2015 was a big year for gay characters on TV: Sure we had frustrating moments of gay-baiting and stereotypes, but we also had a landmark kiss, a frank discussion of PrEP, and the the biggest moment for trans visibility to date.
Here’s our look at 19 of the year’s queer TV highlights.
Dean Munsch Gives Judge Scalia A Piece Of Her Mind On Scream QueensFox
When Scream Queens debuted, it took little time establishing itself as the campiest show to air on broadcast TV.
The highlight of the series, though, came when the bad guys came for Dean Munsch, with one of them dressing up as anti-gay Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. She fended off the attackers but gave “Scalia” some special attention.
Patrick Won’t Be Bottom-Shamed On LookingHBO
After plenty of anxiety about his sexuality, Patrick thought he’d made a breakthrough when he brought an enema to the register at a drugstore and proudly announced he wasn’t preparing for a colonoscopy.
Of course, the cashier was underwhelmed—she works in San Francisco, after all.
The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Has Us All Singing “Peeno Noir”
Netflix’s new comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt scored a viral moment when stuggling performer Titus Andromdon recruited his friends to put together a music video for his ode to black penis, “Peeno Noir.”
“All I need is my ringtone and some rhyming words and I can make a music video,” Titus declared. Turns out he was right.
Liz Taylor Reconnects With Her Son On American Horror Story: HotelFX
The Cortez’s genderqueer bartender abandoned her family years ago, but Liz finally reached out to son Doug and invited him to the hotel.
As she tried to build the courage to come out to him as his father, Doug let Liz know he already figured it out—and wanted to reconnect, too.
Annalise’s Ex-Girlfriend Complicates Things on How to Get Away With MurderABC
HTGAWM got even gayer in its second season premiere, when we learned that Eve was not just Annalise’s former colleague but also an ex-girlfriend.
Suddenly, TV had its first bisexual lead—played by an Emmy winner and Oscar nominee, no less.
Quantico Starts With A Stolen KissABC
It may have turned into a giant disappointment but one of the reasons Quantico was initially so compelling was the mystery of Simon’s sexuality.
I mean, the guy arranged for a stranger to pose for a picture of the two of them kissing. We had to know more.
Brenna Battles Biphobia On Chasing LifeABC Family
A highlight of ABC Family’s Chasing Life’s was April’s bisexual sister, Brenna, who had boyfriends and girlfriends with little angst about how it defined her sexuality.
At a new school, she tries to join the LGBT club, only to face biphobia from its members, who balk at her current relationship with a guy. (Sadly, some Chasing Life fans made similar comments about Brenna online.)
Brenna turned the tables, though—confronting her classmates with equally cliche stereotypes about gays and lesbians and getting them to see the errors of their ways.
Miles Comes Out On Love & Hip Hop: Hollywood
Some of the drama this season on Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood involved Miles, who had dated both longtime girlfriend Amber and new boyfriend, Milan.
Miles struggled to come out to Amber, while Milan struggled with the frustration of dating a guy in the closet. When Miles finally came out, it was a truly dramatic moment.
Sense8 Doesn’t Shy Away From Nomi’s SexualityNetflix
We knew the Wachowski siblings’ mind-blowing series was different from other sci-fi fare during the first sex scene between trans hacker Nomi and her girlfriend, Amanita—an encounter that ended with Aminata discarding her strap-on for a post-coital cuddle.
Far from exotifying Nomi, it put her sexual expression on par with the show’s gay and heterosexual characters.
Jamal Comes Out Big On EmpireFox
After shying away from an earlier attempt at coming out publicly, Jamal Lyon (Jussie Smollett) let the world know he was gay in a big way—a performance of “You’re So Beautiful” with same-sex lyrics.
Sure beats a Facebook status, doesn’t it?
The Fosters Airs TV’s Youngest Same-Sex Kiss
First love is pretty common in family dramas, but television has largely avoided the subject when the youth is gay.
The Fosters is bucking that trend with the relationship blossoming between 13-year-olds Jude and Connor (Jonner!), especially when the ABC Family series aired the youngest same-sex kiss on TV.
Mr. Robot Reveals Plenty About White Rose In Just Two MinutesUSA
Sure, having a transgender villain can easily go wrong, but when we finally meet Mr. Robot’s shadowy White Rose, the character is so vividly defined by B.D. Wong that it’s impossible to define her by her gender identity.
Instead, in just two short scenes, White Rose took over as the hacker drama’s most compelling character.
Will Comes Out On Nashville
Will Lexington spent three seasons in the closet on Nashville, but by the Season Three finale his songwriter boyfriend Kevin had enough.
So, in a Hail Mary move to save the relationship, Will came out in the middle of a press conference. Well that’s certainly a big gesture!
Steven Universe’s Lesbian RevealCartoon Network
The Cartoon Network series revealed this year that one of its gem heroes, Garnet, is actually two gems—Ruby and Sapphire—who are so in love they spend their time fused together in one body.
The Wiz Live! Pays Tribute To The Ballroom SceneNBC
For our money, the most memorable moment in NBC’s live musical came when Dorothy and her friends arrived in the Emerald City and find a dance floor occupied by ball queens right out of Paris is Burning).
Who expected a family special would pay tribute to gay culture like that? We didn’t!
Jeffrey Tambor’s Acceptance Speech At The Golden Globe
Taking home Amazon’s first Golden Globe for his portrayal of middle-aged trans woman Maura Pfefferman in Transparent, Tambor rightly kept the focus on the transgender community.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you for your courage. Thank you for your inspiration. Thank you for your patience. And thank you for letting us be part of the change.”
Maya’s Wedding On The Bold And The Beautiful
The romance of aspiring actress Maya Avant and Rick Forrester hit a snag when Maya’s sister threatened to reveal she was trans. In the end, though, love won out and Maya and Rick got married—making her the first trans character to do so on a U.S. soap.
Connor And Oliver Discuss PrEP On How to Get Away With Murder
How To Get Away with Murder continues to move television forward in regards to LGBT issues: This year, after Connor learned he was HIV-positive and worried about infecting Connor, the two discussed safer sex—and, in a TV first, pre-exposure prophylaxis, which protects serodiscordant couples.
Pretty soon, their relationship—and sex life—was back at full speed.
Caitlyn Jenner Comes Out To Diane Sawyer
Whether you like her or not, Caitlyn Jenner appearing on 20/20 in April to discuss her journey as a trans woman was a huge moment for visibility—and made it impossible for America to keep hiding its head in the sand.