Once upon a time, queer TV stars and characters were relegated to supporting or guest roles. Now, we’re seeing countless shows in which they take center stage.
From the vogueing fashion competition Legendary to Lena Waithe’s BET comedy Twenties, here are 37 new series and specials featuring LGBTQ leads and hosts.
AJ and the Queen
This road-trip dramedy stars executive producer RuPaul as broke drag queen Ruby Red, who’s traveling across America in a run-down 1990s van to do nightclub performances in order to earn back money that was stolen from her. Her unlikely companion is a 10-year-old orphan named AJ Douglas (Izzy G.), a stowaway girl who’s disguised herself as a boy. The series was recently canceled, but you can catch Season 1 on Netflix.
Set in 1980s London, this five-part limited drama tells the story of a group of queer male friends who are affected by the AIDS crisis. Its top-notch cast includes Neil Patrick Harris, Stephen Fry, and Olly Alexander, and it was written by executive producer Russell T Davies (A Very English Scandal, the original Queer as Folk). Boys will premiere on HBO Max in the U.S. and on Channel 4 in the U.K. later this year.
Brad and Gary Go To…
Celebrity fashion stylist Brad Goreski and his partner, TV writer and producer Gary Janetti, star in their own HBO Max lifestyle reality series, which will document their international adventures. Can Fashion Police alum Goreski resist the urge to give makeover tips to the people he meets all over the globe?
The Category Is… Mexico City
Revry’s new digital reality series consists of mini-episodes (about seven minutes each) and puts the spotlight on Mexico City’s drag ballroom scene. The show’s chosen family includes house mother Mendoza, activist Negraconda, and dance enthusiast Ponyboy. Muy caliente.
Orange Is the New Black alum Laverne Cox is the star, writer, and executive producer of this comedy, which premieres on NBCUniversal streaming service Peacock sometime this year. Cox plays a trans woman named Desiree, who returns home to Alabama after 17 years to reveal her true gender identity to her estranged father, Henry (George Wallace), an owner of a car wash.
Tituss Burgess has gone from an Unbreakable diva to a fabulous food diva as the host of this reality cooking competition, which launches April 6 on Quibi.
This reality show’s concept could best be described as RuPaul’s Drag Race meets Queer Eye. Featuring drag queens Alexis Michelle, BeBe Zahara Benet, Jujubee, and Thorgy Thor giving makeovers to people celebrating upcoming milestones, Dragnificent! was so well received as a special on TLC last year that the network made it into a series premiering April 19.
The Drew Barrymore Show
Watch your back, Ellen. CBS Television Distribution is behind Barrymore’s syndicated daytime talk show, which she’ll host and executive produce. It remains to be seen how much Barrymore will discuss her fluid sexuality, but she has in several media interviews, so fingers crossed.
Ellen’s Home Design Challenge
Speaking of Ellen, the self-confessed architecture and design junkie had a furniture-building competition series, Ellen’s Design Challenge, on HGTV from 2015 to 2016. Now, DeGeneres is executive producing and starring in Ellen’s Home Design Challenge, which HBO Max will unveil later this year.
HBO Max’s upcoming four-part docuseries chronicles the early LGBTQ rights movement leading up to the first Pride parade in New York City in 1970. Gay Hollywood power players Jim Parsons and Greg Berlanti are among its executive producers.
Everything’s Gonna Be Okay
This quirky comedy starring Josh Thomas (who’s also the showrunner) tells the story of Nicholas, a gay Australian immigrant in his 20s who becomes the guardian of his orphaned teenage American half-sisters after their widowed father dies of cancer. The series, which premiered January 16 on Freeform, shows Nicholas juggling his dating life with his new parental responsibilities.
The Peacock sitcom’s two central characters are a 39-year-old music manager named Ellie and her gay best friend Jonathan, whom she asks to be her sperm donor. Mindy Kaling is one of the executive producers.
Premiering March 8, Bravo’s new ensemble reality series follows a group of Miami residents of Indian heritage who sometimes clash with their families over their lifestyles. Openly gay Amrit Kapai is getting pressure from his parents (who didn’t accept his queerness when he came out) to take his long-distance relationship with his Chicago boyfriend to the next level of commitment.
Partially inspired by comedian Mae Martin’s life, this Netflix comedy series (which premieres March 19) has her starring as Mae, a Canadian stand-up comic in London who gets involved with a British woman (Charlotte Ritchie) who’s never been in a same-sex relationship. Mae’s also dealing with her dark past (drug addiction, a jail sentence), but Lisa Kudrow brings some laughs as her overly involved mother.
Work those petals, honey! One of the judges on HBO Max’s forthcoming reality competition for florists is openly gay Maurice Harris, who owns the trendy L.A. business Bloom & Plume. Elizabeth Cronin (florist owner of Chicago’s Asrai Garden) is the show’s other judge, and British celebrity florist Simon Lycett (a Royal Family fave) is its host.
Girls alum Lena Dunham is an executive producer of this HBO Max dramedy about a group of high schoolers exploring their sexualities in a conservative community. The series has five LGBTQ characters: Justice Smith is Chester, who identifies as queer; Michael Johnston is Ollie, who’s gay; trans actor Nava Mau is trans character Ana; Haley Sanchez is queer character Greta; and Uly Schlesinger plays bisexual character Nathan.
This bilingual Netflix dramedy, which premiered February 21, focuses on a Mexican-American family in Los Angeles and the effects of gentrification on Mama Fina’s, their widowed grandfather’s taco shop. The family includes the artistic Ana Morales (Karrie Martin), whose girlfriend Yessika Castillo (Julissa Calderon) is a local activist.
The 2000 movie High Fidelity (adapted from Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name) starred John Cusack as Rob Gordon, the straight male owner of a music store. Hulu’s TV version, which premiered February 14, flips the gender and sexuality of the lovelorn character, who is now a queer woman (Zoë Kravitz) trying to recover from her past relationships, one of which was with a woman.
I Am Not Okay With This
Based on Charles Forsman’s graphic novel series, this Netflix dramedy (which premiered February 26) stars Sophia Lillis as Sydney, a teenager who discovers she has telekinetic powers. She also has a crush on her best friend Dina (Sofia Bryant).
Untitled James Charles reality competition
Beauty guru James Charles has teamed up with YouTube Originals to host a four-episode contest for aspiring makeup artists that will be available for free on his YouTube channel.
John Early: Now More Than Ever
Gay comedian and Search Party actor John Early has teamed up with indie production studio A24 to executive produce his first comedy special, which will air on HBO Max and include his stand-up act, comedy sketches, and him covering some of his favorite songs.
La Jauría (The Pack)
Trans actor Daniela Vega (from the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman) stars in this Amazon Prime Video drama from Chile. According to an Amazon announcement, Vega’s character is investigating the disappearance of a Catholic school girl, which “exposes a deadly online game which recruits men to commit acts of aggression toward women.”
Ever wonder what a modern-day Pose would look like recast as reality TV? HBO Max’s voguing fashion competition promises house teams and house mothers who’ve come to slay, and it features a compelling array of talent: ballroom diva Dashaun Wesley as emcee; actress Jameela Jamil, hip-hop star Megan Thee Stallion, stylist Law Roach, and trans ballroom scenester Leiomy Maldonado as judges; and DJ MikeQ as music master.
Yes, that Ellen (again). She’s an executive producer of this animated HBO Max series about her childhood. No word yet on who’s in the cast, but it would be strange if DeGeneres (who voiced the titular star in Finding Dory) weren’t portraying herself as a kid.
Making the Cut
Emmy-winning TV hosts Tim Gunn and Heidi Klum have moved on from Project Runway to executive produce and star in their own fashion competition series, premiering March 27 on Amazon Prime Video. Episode winners get their designs sold on Amazon, the grand prize is $1 million, and the judges include supermodel Naomi Campbell, designer Nicole Richie, designer Joseph Altuzarra, editor Carine Roitfeld, and influencer Chiara Ferragni.
Motherland: Fort Salem
Premiering March 18 on Freeform, this action drama stars Taylor Hickson as rebellious queer soldier Raelle Collar, who’s recruited into an army of witches. Amalia Holm plays Scylla, an army member and Raelle’s love interest.
GLAAD’s digital nonfiction series, which launched February 6, celebrates black LGBTQ subjects in four categories: In the Media, which features stories about representation; Community Conversations, which focuses on local stories and change makers; Celebrity Voices, which showcases bold-faced names helping shape the narrative; and On the Scene, which covers major events like the NAACP Image Awards, BET Awards, Essence Festival, and Black Girls Rock.
Next in Fashion
Queer Eye style expert Tan France has teamed up with model and fashion designer Alexa Chung to co-host this fashion competition series, which premiered January 29 on Netflix. The grand prize is $250,000 and a collection available at online retailer Net-a-Porter, and guest judges include fashion editor Eva Chen and stylist Elizabeth Stewart.
Premiering in April, this Quibi reality series starring RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9 winner Sasha Velour will put the spotlight on her stage revue Nightgowns.
Lesbian soccer icon Megan Rapinoe hosts this upcoming Quibi documentary series that profiles eight athletes, ages 21 or younger, who could become major stars in their respective sports.
Queer as Folk
The long-awaited reboot of the Showtime series—about a group of gay men living and loving—has been shuffled around different NBCUniversal networks, bouncing from Bravo to Peacock. There’s still no word yet on who’s starring in it, but we’re hoping we’ll at least get to reunite with fan fave Peter Paige (a.k.a. Emmett Honeycutt).
Amazon Prime Video hasn’t revealed any details yet, but it has announced that this transgender dramedy series from Brazil will be among the streaming service’s new and original programs in 2020.
MTV Studios is partnering with Quibi for a social-media-oriented reboot of MTV’s ’90s dating competition show. Premiering this spring, it will be co-hosted by queer actors Keke Palmer and Joel Kim Booster, and unlike the original it will include dating across the spectrums of gender and sexuality.
This sci-fi series, which premieres May 17 on TNT, is based on Oscar-winning director Bong Joo Ho’s 2013 movie about survivors of an apocalypse who live on a train that’s divided by social class. Starring Jennifer Connelly and Daveed Diggs, it has several sexually fluid characters.
Edie Falco is back, playing another outspoken badass. In this new CBS drama, which premiered February 6, she stars as Abigail “Tommy” Thomas, the first female police chief of the Los Angeles Police Department—who also happens to be a lesbian.
Untitled Trinity the Tuck reality series
Tag along with the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars Season 4 as she relaunches the Florida Entertainer of the Year Pageant on this forthcoming WOW Presents Plus show.
Executive produced by Joel Kim Booster, this Quibi comedy series set on New York’s Fire Island is described as a gay Pride and Prejudice.
Inspired by the real-life experiences of executive producer Lena Waithe, this BET comedy series (which premiered March 4) stars Jonica “Jojo” T. Gibbs as Hattie, a lesbian aspiring screenwriter in her 20s who’s navigating life among her straight circle of friends and co-workers in Los Angeles.
Visible: Out on Television
Apple TV+’s five-part docuseries, which premiered February 14, chronicles the history of queer representation in television. Among the LGBTQ celebrities interviewed are Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Billy Porter, Margaret Cho, Tim Gunn, Adam Lambert, Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox, Asia Kate Dillon, Janet Mock, George Takei, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Rachel Maddow, Lena Waithe, Sara Ramirez, Adam Rippon, Billie Jean King, Jill Soloway, Andy Cohen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Abbi Jacobson, and its executive producers Wanda Sykes and Wilson Cruz.
Premiering April 23 on HBO, this six-part reality series trails RuPaul’s Drag Race alumni Bob the Drag Queen, Eureka O’Hara, and Shangela Laquifa Wadley as they recruit people from small towns across America for a drag competition.
Main image: (L-R): Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, and Eureka O’Hara in HBO’s We’re Here.