led by conceited diva and former supermodel Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams). The series boasts several queer storylines thanks to Wilhelmina’s right-hand man and openly gay assistant Marc St. James (Michael Urie), Daniel Meade’s (Eric Mabius) formerly dead trans sister Alexis (Rebecca Romijn) and Betty’s nephew Justin (Mark Indelicato) who explored the difficulties of coming to terms with sexuality as a teenager.