5 On-screen Coming Out Stories that Paved the Way for Greater Representation

Chris Pratt

Five years after being accused of “straightwashing” bi-sexual character Hercules in its comic book line, Marvel has put out a graphic novel in which Star-Lord from Guardians of the Galaxy is a polyamorous bisexual. 

The revelation about the character, who is played by Chris Pratt in the blockbuster films, is made in I Shall Make You a Star-Lord, with the character —  real name Peter Quill — entering a parallel universe after a brush with death. Once there, he becomes involved in a century-long polyamorous relationship with Aradia and Mors after accepting that he will not make it back home or to his love Gamora. 

It is not known whether Quill’s sexuality will be referenced in future film instalments of the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise when Pratt, who has been accused of being affiliated with an anti-LGBTQ church in the past, returns to play the character. 

Sky-Lord is the latest well-known character to be revealed as non-heterosexual, following in the footsteps of Dumbledore from Harry Potter and Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob Squarepants

If Marvel Entertainment did choose to incorporate Sky-Lord’s sexual preferences into future films, it would not only contribute to the promising shift toward ensuring LGBTQIA representation in film and television but would place him on a growing list of on-screen characters who have helped members of the LGBTQIA community feel seen or even come to terms with their own sexuality. 

Here, we take a look at five LGBTQIA characters who discovered their sexuality on screen, paving the way for greater visibility and inclusivity.

Rosa Diaz, Brooklyn 99 

In the Season Five episode ‘Game Night’ Detective Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz) confesses to her Nine-Nine family that she is bisexual, and is immediately embraced by the crew, particularly by Captain Raymond Holt (Andre Braugher) who is gay himself.

The coming out was, in part, inspired by Beatriz’s own revelation that she is bisexual and her desire for people who identify that way to have their truth celebrated instead of villainised on screen. As Jake Peralta would say, “noice!”

Willow Rosenberg, Buffy the Vampire Slayer  

Cult series Buffy the Vampire Slayer made history and was internationally praised for portraying both the first long-term lesbian relationship and first ever broadcast of a lesbian sex scene on US television when Willow (Alyson Hannigan) fell in love with Tara (Amber Benson).

Creator Joss Whedon has said that if the show were to be made today, Willow would have been bisexual from the start, but that society just “wasn’t ready for it” at the time the series began. 

David Rose and Patrick Brewer, Schitt’s Creek 

Schitt’s Creek, which concluded its amazing six-season run this year, continues to be upheld as the gold standard for representation and inclusivity, particularly for the way the show handled Patrick (Noah Reid) coming out to his parents.

The love story between Patrick and David (series co-creator Daniel Levy) is one for the ages and is peppered with sweet moments such as each of the characters serenading each other with Simply the Best and Patrick’s perfect proposal, but even before the couple started planning the wedding of the decade, the show was hitting all the right notes. David’s explanation of his pansexuality to Stevie (Emily Hampshire) using red and white wine was so simple yet poignant that several fans later told Levy that they had used the very same metaphor when coming out themselves. 

Todd Chavez – BoJack Horseman 

In season four of Netflix’s anthropomorphic animated series BoJack Horseman, Todd Chavez (voiced by Aaron Paul) confesses to Bojack (Will Arnett) that he is asexual after hinting at it at the end of the previous season.

He begins attending meet-ups with fellow aces and eventually settles into a happy relationship with fellow ace Maude (Echo Gillette). While Todd’s depiction as a sex-averse asexual was cited as being imperfect, it was also considered to be a positive step toward greater asexual inclusion. 

Santana Lopez, Glee

This list (which is by no means exhaustive) would feel incomplete without Santana Lopez, who was played by the late Naya Rivera. In Season Two of Glee Santana realises that she is a lesbian when she falls in love with her best friend Brittany (Heather Morris). Santana struggles with her sexuality – demonstrating a contrast with Brittany who is comfortable as a bisexual woman – allowing viewers to go on a journey of self-acceptance and discovery with her with the pair marrying in the show’s final season.

Rivera’s sensitive on-screen portrayal of an LGBTQIA character and her fierce advocacy for the community offscreen made the actress’s tragic drowning death in July 2020 all the more devastating to fans and the LGBTQIA community alike. 

If you or someone you know needs information or support in regards to their sexuality or gender, please head to one of the following resources.

— LGBTQIA Support Services – ReachOut Australia: A resource for people who have questions about, or feel like they need support related to, sexuality or gender.

— National LGBTI Health Alliance: The National LGBTI Health Alliance is the national peak health organisation in Australia for organisations and individuals that provide health-related programs, services and research focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people (LGBTI) and other sexuality, gender, and bodily diverse people and communities.

— QLife: QLife provides Australia-wide anonymous, LGBTQIA peer support and referral for people wanting to talk about a range of issues including sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.

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