Here’s 35 LGBTQ Female TV Characters of Color Who Made 2014 A Very Queer Year

2014 was a remarkable year for queer women on scripted television. Five years ago, broadcast and cable networks clocked in at 32 queer female characters, total. This year, they boasted over 100. When I started covering lesbian media back in 2008, we didn’t have enough content to split between five writers for one weekly column; these days, we couldn’t recap every show with a queer female character if we had a full-time army of writers. TV still has a long way to go, both in terms of the quantity and quality of writing for LGBTQ women and trans women in particular, but we have come a really long way in a really short amount of time.

One of the main things to cheer about this year was that there were more LGBTQ characters of color on television than ever before. I counted 34 on broadcast, cable and streaming TV services. That’s more than the total number of lesbian/bi characters on TV in 2009, which is good news! It’s not great news, but it’s good news!

The reason it’s not great is because of those 34 characters, ten of them won’t be returning in 2015 due to being killed off their shows, written off their shows, or having their shows cancelled. There’s some overlap here. Nenna (Crossbones), Tara (True Blood) and Rayna (Matador) were killed off, for example, but their shows were also cancelled. The other thing that makes it good-not-great news is that of the remaining women, only six can really be counted as main characters. And, of course, fictional queer women of color only make up about 30 percent of the total number of fictional queer women on TV, and it’s still painfully uncommon to see a same-sex couple on TV where both women are of color.

Like I said, we’ve got a long way to go.

But, it’s encouraging that the number of queer female characters on TV has increased 300 percent in five years. And it’s encouraging that it is becoming commonplace to add queer female characters to new TV shows, and that these characters won’t always be white. And it’s super encouraging that streaming TV services are making broadcast network models of making television completely obsolete. Things are changing faster than I ever thought possible, visibility-wise. So, as we keep pushing forward for equality in mainstream media, let’s celebrate the 34 queer characters of color who helped usher in one of the most promising years of LGBT TV in history.

Adriana Mendez, The Bridge

FX didn’t renew The Bridge for a third season, but for 26 exciting episodes, Adriana gave Lois Lane a run for her money when it came to investigative reporting.

Arika, Dominion

I don’t want to spoil the dozen surprise plot twists and turns of Syfy’s Dominion, but I will spoil this one: Arika isn’t who she says she is, and that includes the part where she pretends to be into doing it with David Whale (played by Anthony Head Stewart, so: Old Man Giles, basically).

Callie Torres, Grey’s Anatomy

She may have called it quits with Arizona this season, but she’s not calling it quits on being one of the most kickass surgeons at Seattle Grace.

Camilla and Jocelyn, East Los High

This couple surprised us in the very best way on season two of Hulu’s original drama.

Carolyn Hill, Under the Dome

First, her wife died. Then, the Dome’s magnetization caused her house to knock her out. Then, she was almost shot for discovering a stockpile of food and supplies. But Carolyn survived Stephen King’s hellscape, and she’ll be back for season three!

Diana Barrigan, White Collar

USA finally pulled the plug on White Collar this year after a six-episode mini-season, and while the show never gave Diana the screentime she deserved, they also didn’t brutally axe-murder her to further the plot of the three main white guys on the show. Progress!

Emily Fields, Pretty Little Liars

She will go down as one of the most progressive lesbian characters in the history of television. This year, she even scissored a resurrected ghost.

Kalinda Sharma, The Good Wife

Kalinda’s story was on the back burner for many of the early episodes of season six, but she’s back in the thick of things now. She’s even building a relationship with Lana that might actually be serious.

Kay, Marry Me

Tymberlee Hill‘s “soft butch lipstick flannel queen” is the best new original queer character of the 2014-2015 TV season, hands down.

Korra and Asami Sato, The Legend of Korra

It’s canon, y’all.

Lena Adams-Foster, The Fosters

2014 was an emotionally devastating year for Lena, but at least she and Stef finally got rid of that sex-killing hospital bed Annie Potts bought them.

Luisa Alver, Jane the Virgin

Accidentally artificially inseminated the wrong woman because she was in shock that her wife cheated on her? Check. Slept with her step-mom? Check. Tossed into an asylum? Check, check. Luisa lives in Miami, but it might as well be Rosewood.

M-Chuck, Survivor’s Remorse

She’s the sister of an NBA legend in the making, but M-Chuck is the real superstar of her family. She keeps them together. She doesn’t pull punches. And sometimes she makes out with ladies in church.

Max, Black Sails

Max is a sex worker in a brothel in Nassau who finds true love with Eleanor Guthrie for a hot second before things get bad like they always do when pirates come to town.

Nyssa al Ghul, Arrow

The only good thing about Sara Lance getting murdered is it opened the door for Nyssa Al Ghul to finally make her way back to Starling City to settle some scores. She’ll be back in 2015, too, with Flashback Sara at her side!

Poussey Washington, Orange Is the New Black

We cannot get enough of this character, which was easily one of the most beloved of the year.

Renee Montoya, Gotham

A kickass Latina lesbian of color who re-won the heart of the woman who is engaged to the whitest white hero in the history male whitedom. And she did it while taking down bad guys and wearing heels! If you thrive on the tears of fanboys, Gotham is your eternal sustenance.

Santana Lopez, Glee

She won back Brittany. She won Rachel’s Broadway role. And in the (merciful) final season of Glee, she is actually getting gay married. Who’d have thunk it back in season one when she was just a lesbian throwaway joke? Four for you, Santana Lopez. You go, Santana Lopez. (And none for Ryan Murphy bye.)

Shana Fring, Pretty Little Liars

She turned out to be a maniac who died by falling three feet off a theater stage, but at least we still got to see her in flashbacks/the multi-camera funeral her family filmed from different angles and uploaded to YouTube.

Sophia Burset, Orange Is the New Black

Laverne Cox didn’t come close to having enough to do in season two of Orange Is the New Black. She was fierce as hell, but super underused. Season three is going to be her time to shine, we’re sure of it.

Tara Thornton, True Blood

Another casualty of 2014 on another TV show that lasted three seasons past its expiration date. Ah, Tara. You really were too good for this world.

Unique Adams, Glee

There are rumors that Unique’s class of New Directions won’t be back for the final season of the show, but I’ve Stopped Beleivein’ anything about Glee until I see it with my own bleeding eyes.

Reagan, Faking It


There’s a lot to love about this 19-year-old DJ who succeeded in pulling Amy away from her crush on her straight best friend, Karma, like that she’s awesome and a feminist and hot and also that she’s Not Karma.

Kate, Last Tango in Halifax

Thank the gods of Public Television that they brought this show (legally) across the pond for us. Kate and Caroline are one of the sweetest queer couples we’ve seen in ages.

Nenna, Crossbones

The show only lasted a minute, but it was a beautiful minute of Tracy Ifeachor playing a lesbian pirate.

Dr. Jean Fisherman, The Mindy Project

Jean made her entrance with a Sweeps Weeks-style lesbian kiss of a very straight Mindy, but we were willing to overlook it because there was so much to love about her character. Now all we need is more of her.

Brook Soso, Orange Is the New Black

It turns out Piper 2.0 might actually be even nuttier than Original Piper, which always makes for good game on Orange Is the New Black.

Reyna, Matador

Reyna was one of way too many lesbian characters that were murdered on TV this year, but at least El Ray pulled the plug on the show in a moment of sweet comeuppance after the end of the first season.

Natalie, Switched at Birth

In addition to being a woman of color, Natalie is the only deaf lesbian on TV since Marlee Matlin‘s Jodie Learner on The L Word. She refuses to wear a dress to prom, refuses to give up her Prom King crown, and refuses to stop making out with her girlfriend in her school’s hallways. She’s pretty badass.

Lt. Alisha Granderson, The Last Ship

Much like Ming-Na Wen‘s character on Stargate Universe, Lt. Granderson leaves her girlfriend on earth to go do stuff in space. Specifically, she’s looking for a cure for a virus that wiped out 80 percent of the world’s population. So, like Interstallar without Matthew Mcconaughey mansplaining everything the whole time.

Suzanne Warren, Orange Is the New Black

Uzo Aduba deserves every award nomination she’s pulled down for her nuanced, powerful portrayal of Suzanne in Orange Is the New Black‘s second season. She was the highlight in every single way.

Tituba, Salem

Is she canonically queer? Is she not? Let me just quote Rachel here: “I mean, what kind of a world do we want to live in, where we watch someone have gay witch sex and then try to second-guess it?” And there you have it!

Dani, Glee

She only showed up for one episode of Glee in 2014, but she did it in so much style.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


    • I mean, she can be a French person of color. They’re not mutually exclusive. :) The actor who portrays Max, Jessica Parker Kennedy, is mixed race.

      • The irony in this statement (to me) is that I once referred to Troian Bellisario as mixed race, because her mother is black, and another person chewed me out because we “needed to leave the ‘one drop rule’ in the past.”

        I don’t mean to offend about what label people qualify as, but when people tell me one thing, and then people yell at me about the other, I get mixed signals.

        • Life is soooo hard for white people like you, having to learn about racism without having non white spoonfeed you.How do you cope? Us uppity ethnics are always causing trouble for you. Start a support group with Hogan called ‘the oblivious white women club’ and you can badmouthing us to your heart’s content.

        • I’m realizing I mis-spoke here. I don’t know how Kennedy identifies, and I also realize that mixed race is a problematic term. I’m sorry I used it; my point was to counter the idea that the character was either French or a WOC. Others have made that point better below.

    • Beach Boys throw down aside…the actress herself is Canadian, of Italian, Russian, and African descent.

      As for the character of Max, I also was under the impression that she was supposed to be from one of the islands in the area.

      Now please, don’t let me stop the sing-along!

    • I’m pretty sure you can be French and a person of color. According to wikipedia, she’s Canadian and of Italian, Russian, and African descent.

  1. This list is the only “end of the year recap” that I need. Thank you Heather + autostraddle, for keeping track of this for us all year long.

  2. “four for you, Santana Lopez. You go, Santana Lopez. (And none for Ryan Murphy bye.)” I lol’ed very loudly. yes, yes to this.

  3. Since when is Hogan a WoC? Was it intentional to get the whitest woman on this site and most tone deaf in terms of racial issues to write about WoC? You wouldn’t get a man to write about women’s issues or a cis woman to write about trans issues but Qwoc have to put up with a white woman who uses racist terms in her articles writing articles about Qwoc issues. I

  4. In my head Flaca and Maritza are lesbians. I’m always disappointed when I’m reminded that they aren’t. The actresses who play them are just amazing.
    At least Flaca had that beautiful moment with Kourtney Kardashian awhile back…

  5. As excited as I am about this list, I am not excited about the language used in it. Agreed with Flic about using “sex worker” instead of other pejorative terms, like pr*stitute. Also, the ableism in this article isn’t cool—-“maniac”, “nuttier”, etc. are really problematic phrases, and the concepts behind them (that a character was evil or annoying because of mental illness or neurodivergence) are super uncool.

  6. Thank you HH for giving a shit about how queer women and queer women of colour are represented in the media. Doesn’t matter what colour you are.

    • I’m sure you would be saying this if a straight woman had written about queers characters. Or if a man had written about women’s characters. But hey WoC have to put up with white feminist saviours like Hogan who alongside her fan club have no actual idea of what racism is but consider themselves experts because they have read a few tumblr articles.

  7. I’m confused; it appears that the article has been edited to alter some of the problematic words. Is this the case? I don’t see any kind of note to that effect within the text of the article or in the comments, but Max is currently described as a “sex worker” although other problematic terms remain.

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