Readers’ Choice: The Top 25 Gay TV Characters Revealed!

Television matters. Who and what we see on our screens each
week tells us a great deal about who and what is relevant in society, who has
power, and who doesn’t. That’s why pays such close attention to
the shows that have gay characters and gay storylines, analyzing what each new
character and plot twist says about the acceptance of gay and bisexual men in
today’s world.

Television programming as we know it today came into
existence approximately seventy years ago. However, it took thirty-five years
for the first semi-regularly recurring gay character to appear, on The Corner Bar, an 1972 ABC show that lasted
for fifteen episodes and featured Vincent Schiavelli as Peter Panama. Over the
next several years, gay characters popped up on other short-lived shows
including Hot L Baltimore and The Nancy Walker Show, but it wasn’t
until 1977 and Soap that gay and
bisexual men were able to watch a gay character on a show that was an actual hit.

Despite this relatively short history, there was still quite an impressive roster of characters for our readers to choose from for our poll of the Top 25 Gay and Bisexual TV Characters. For the purposes of this poll, we focused only on gay and bisexual male characters (leaving the ladies to our colleagues over at that were substantial roles as opposed to those that only appeared for an episode or two. Our list of potential candidates numbered nearly 150, ranging
all the way back to Peter Panama and, most recently, Noah Mayer (Jake Silbermann), a character
introduced on CBS’ As The World Turns
little more than six months ago.

The final results of our survey tilted heavily toward the most
recent representations. Yes, these characters are fresher in viewer’s minds
than are characters from older shows. However, the more recent characters are also
much richer and more fully-developed than were the Matt Fieldings (Melrose Place)
or Steven Carringtons (Dynasty) of twenty years ago.

Therefore it’s not surprising that of our top twenty-five characters
only two – Jodie Dallas of Soap and
Waylon Smithers of The Simpsons
debuted more than ten years ago. The most recently introduced character to make
the list was, in fact, Noah Mayer of ATWT
who plays the love interest of Luke Snyder (Van Hansis).

It’s also not surprising that the U.S. version of Queer as Folk, arguably the most
successful specifically gay show of all time, placed five characters on our
list. It’s only natural that gay viewers would respond to a show about gay men that
featured gay men prominently rather than as mere window dressing given a few
lines each episode and, if they were lucky, the occasional secondary storyline about
their coming out.

And while Queer as Folk
was certainly controversial, even in the gay community, the show didn’t shy
away from showing gay men as fully developed characters with sexual lives and
storylines that were complicated if not always flattering.

Our list also reflects the fact that television, and
especially gay characters, are still largely the dominion of white men. The
only men of color to make the top 25 were Enrique Rickie Vasquez (My So-Called Life), Keith Charles (Six Feet Under) and George Huang (Law & Order: SVU). It’s also
interesting to note that of the top twenty-five characters six are played by
out gay men – Randy Harrison, Peter Paige, Wilson Cruz, John Barrowman, Robert
Gant, and B.D. Wong – half of whom were on Queer
as Folk

Without further ado, here are the top twenty-five gay
and bisexual characters of all time!

Will & Grace may
have been a landmark gay show, but it received some criticism from the LGBT
community because of lead character Will’s relative lack of
a sex life compared to Grace. But what
Will’s romantic life lacked in quantity, it may have made up for in quality. The
evidence? Will’s most substantial love interest actually made it onto our
top-25 list based on reader votes.

Vince D’Angelo, played by Bobby Cannavale, was introduced on the 6th season of Will & Grace.
Vince was an Italian-American New York City Police Department officer, and his
blue-collar roots made his pairing with effete, white-collar Will comical and
yet still endearing.

Vince and Will’s relationship lasted until the spring of
2005 when Vince lost his job and the two mutually agreed to "take a
break." Will would go on to have other relationships (among them one with “James,”
a character played by Taye Diggs), but of all Will’s love interests Vince made
the most lasting impression. In the
series finale Will is even shown in a flash-forward reunited with Vince.

Cannavale’s portrayal was popular both with fans and with critics. He won an Emmy for the role in 2005 – for
outstanding guest actor in a comedy series. This makes him one of only three actors represented
in our top-25 list to win an Emmy for their role.


Marco del Rossi was first introduced in 2002 during the
second season of Degrassi: The Next
. For those who don’t watch the show, it follows the trials and
tribulations of a bunch of high schoolers.
Think Beverly Hills 90210 only set in Canada.

it wasn’t clear what his sexuality was. His dark good looks and winning smile
attracted the attention of a female character named Ellie. The two began publicly
dating, but Ellie was frustrated when Marco seemed to have no
interest in making their relationship more physical. Eventually he admitted to
her that he was confused about his sexuality.
Over several seasons Marco would come out to other friends and family.
He also has had a tempestuous relationship with Dylan, an older boy who would
later cheat on him.

The clip below shows Marco torn between his nice guy
boyfriend, Tim and his continuing feelings for bad boy Dylan.

Adamo Ruggiero was a 2003 nominee of a Young
Artist Award for Best Ensemble in a TV Series for Degrassi and in 2005 was nominated for Best Performance in a TV series — Leading Young Actor. The young
performer takes seriously the fact that gay teens strongly identify with
the character he plays. Ruggiero has even lent his name to The Trevor
, an organization that helps gay and questioning youth.

Billy Crystal is probably best known for hosting the Oscars, and starring in When Harry Met Sally (1989) and City Slickers (1991). But the comedian really burst on the scene with his turn as gay son Jodie Dallas on the ABC sitcom, Soap, which ran from 1977 to 1981.

"You wear that belted?"

In a 2002 New York Times interview, Billy Crystal admitted to some early misgivings about taking a gay role:

"I was Jackie Robinson for a while…. you could feel people deal with you differently. They’d be playing to you like, ’Oh, you’re the gay guy.’ It was very creepy at the beginning."

"My skin would crawl sometimes,” he said, remembering the derision studio audiences would direct at his character, Jodie, the gay son of a blue-collar Connecticut family. Like the time Jodie’s ex-boyfriend told him, ”I love you and I want you back.” ”The audience hears that and they go nuts,” Mr. Crystal said. ”They start tittering and laughing.” In such scenes, he said, ”If there was an isolated camera on me, you would have seen me getting red and sweaty, thinking, "What am I doing here?"

And yet, by the end of the series, audiences had warmed up significantly to Jodie Dallas. In the third season, Jodie is involved in a child custody battle. According to Crystal, "The mail was three to one that I should get the child, and I thought that was the biggest victory of all.”


Dr. George Huang joined Law & Order: SVU in 2002 and became a series regular soon thereafter. Huang is not only an FBI agent, but is also the Special Victims Unit’s resident psychiatrist. Of all the characters included on our list, Huang is the only who has never explicitly been stated as being gay. But so many viewers have read the soft-spoken, even-tempered and brilliant agent as gay that he made our list of the best gay characters.

Part of the reason for that might be that Huang is played out actor B.D. Wong (Oz, M. Butterfly) making him one of the six out actors playing characters on our top twenty-five list. He is also one of the few out Asian actors on television, along with Rex Lee who plays Lloyd on Entourage. With any luck, NBC might see fit to make Huang explicitly gay, thereby helping to remedy the current dearth of gay characters on the Peacock Network.


While U.S. audiences were finding themselves finally enjoying a same-sex male relationship on a soap opera, U.K. audiences were already deep into the relationship on Hollyoaks between John Paul (James Sutton) and Craig (Guy Burnet). While the pairing didn’t mark a breakthrough for British television, already having had a fairly extensive track record of gay representation on soaps, it did mark a breakthough for Hollyoaks, which didn’t.

But what the show lacked in previous representations it more than made up with the relationship between John Paul and Craig, which quickly became a fan favorite. John Paul joined the show in the fall of ’06 and while the character was conceived as gay from the very start, viewers didn’t learn that fact until January when John Paul broke down and tearfully told Craig, his best friend, that he was in love with him.

What followed were a tumultuous seven months as Craig came to terms with his own feelings for John Paul, something that came to a head during a party to celebrate Craig’s engagement to a woman. Ultimately the two broke up, but not before viewers saw that gay relationships were every bit as caring, complicated, and enjoyable as straight ones.

It’s no surprise both Keith Charles and David Fisher from HBO’s Six Feet Under made our list. While Will Truman on Will & Grace
was usually helping Grace deal with her relationship issues (and having
very few of his own), David and Keith were neck deep in their own
relationship problems. But viewers didn’t mind too much as their
partnership marked one of the first fully developed gay relationships
ever seen on television.

Keith Charles was a breakthrough character in many ways. Not only was
he a non-stereotype masculine gay man employed as a cop who loved
paintball, but his relationship with David Fisher marked one of the first
ongoing gay interracial pairings on television.

As played by Matthew St. Patrick, the character of Keith was
complicated and not always positive. While he was completely out and
unapologetic about who he was, he also had anger issues that on several
occasions nearly ruined his relationship. But he also provided a needed
counterbalance to the stereotype of black gay men as mincing queens.
Indeed, that stereotype was exploded in the show’s fourth episode
"Familia" when David and Keith are called "fags" in a parking lot.
Keith grabs the man by his collar and says, "Next time you call someone
a f**king fag, you make sure that fag isn’t an L.A. police officer."

No wonder gay fans put Keith in the top twenty-five!


Fans of Brothers & Sisters cater waiter Scotty were
heartbroken when Scotty exited the show less than halfway through the first
season. After all, he had been the one to challenge Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) to loosen up his buttons and
live life as a gay man a little more freely. And it was with Scotty that Kevin
shared that first kiss that told gay viewers Brothers & Sisters was going
to be much more than another drama chastely portraying a gay couple’s
neutered relationship.

As written by B&S creator Jon Robin Baitz and acted by
Macfarlane, Scotty is unabashedly gay, proud of who he is, and feisty when
backed into a corner. After he left the show, fans pined for his return, finding
Kevin’s subsequent relationships with Chad Barry (Jason Lewis) and Jason
McCallister (Eric Winter) to lack the same chemistry.

Indeed, some started referring to
Scotty as Kevin’s "Mr. Big" (referencing Carrie Bradshaw’s on again/off again relationship
on Sex and the City) in hopes that Scotty might return. Scotty has
indeed returned to B&S
and just last week found himself again dating Kevin, setting up a
possible love triangle with Kevin and his most recent boyfriend Jason
McCallister (Eric Winter), yet another way
B&S is breaking ground in portraying gay relationships on broadcast


Waylon Smithers has the notable distinction of being the only animated
character to make our list. We were
somewhat surprised by this as there were quite a number of other
gay animated characters on our survey. So why did Smithers rise to the
top? Maybe he scored points for his absurd, toady-like devotion to the
evil Mr. Burns. Or maybe Smithers has risen to the top simply because
of his longevity.

Waylon Smithers was first introduced in the third
episode of The Simpsons, way back in 1990. This actually makes him the longest running gay character (animated or otherwise) to make the Top 25. What have followed are nearly two decades of his fawning over the derepit Mr. Burns, yet somehow he has managed to win our hearts nonetheless!


Played by hunky out gay actor Robert Gant, Professor Ben
Bruckner came into Michael Novotny’s life in the second season of Queer as
and gently got him to let go of his unrequited crush on Brian. He was
steady, reliable, understanding, and intelligent, and he looked great with his
shirt off, too.

Ben was also HIV-positive, and QAF didn’t shy away from
looking at the sexual and emotional complications of a relationship between two
men of different HIV status. Although Ben, a Buddhist, was usually so serene he
was just the tiniest bit boring, the death of his ex-lover from AIDS and the
anti-gay attack that almost killed Michael both sent him over the edge, giving
his serene exterior just enough emotional depth to save his character from
being so perfect he was dull.


Although he ranks a bit lower than his other half, Luke Snyder (Van Hansis) As the World Turns
newest gay character has certainly found his way into the hearts of gay
and straight audiences alike. In fact, the chemistry generated by Noah
Mayer (Jake Silbermann)
and Luke has made the duo the most popular couple on the show and they
were recently named as one of seven hottest pairings on all of daytime

Noah’s coming out story on ATWT wasn’t an easy one,
complicated by the fact that he was deeply closeted and severely
compromised by the presence of his homophobic (not to mention
murderous) father whom he desperately wanted to please.

But thanks to the support of his friends and his new beau, Noah pulled
through the tough times. No one can say for sure what the future holds for the young
couple — this is a soap opera after all — but Noah’s strength in coming
to terms with his sexuality and overcoming his father’s hateful
influence has made his story one to watch.


Rickie was television’s first gay teenage character to have
a regular role in a series, and what a series it was: The groundbreaking,
massively influential one-season wonder known as “My So-Called Life,” the story
of a group of friends in a Pittsburgh high school that ran for only one year in
the mid-90s before becoming a cult hit.

Played by out gay actor Wilson Cruz, Rickie struggled with
first, unrequited love, the demands and rewards of friendship, girls having
crushes on him, an abusive family, homelessness, and trying to find a place for
himself in the world. Rickie Vasquez was made of equal parts vulnerability and
courage, and embodied the painful outsider inside every queer kid who ever went
to high school.


Desperate Housewives’ Andrew Van de Kamp (Shawn Pyfrom) is a very popular
boy, making it all the way to number 15 on our countdown.
This comes as a bit of a surprise because Andrew, while being very secure in
his sexuality (a rarity for a gay TV teen), is also something of a sociopath.

Andrew has always been a troubled teen. In the
first season, he ran over Carlos’ mother putting her in a coma. In the second season, after the death of his
father, he grew increasingly at odds with mother Bree. She had trouble accepting her son’s sexual
orientation, leading Andrew to conclude that she didn’t really love him. This led him to retaliate with an all out campaign to destroy Bree’s life. Andrew’s
cold-blooded machinations were impressive; he went so far as to seduce his mother’s
boyfriend. When Bree found the two of them in bed, she was so devastated that she
drove her son out of town abandoning him on the side of the road.

After time living on the street, Andrew returned home
in Season 3 and gradually repaired his relationship with his mother. His storyline was pretty quiet during the
third season but fans of the character can take heart. Executive producer Marc
Cherry has promised
to feature Andrew more prominently in the future. "He’s had such a tame
year [in Season 3], it’s time to kind of juice him up again."

Chris Keller is one of only two bisexual characters to make our list, and the other one — Torchwood’s
Captain Jack — is technically omnisexual. He’s also the only convicted
murderer to make the list, having wound up in HBO’s fictional Oswald
Penitentiary for committing several murders.

It is there that the bisexual Keller meets the ostensibly straight
Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen) in the series’ second season. Their
courtship is hardly the typical one with Keller wooing Beecher solely
in order to curry favor with another inmate who is seeking revenge
against Beecher.

Despite setting Beecher up for a brutal beating that leaves his arms
and legs broken, the two men do eventually fall in love though it
doesn’t last long. Over the ensuing seasons their relationship goes
through ups and downs worthy of a Shakespearean tragedy including
murder, betrayal, and suicide.

Keller’s inclusion here is significant as it indicates there have
been enough gay characters that one as complex and villainous as Keller
can still be a fan favorite.


Jack McPhee arrived at fictional Capeside High School during the second season of out gay writer Kevin Williamson’s Dawson’s Creek. Jack was eventually forced out of the closet by a sadistic English teacher who made him read a personal and revealing poem in front of his class. The gut-wrenching scene, one of Dawson Creek’s most memorable, appears below.

To his surprise, Jack’s classmates rallied around him, forcing the sadistic teacher into early retirement.

Despite support from his friends, particularly Pacey (Joshua Jackson), Jack would continue to struggle with his sexuality for the remainder of the series. Thankfully he did have some memorable relationships along the way, and, in fact, the character can boast having shared the first onscreen gay male kiss on network television. And in the Season 3 finale, Jack finally screwed up the courage to lock lips with his longtime crush, Ethan (Adam Kauffman).


The bitchy gay queen is no breakthrough in terms of gay male
stereotypes in entertainment. Fashion-obsessed, shallow, prissy men who
serve little purpose other than to drop of-the-minute pop culture
references and lob zingy barbs at our heroes have been around for

But leave it to ever-impressive Ugly Betty to
take this stereotype to a new level. Marc St. James, viperish assistant
to Wilhelmina Slater, is a bitchy gay queen with a barely-beating heart
strapped under all that Burberry plaid. Initially a throw-away minion,
thanks to stellar writing and Michael Urie’s portrayal,
Marc has been given a human side that these characters seldom enjoy,
and his ill-fated coming out to his overbearing mother (played by Patti
LuPone, in a deft twist) made us actually feel for the guy, as much as
we may have resisted.

This season Marc fell in love with Cliff, a decidedly non-fabulous
(actually, downright shlubby) photographer, putting another crack in
his armor. So yes, we love Marc because he’s a living, breathing,
feeling person fighting to get out from under all that nasty … and in
the meantime, the nasty’s pretty darn fun.


Gay science fiction fans have long complained that their favorite shows — Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, Heroes — have failed to boldly go where other shows had already gone, namely including gay characters. But Torchwood, the Doctor Who
spin-off, created by out writer Russell T Davies, finally did go there
— and in a big way. Torchwood not only featured the first bisexual sci fi
hero in Captain Jack Harkness, but the role was also played by out
actor John Barrowman.

As played by Barrowman, Captain Jack is a dashing rake, fond of the
gentlemen and the ladies as well as anything else extraterrestrial. He’s
the brave, dashing hero of the show able to be tough when needed and
tender as well, something gay viewers were treated to in the episode
"Captain Jack Harkness".

In that episode, Captain Jack traveled back in time to meet — and
woo — his namesake in one of the most romantic episodes of television
gay fans have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. Even better? The show
has been a huge hit, garnering record ratings for both BBC America
(which broadcasts the show in the U.S.) and for BBC Three which
initially aired the show in the U.K.

About the impact of playing the role of Captain Jack, Barrowman told in an interview:

It is gratifying … I was doing
another kind of signing thing at a press conference where I was signing
autographs and a little boy came up to me with his father. The father
said do you want Captain Jack’s autograph? The little boy [said] "Oh,
yes, Daddy. I don’t care if he likes boys or girls, he’s my hero."

Coming in at number ten, Captain Jack is clearly one of our heroes as well.


The perennial boy next door and gay everyman, Michael
Novotny (Hal Sparks) started out as Brian Kinney’s sidekick and grew into his
own kind of hero by the time Queer as Folk filmed its final scene. He
married HIV-positive Ben Bruckner in Canada, adopted an HIV-positive foster
son, and had a close relationship with his wisecracking, PFLAG-member, diner
waitress mother, played by Sharon Gless.

In contrast to best friend Brian, Michael chose marriage,
family, and a house with a white picket fence. But after almost dying in an
explosion at a gay political benefit, Michael demonstrated that his true colors
included the whole rainbow of queer experience. Chosen to be a poster boy for
an assimilationist gay rights organization, he went off script at a media
event, pointing out that he wasn’t necessarily “just like” everyone else. “In
many ways, my life is nothing like yours,” he said. “Why should it be? Do we
all have to have the same lives to have the same rights?”


The other half of Six Feet Under’s
gay couple, David Fisher was the polar opposite to Keith Charles’
(Matthew St. Patrick) out and proud L.A. police officer. David, a very
religious man who performed in his church’s choir and served as a
deacon, was deeply tortured by his sexuality. While not as complicated
as some characters who made our list (Oz’s Chris Keller, to name one) David’s self-hatred manifests in numerous ways including acts of unsafe sex and bursts of anger.

David was not only religious, but unlike most gay men portrayed on
television was also fairly conservative — having once belonged to the
Young Republicans and wanting desperately to start a family and have

His relationship with Keith was tumultuous to say the least as Keith
had issues of his own. Viewers sometimes grew frustrated with the
couple’s bickering, but thanks to the humanity brought to the part of
David Fisher by actor Michael C. Hall, gay fans tuned in religiously to see what would happen
next to one of the most fully realized and complex gay men on


Queer as Folk’s Emmett Honeycutt could have been
nothing more than an offensive stereotype, but out gay actor Peter Paige
instead brought to life one of TV’s best portrayals of a strong, queeny gay
man. Emmett could dance, accessorize, organize a party, and fight like the
devil for the people he loved and causes he believed in.

Emmett had romantic relationships with all kinds of men,
including a wealthy senior citizen, his nebbishy best friend, and a closeted
professional football player. When he loved, he loved hard, wearing his heart
on his always-fabulous sleeve. Despite heartbreak and loss, he always picked
himself up, dusted himself off, spent a few days wrapped in a blanket eating
ice cream, and then went out and did it all over again.


It’s no surprise that As the World Turns
gay teen Luke Snyder placed near the top of the list. After all, the
groundbreaking character recently made American television history as
half of the first ever gay male teen daytime kiss, and subsequently
narrowly survived a homophobic attack from his boyfriend’s murderous

Luke is a unique case in that while his character has been around for
years, he only became aware of his sexuality in his teens, taking
millions of loyal viewers with him on his journey of self-discovery.

Luke’s coming out bonded him with his father and left him stronger and more confident in himself. When
handsome newcomer Noah (Jake Silbermann) arrived in Oakdale, Luke was
able to keep his level head when it became apparent that Noah had
feelings for him. This being a soap opera, Noah first had to date
Luke’s best friend Maddie before finally coming out.

Luke’s common sense, genuine concern for others, and undeniable
squeezability make him hard not to love, groundbreaking or no. And
thanks to the considerable talents of actor Van Hansis,
the hurdles faced by a gay teen coming to know himself have become
accessible, mainstream drama. Now it just remains to be seen whether
Luke will find himself in a traditional soap opera wedding.


Before Brothers & Sisters was even a gleam in Jon Robin Baitz’s eye, Will & Grace laid claim to the title of great gay hope. For the first time in broadcast network history, an out, gay man was at the center of a television show. He wasn’t the queeny sidekick, or the closet case, or the nice yet seldom seen secretary, but an out-and-proud gay man named Will Truman.

Yes, it’s true, Will might have been somewhat upstaged by his hilarious
sidekick Jack (Sean Hayes), but arguably actor Eric McCormack had the more
virtuoso role. After all, for seven years he had to play gay, and the comic straight man.

In a cast of
mostly over the top zanies, Will’s was almost always the voice of reason and
sobriety. And yet the character managed to be both endearing and hilarious. He
was a sitcom character you could root for. And the first lead gay male
character on network TV to boot!

Brothers & Sisters
Kevin Walker (Matthew Rhys) came along last year at a time when gay viewers
could be forgiven for thinking they might never see another fully-developed gay
character on broadcast television. Will
& Grace
, a show not without critics for its less than three-dimensional
portrayal of gay men, had recently gone off the air and two new shows which prominently
featured gay men – Crumbs and The Book of Daniel – were both cancelled
after airing fewer than ten episodes. And most other gay characters on television were those
relegated to only brief appearances such as Stanford Blatch on Sex and the City or Joe the bartender on
Grey’s Anatomy.

And the prognosis for Brothers
& Sisters
wasn’t terribly great either as the show debuted with
extensive rewrites of the pilot, rumors of on-set strife, and with Rhys
stepping into the role of Kevin Walker after Jonathan LaPaglia was replaced.

But almost from the get go gay viewers found themselves watching something very different — a fully
realized portrayal of a gay man who was kind, petty, funny, sexy, smart and not
just a little self-destructive when it came to love.

In B&S’ first season, Kevin had not one, not two, but three love interests. Gay viewers,
starved to see same-sex affection, were practically gleeful when Kevin kissed
Scotty (Luke MacFarlane) not to mention when he later shared a bed with Chad
Barry (Jason Lewis) with none of the resulting controversy and threats of boycotts that
erupted when thirtysomething showed two men in bed.


One of television’s most fully realized gay teenaged
characters, Justin Taylor was 17 years old when Queer as Folk debuted.
Over the five seasons the show ran, he started a Gay-Straight Alliance at his
high school, was brutally gay-bashed at his prom, had to learn how to use his
right hand again during his first year of art school, created a successful
underground gay comic, fought the election of a homophobic mayor, opposed an
anti-gay statewide ballot proposition, achieved acclaim as an artist, and oh
yeah – won the heart of the guy who claimed not to have one, Brian Kinney.

Portrayed by out gay actor Randy Harrison, Justin was never
one for agonizing over his sexual orientation or struggling with coming out. He
may have made a couple of soapy detours through a brief career as a go-go boy
and as a member of a gay vigilante group, but Justin Taylor was the first out,
proud, and politically active gay teen on American series television.


What can we say about Jack MacFarland, or “Just Jack!” as he
often referred to himself. And when it came to every possible gay stereotype, the boy hit the
bullseye each time.

Vain and self-absorbed? Check Flighty? Check. Catty? Check. Oversexed.
Definitely check. Naturally, he even obsessed over pop culture divas. Who can forget the
time he met Cher in person and mistook her for
a drag queen? “You’re not that great, Mr. Sister. I do a better Cher than you."
He realized his mistake when she slapped him and, referencing her iconic
line from Moonstruck, told him to “snap out of it.” At which point he promptly

And yet for all the negative stereotypes Jack embodied, Sean
Hayes managed to make his character completely endearing and, yes, strangely
palatable for straight audiences. Hayes earned seven Emmy nods and one win for his over-the-top portrayal. No surprise then that two years after Will
& Grace
went off the air, this comic creation would still rank as number
two on our list. The boy is simply unforgettable.


Showtimes’s Queer as Folk wrapped up its 5-year run
in 2005, but the anti-hero of the show, Brian Kinney (Gale Harold), still managed to win the most votes from readers.
It’s likely that if there’d been a vote for least popular gay character,
he’d have won that, too. That’s partly because Brian Kinney pretty much wins at
everything he does, and partly because the character is a very polarizing one
in the gay community.

Handsome, arrogant, successful, and slutty, Brian spent five
seasons running from love, almost-but-not-quite selling his soul for money and
power, and drinking, drugging, and clubbing while trying to hide most of his
good deeds – and the fact that he had a heart – from everyone around him. All
of those contradictory qualities might make for good drama, but they don’t make
Brian Kinney the best representative of the gay community in TV history. His
character was often criticized for perpetuating negative stereotypes about gay
men, even while his bad boy persona won him passionate fans.

Brian wasn’t just a bad boy, though; he was considerably
more complex than that. The show included storylines in which he fathered a
child for a lesbian friend, master-minded the downfall of a homophobic politician,
and gave up power and financial success trying to bring the killer of a
teenaged gay hustler to justice. He even ultimately admitted he’d fallen in
love. And he did it all while wearing Prada and pretending not to give a damn.
Really, other than the promiscuity, drug abuse, and anti-social behavior,
what’s not to love?

Here are Brent and Michael, our Two Gay Guys, discussing the results!

— Also contributing to this article were Dennis Ayers, Brian Juergens, and Christie Keith.