- Written By 10Melanin Team
10 LGBTQ+ Tv Shows With Black Leads
There doesn't seem to be a shortage of Black LGBTQ+ characters in television, they often provide the best storylines, quotable moments and memes. Take Titus for example in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or Eric in Sex Education, those shows would be nothing without the Token Black Friend. However, it's a lot harder to find a TV show where production companies think we're worthy of the spotlight as lead character. This happens in most mediums, video games, films, music etc we always seem worthy of a feature but never the hit. So, this list is dedicated to those shows who went against the grain and have helped millions around the world see themselves represented on TV.
10. Aj + The Queen
AJ + The Queen may not be critically acclaimed but it defiantly is a fan favourite. The Netflix show features mama RuPaul as Ruby Red, a down-on-her-luck drag queen who travels across America from club to club in a rundown RV. She comes across AJ, a recently orphaned, tough-talking, scrappy 11-year-old kid who tags along with Ruby in hopes of making it to Dallas to live with her grandfather.
Banana is a British anthology series that focuses on LGBTQ+ youth in Manchester, UK. It's a sister series to E4's Cucumber, which unlike Banana is a self-contained serial that follows the story of one gay man. As an anthology series, the show follows the lives of a different character each episode, it doesn't follow exclusively all Black characters, but 3 out of the 8 are, which makes those episodes at least, worth watching. The series is available in the UK on All 4 and in the USA Logo and Netflix.
8. Styling Hollywood
Styling Hollywood is a documentary style / non-scripted fashion reality television series on Netflix created by Carlos King, that follows the life of celebrity stylist Jason Bolden and his husband Adair Curtis, who is an interior designer. What makes this show so special is that it not only portrays a successful gay Black married couple - something rarely seen on television - but it was also created by a gay Black man too! Each episode features the couple taking on a different challenge set by well-known celebrities such as Dwyane Wade, Sanaa Lathan, and Eve, which can range from red carpet styling to home renovation.
7. High Fidelity
In this remake of the John Cusack film of the same name from the 1990s, Zoe Kravitz plays Rob, a bisexual woman who is going through a breakup. Whats different about this show is its very casual and subtle with the way queerness is represented. Rob's sexuality isn't the main plot; whether you agree or disagree, it may be refreshing to some that the "normal" struggle of a queer woman isn't the main storyline. It's just a story about a music obsessed record store owner navigating her way through life and love in New York. You can just lose yourself in the show and appreciate it for what it is, all while knowing that you're seeing a queer Black woman on TV.
Legendary is a reality television show that delves into the realm of Ball Culture, with 'Houses' competing in dancing, voguing and walking events for a chance to $100,000. Each episode the Houses compete in different categories in front of a panel of judges made up of 4 permanent judges and a 5th guest judge who varies each episode. Despite the fact that the show makes it appear as if ballroom has officially entered the mainstream, it's worth it to see some 'legendary' houses finally receive the recognition they deserve after years of performing in the underground ballroom scene. It's lighthearted, amusing, and absolutely enjoyable, think Pose, but in real life.
Twenties is a single-camera comedy sitcom developed by Lena Waithe that is loosely inspired on her life and experiences. The show follows Hattie, a queer Black girl, and her two straight best friends, Marie and Nia, who spend their days hanging out, talking and chasing their dreams. First airing in 2019 on BET, Twenties is a long overdue representation of the LGBTQ+ community on the channel, their first show of this kind. Despite the fact that it took them so long, the show is a great portrayal of how important gay and straight friendships/ allyships can be, especially amongst Black people.
4. Black Lightning
Den of geek
Jefferson Pierce gave up his superhero alter ego Black Lightning, 9 years ago to be with his ex-wife and daughter Anissa. Pierce is forced to come out of retirement when the criminal organisation '100' kidnaps his daughter. It's after this incident that his daughter starts to develop her own powers and becomes superhero Thunder. Not only is Thunder a Black female superhero which is a rare sight in itself, but she's gay too! Anissa is dating a woman named Grace, positively highlighting a queer, interracial couple (in which neither person is white) on primetime TV.
3. Noah’s Arc
Noah's Arc was the first scripted sitcom to feature a group of Black gay men as its central characters. Even though the groundbreaking show premiered in 2015, as of 2020 it remains the only major network scripted series with a cast of Black gay characters. The show focuses on the lives of Noah, Wade, Alex and Ricky, and was an easy going sitcom, sort of like the gay answer to shows like Girlfriends. The show is an important part of LGBTQ+ history and helped shift perceptions of whats it's like to be both gay and Black. Unfortunately, after just 2 seasons it was cancelled, however most episodes are now available to watch on youtube.
2. Rupaul's Drag Race
Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 10 years, you've probably heard of Rupaul's Drag Race. The reality show is hosted by the one and only Rupaul who has doing drag since the 70's, he uses a similar format to ANTM to crown 'America's next drag superstar'. Over the years there has been over 150 contestants across 10 series, not including spins offs and series in other countries. With such a famous host to the show, it's no surprising that some of the most talented drag queens to rise to fame through this show have been Black, such as Tyra Sanchez, Bob the drag queen, Shea Couleé, Latrice Royale and Symone to name a few.
Pose made history in 2018 when it debuted on FX, due to having the largest cast of transgender actors in TV history. The series focused on New York Ball Culture in the 1980s and 1990s, which served as a safe haven for people of mostly African-American and Latino descent to explore their identities. The show is brutally honest about how difficult it was for the LGBTQ+ community during this period and at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Pose boasts an amazing array of talent with its cast, which includes Mj Rodriguez, Billy Porter, Indya Moore and Dominique Jackson who work well to create rememberable characters.