Queer history is not something I ever learned about in school. But as a bisexual trans man, knowing that we’ve always existed is fundamental for us to being able to thrive as LGBTQ+ young people.
This is why representation matters – be it queer superheroes in film, LGBTQ+ characters on TV, role models in the media or much-needed visibility from a school talk. As a Just Like Us volunteer, I speak in schools about what it’s like growing up LGBTQ+ and why allyship matters. Without seeing ourselves reflected on screen or in real life, how can we expect young people to be confident in knowing that being LGBTQ+ is something to be celebrated?
So here are some of the LGBTQ+ shows that have helped me embrace being a proud bisexual, trans man simply by reflecting our realities back to us on screen.
Seeing more LGBTQ+ role models on TV has given me more confidence that being LGBTQ+ can mean so many different, positive things, and this makes me feel empowered.
It’s a Sin
An emotional rollercoaster about the HIV/AIDs epidemic, Russell T Davies’ epic show leaves you so attached to the characters and with a deeper insight into how it was like throughout this tough period.
The history behind this show should not be forgotten. The struggles that the LGBTQ+ community went through during the 80s was frightening. It’s one of my favourite TV shows and although it has been out for a while now, I still love to revisit the show. Watching it has helped me to understand the experiences of those who lived with HIV/AIDs and has made me want to learn more about LGBTQ+ history.
Queer as Folk
Queer as Folk came out in 2000 and was a major leap for British television as it meant that more and more LGBTQ+ characters were becoming visible in the mainstream. Watching Queer as Folk was exciting and broke down several stereotypes by having three different gay characters.
The show was a groundbreaking development at the time and today, the original and the reboot continue to give me the courage to be proud of who I am.
In the series, it portrays a spectrum of emotions not just with being out as gay but also the difficulties that one of the characters had whilst not being open about his sexuality at work. It’s a reminder that it’s OK not to be out and it’s super important to only ever come out when you are ready. Everyone has a unique coming out experience but what we can all relate to is some of the struggles our community face.
The show has always been a great watch and it proved to me that being authentic to yourself makes you a happier person and with a new series that has recently come out too, younger generations can see the significance of the messages the show brings.
One of the new TV shows that Russell T Davies has written is the much awaited Dr Who series. The show is anticipated to air in 2023, with a 60th anniversary special and the titular Doctor will be played by Ncuti Gatwa. Russell has written previous series of Dr Who before and I’m among many fans who love his work.
As Doctor Who reaches a large audience and has been the longest running sci-fi show, this gives me hope that this positive LGBTQ+ representation will break down barriers about what it means to be LGBTQ+.
Growing up I was ridiculed for being LGBTQ+ and to now see that this successful show will have an LGBTQ+ doctor is a great milestone. It will positively reinforce the intersectional diversity that existed but is rarely reflected back at us. Many young LGBTQ+ people will finally be able to see themselves on TV.
Thank you, Russell T Davies, for helping more people like myself see ourselves on TV.