60 Straight Actresses Who Play Gay The Most

Straight actors who play gay: they’re everywhere. Let’s talk about lesbian roles played by straight actors. As the U.S. vs. Billie Holiday trailer made its way across the internet, questions were raised. Specifically this one: Damn, how many queer characters has Natasha Lyonne played at this point? And there’s nothing I love more in this life than compiling data to answer a question that does not objectively require answering but nevertheless is fun to consider!!

Before we get into this little stats grab, to be clear this is just a compilation of information, not a position, and there are so many positions to have! I personally am not an advocate of “only gay actors can play gay parts.” Do I love it when a gay actor plays a gay part? Hell yeah! Do I celebrate it when a straight actress announces her desire to play a gay part? Hell no! But intellectually, at this point in history when the idea of a fundamental or universal queer experience that would best inform any type of queer role (which can also have its own intersectional identities) grows shakier and less certain, I can’t make a strong argument for it. (However, if the character is gender non-conforming, it is upsetting when the small handful of butch roles that exist go to straight gender-conforming actors while actual masculine-of-center women or otherwise-suited-to-the-role queer people don’t get work!) Do note — this is not the same conversation as the one about trans status! Because yes, only trans actors should play trans parts but trans status and sexual orientation are very different categories. that said, it is really exciting to have more and more out queer actresses actually playing lesbian and bisexual parts.

This list is focused on living actors who do mostly English-language films and shows, just to keep it manageable. A minimum requirement to be on the list was three roles in Film or TV in which at least one of the roles was a lead or otherwise iconic and all three characters were explicitly queer, not just a “kissed a girl” part or a brief guest role. There are actually TONS of actors who’ve done three parts, simply having three parts is not enough okay thank you.


62. Katie McGrath

Lucy Westenra and Lady Jayne pre-kiss

Katie McGrath in Dracula

How Katie McGrath identifies is a mystery because she is a cryptid who isn’t on social media, but she has played on-paper queer in Dracula, Secret Bridesmaids Business, and a very special episode of Dates. And has played questionably-queer in Merlin, Supergirl, and pretty much everything she’s ever played. She also once famously said, “You can’t make a show without lesbianism.” (-Valerie)

61. Nicola Walker

Nicola Walker in "Collateral" sitting on a chair in her vicar outfit

Nicola Walker in “Collateral” (2018)

Nicola is a straight actor who played gay Helen Bartlett in Scott & Bailey, Jane Oliver in Collateral and Lucy in The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders.

60. Shivani Ghai

Shivaani Ghai in "The Catch" (2016 - 2017)

Shivaani Ghai in “The Catch” (2016 – 2017)

Ghai had a regular role on Dominion as the queen of Helena, a recurring role on Batwoman as the queen of the pirate nation of Coryana and a recurring role as the secret lover in The Catch.

59. Brianne Howey

Brianne Howey in "Batwoman"

Brianne Howey in “Batwoman” (2019)

Similarly to D’Elia, Howey is pretty young but is already racking up those! Gay! Roles! Specifically: Kat Rance on The Exorcist, Reagan on Batwoman and Whitney Taylor on Twisted.

58. Sofia Black D’Elia

Sofia Black D'Elia in "Skins"

Sofia Black D’Elia in “Skins” (2011)

What’s interesting about D’Elia is that her body of work is pretty small so far, so it’s interesting that so many of them are GAY. She entered our worlds in the unfortunate US reboot of Skins, playing a lesbian named Tea. She also had gay roles in The Mick and Betrayal.

57. Uma Thurman

Uma Thurman in "The Con Is On"

Uma Thurman in “The Con Is On”

Uma Thurman is very tall, like me. Actually she’s taller than me! Furthermore, gay in Henry & June, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, and The Con is On. 

56. Laura Fraser

Laura Fraser in "Lip Service" (2014)

Laura Fraser in “Lip Service” (2010-2012)

She was a lead in Lip Service before her sudden departure from the program, romances Shelley Conn’s character in Nina’s Heavenly Delights and is the target of a mission to remove lesbians from the army in The Investigator.

55. Rebecca Naomi Jones

Rebecca Naomi Jones in "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll"

Rebecca Naomi Jones in “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” (2015)

A stage actress best known for her roles in American Idiot, Passing Strange and Hedwig and the Angry Inch; she’s also played gay onscreen a lot! For example: she was Gwen in High Maintenance, Davvy O’Dell in Sex & Drugs & Rock and Roll, and played Leah in the Netflix rom-com Someone Great.

54. Sasheer Zamata

Sasheer Zamata in "Woke"

Sasheer Zamata in “Woke” (2020)

You likely recognize her from Saturday Night Live but if you are very lucky you will also recognize her from her gay roles on Woke and The Last OG. This April, she will appear in the ABC sitcom “Home Economics” as the wife of a main character with whom she shares a very tiny apartment.

53. Floriana Lima

Maggie Sawyer in "Supergirl"

Floriana Lima in “Supergirl”

Most notably Maggie Sawyer on Supergirl, Lima also was a gay regular in The Family and a queer FBI liaison in the short-lived Allegiance.

52. Jessica Leccia

A still from "Guiding Light"

Jessica Leccia in “Guiding Light”

Leccia played Natalia Rivera, one half of “same-sex supercouple known as Otalia,” during the end of Guiding Light‘s 72-year run. She then obviously appeared in the Otalia spinoff series Venice, as well as in queer parts in A Million Happy Nows and the indie film Slippery Slope.

51. Salma Hayek

Salma Hayek in "Timecode"

Salma Hayek in “Timecode”

First of all: Frida. We all know about Frida. Second of all: the infamous bisexual / lesbian taco in Sausage Party. Third of all, she is bisexual in Timecode.

50. Michelle Hurd

Michelle Hurd with Captain Picard in "Picard" (2020)

Michelle Hurd in “Picard” (2020)

Although Hurd has played four queer roles, three of them were guest parts: E.R., Witches of East End and Younger. Her biggest queer bang is on Star Trek: Picard, where she plays Raffi Musiker, who has a romantic situation with Seven of Nine. Also I used to see her at the gym a lot and she is even hotter in real life, which is just a general FYI.

49. Anika Noni Rose

Anika Noni Rose as Jukebox in "Power" (2016 - 2017)

Anika Noni Rose in “Power” (2016 – 2017)

Most recently, she changed our lives as Paula Hawthorne in Little Fires Everywhere. Previously she played criminal/police officer Jukebox in Power and was the voice of Lorraine Hansberry in the American Masters TV series documentary.

48. Rachel Weisz

Rachel Weisz touching heads with Rachel McAdams in Disobedience

Rachel Weisz in “Disobedience” (2017)

Rachel Weisz played two iconic lesbian roles back to back in Disobedience and The Favourite and previously did one kinda-queer role (her queer storyline exists in backstory rather than the film’s present-tense, as far as I can tell) in Definitely Maybe.

47. Kyra Sedgwick

Kyra Sedgwick in "The Humbling" (2014)

Kyra Sedgwick in “The Humbling” (2014)

In Losing Chase, she falls for a woman played by Helen Mirren whomst she has been entrusted to care for after her nervous breakdown, In What’s Cooking? she is dating a woman played by Julianna Margliues? In The Humbling she is the ex-girlfriend of the daughter of a friend of the film’s lead character, an aging actor played by Al Pacino? So we are all over the map here.

46. Allison Pill

Allison Pill as Ivy in American Horror Story: Cult. With a teenage female character in a kitchen.

Allison Pill in an apron and button-up shirt in “American Horror Story: Cult” (2017)

Pill played a lesbian with a personality resembling a soft paper plate in American Horror Story: Cult and hooked up with Floriana Lima’s character in The Family. was Harvey Milk’s campaign manager Anne Kronenberg in Milk and Vice President Dick Cheney’s lesbian daughter Mary in Vice.

45. Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates in "Tammy"

Kathy Bates in “Tammy” (2014)

Whats’ the verdict on Kathy Bates’ character in American Horror Story Apocalypse I can’t remember where we landed but I remember feeling that she was GAY but maybe also a robot? Anyhow, Bates was Pearl’s wealthy lesbian cousin Lenore in Tammy, openly gay political operative Libby Holden in Primary Colors (she got an Oscar nom for that one) and Gertrude Stein in Midnight in Paris.

44. Sharon Duncan-Brewster

A still from "Cucumber" of multiple characters in a loft apartment

Sharon Duncan-Brewster in “Cucumber” (2015)

British actress Sharon Duncan-Brewster played one of Jackson’s lesbian Moms in Sex Education, Edith’s on-and-off lover in Years and Years and Maureen in the BBC series Cucumber. She also played a sister in the quarantine theatrical production Stuck With You. She also was in Imagine Me & You and in Bad Girls although somehow she was not queer in either of them, which is unfortunate for us all.

43. Nia Long

Nia Long in "Dear White People"

Nia Long in “Dear White People” (2017)

Long was a problematic bisexual in Dear White People, a queer hippie in If These Walls Could Talk 2, and the girlfriend of Mary McCormick in Broken Hearts Club.

42. Judi Dench

Judi Dench in "Notes on a Scandal" with Cate Blanchett

Judi Dench in “Notes on a Scandal” (2006)

Dame Judi was nominated for an Oscar for playing an old lesbian spinster who is obsessed with a young teacher in Notes on a Scandal, played bisexual novelist Iris Murdoch in Iris and the lesbian aunt in The Shipping News.

41. Cree Summer

Cree Summer in "Queen Sugar"

Cree Summer in “Queen Sugar” (2019)

Her role on Courthouse was groundbreaking as she and her girlfriend on the show were the first-ever recurring Black lesbian characters on network TV in 1995. She voiced Foxxy Love in Drawn Together and played Octavia Laurent in Queen Sugar. She was also the voice of Souki Lou, a guest on The Goode Family.

40. Lisa Ray

Lisa Ray and another actress in "Four More Shots Please!"

Lisa Ray in “Four More Shots Please!” (2020)

In addition to starring in the classic lesbian films I Can’t Think Straight and The World Unseen, Lisa Ray also played a bipolar Bollywood star dating her trainer in Four More Shots Please.

39. Joey Lauren Adams

Joey Lauren Adams in "Chasing Amy" (1997)

Joey Lauren Adams in “Chasing Amy” (1997)

When Chasing Amy debuted in 1997, its portrayal of a lesbian who goes for it with a guy was pretty problematic, but also there was a part where they were on the swings and she was explaining fisting that truly changed my life. Anyhow! She reprised her role in Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, and she dates one of Tara’s many personalities in The United States of Tara. She was involved in a triad with a man and a woman in Harvard Man.

38. Rose Rollins

Rose Rollins in "The L Word" (2009)

Rose Rollins in “The L Word” (2009)

Our beloved Tasha from The L Word appeared in the Girltrash: All Night Long, which featured a few other gay-for-payers: The L Word‘s Kate French as well as Mandy Musgrave and Gabrielle Christian from South of Nowhere. In 2004, she made her gay debut in the TV movie Nikki & Nora. AND ALSO SHE WAS GAY IN BOSCH!!! We are all praying she will also be gay in her new basketball show.

37. Christina Ricci

Christina Ricci and Charlize Theron in "Monster"

Christina Ricci in “Monster” (2003)

Ricci has played a lot of real-life queer people: Aileen Wournos’ girlfriend in Monster, LGBT activist Romaine Patterson in The Laramie Project, adapted from the stage play; and Lizzie Borden in the Lifetime series THe Lizzie Borden Chronicles. She was also a bisexual drama teacher in Australia who hooks up with Ruby Rose in Around the Block. In Now & Then she played the young version of Rosie O’Donnell’s character, Roberta, who was initially written as a lesbian but that whole story was thrown out to increase the film’s mainstream appeal.

36. Melanie Lynskey

Melanie Lynskey with Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Melanie Lynskey with Kate Winslet in Heavenly Creatures (1994)

Lynskey is all up in lesbian cannon with her starring role in Heavenly Creatures and her parts in But I’m a Cheerleader and The L Word. 

35. Mandy Musgrave

Spencer and Ashley in South of Nowhere, wearing tank tops outside

Mandy Musgrave (R) in “South of Nowhere” (2005-2007)

Known and beloved for her groundbreaking role as Ashley Davies of Spashley fame in South of Nowhere, Musgrave went on to play queer in the film Girltrash: All Night Long and a three-episode bit on 90210. She also was featured in two lesbian webseries: Cowboy Up and 3-Way.

34. Penélope Cruz

Penelope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona"

Penelope Cruz in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” (2008)

She won an Oscar for having darkroom sex with Scarlett Johansson in Vicky Christina Barcelona and danced and romanced Charlize Theron in Head in the Clouds. In Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother, she gets pregnant through a relationship with a trans woman and then begins a sex-free Mommi relationship with the trans woman’s ex. She also had a girl-on-girl scene in the 1980s Belgian TV series Elle et lui and the 2006 Spanish music video “Cosas Que Contar” by Eduardo Cruz.

33. Suranne Jones

suranne jones in "gentleman jack"

Suranne Jones in “Gentleman Jack” (2019)

Gentleman Jack herself played a bisexual sex therapist in the six-episode series Strictly Confidential and a no-nonsense bisexual detective investigator in A Touch of Cloth.

32. Piper Perabo

Lena Heady and Piper Perabo in "Imagine Me and You" (2005)

Lena Heady and Piper Perabo in “Imagine Me and You” (2005)

In addition to her very memorable lesbian turns in seminal films Lost and Delirious and Imagine Me & You, she also played a “funky” bisexual blonde who gets hit by a truck in Perception.

31. Sandra Oh

Sandra Oh in "Killing Eve"

Sandra Oh in “Killing Eve” (2018 – )

She’s in love with a killer in Killing Eve, is a pregnant lesbian in Under the Tuscan Sun and is married to Kathy Bates’ character in Tammy.

30. Sarah Shahi

Sarah Shahi in "Guns For Hire"

Sarah Shahi in “Guns For Hire” (2015)

Shahi played two very iconic queer television roles — Carmen De La Pica Morales in The L Word and Shaw in Person of Interest. Then she was in this film Guns For Hire that I’m gonna be honest you guys it looks really bad and if you google “Guns For Hire + Sarah Shahi” you are going to just get a bunch of porn.

29. Lena Headey

Lena Heady in "Band of Gold"

Lena Heady in “Band of Gold” (1995)

Headey played lesbian BDSM-focused sex worker Colette in Band of Gold, Clarissa Dalloway’s ex in Mrs. Dalloway and most legendarily, Luce in Imagine Me & You. She’s also said her “tomboyish huntress” character Angelika in The Brothers Grimm is gay, although that element was not explored onscreen. “I’ve got quite a big gay following,” Lena Headey allegedly said at some point. “I played a lesbian prostitute in the TV series ‘Band Of Gold’ but I think my following really grew when I played one in the film ‘Imagine Me & You,’ with Piper Perabo.” Also she was gay in Possession!

28. Gina Gershon

Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon in "Bound"

Jennifer Tilly and Gina Gershon in “Bound” (1996)

After her iconic role as a soft butch criminal in Bound, Gershon found her lesbian icon status “kind of scary at first [but] then kind of amazing.” She went on to engage in amazing lesbian experiences in the also iconic but for a different reason Showgirls as well as in Prey for Rock ‘n Roll. Gershon also had a small role on Ellen‘s coming out episode.

27. Sherri Saum

Sherri Saum in "The Fosters" (2016)

Sherri Saum in “The Fosters” (2016) (Freeform/Eric McCandless)
SHERRI SAUM

Sherri Saum is of course best known for her lesbian Mom role in The Fosters, which she reprised in Good Trouble, and she also did a lesbian guest spot on Grey’s Anatomy.

26. Breeda Wool

Breeda Wool as Lou Linklatter in "Mr Mercedes"

Breeda Wool as Lou Linklatter in “Mr Mercedes” (2017-)

After her breakout role as a lesbian contestant in a Bachelor parody on UnReal, Breeda starred in a spin-off series centered on her character, The Faith DiariesBut her first gay part was in the lesbian film A.W.O.L. in 2010. Breeda went on to play gay Lou Linklatter in Mr Mercedes and a guest gay part on Strangers. She told Out magazine that to prepare for her role on UnREAL, she watched the (actually very good) L Word Mississippi.

25. Vanessa Redgrave

Vanessa Redgrave in If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000)

Vanessa Redgrave in “If These Walls Could Talk 2” (2000)

She was an elder lesbian mourning the loss of her wife in If These Walls Could Talk 2, Clarissa Dalloway in Mrs. Dalloway, suffragette Olive Chancellor in The Bostonians and was a guest star on “Political Animals” as a lesbian Supreme Court Justice. In 1986 she played trans tennis player Renee Richards in Second Serve.

24. Jodhi May

Jodhi May in "Genetleman Jack" (2019)

Jodhi May in “Genetleman Jack” (2019)

She was Nan’s socialist activist girlfriend in Tipping the Velvet, one of Anne Lister’s exes in Gentleman Jack, played murderous maid Lea Papin in Sister My Sister, has a triad in Sleep With Me, and played Emily Dickinson’s sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert, in A Quiet Passion.

23. Elizabeth Mitchell

Elizabeth Mitchell on "ER"

Elizabeth Mitchell on “ER” (2000-2001)

Most iconically, Mitchell played Gia’s girlfriend in Gia, clawing at a fence to make out with Angelina Jolie and Weaver’s first lesbian girlfriend on ER. She also played gay in Nurse Betty and The Expanse.

22. Shelley Conn

Shelley Conn in "Mistresses"

Shelley Conn in “Mistresses” (2008- 2010)

Conn starred as Nina in British lesbian film Nina’s Heavenly Delights and had regular gay roles as a patient who falls for Sue Perkins’ veterinarian character in Heading Out, “the most shameless of the cheating sirens” in Mistresses and a lesbian DA in Liar.

21. Mariel Hemmingway

Still from Personal Best

Mariel Hemmingway in “Personal Best” (1982)

In 1982, Hemmingway starred in Personal Best, one of the first-ever lesbian films to earn a wide release, and “a revolution for queer female sexuality on the big screen.” Hemmingway participated in the infamous Roseanne kiss of 1994, played a lesbian secret service chief in In Her Line of Fire, has a threesome that leads to a lesbian awakening in The Sex Monster and did a lesbian guest spot on Crossing Jordan.

20. Rooney Mara

Rooney Mara in "Carol" (2015)

Rooney Mara in “Carol” (2015)

She glove lunched in Carol, she tracked a killer of women and got an Oscar nomination in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and then also was queer in the terrible 2017 American experimental romantic musical drama film Song 2 Song. In the very bizarre thriller Side Effects, she has an affair with her counselor, Victoria, with whom she plots to kill her husband.

19. Lili Taylor

Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lili Taylor in "The Haunting"

Lili Taylor in “The Haunting” (1999)

Taylor played the legendary Valerie Solanas in the ’90s indie I Shot Andy Warhol, was a stifled New Jersey housewife who becomes lovers with Courtney Love’s character in Julie Johnson, feels attracted to the bisexual Theo in The Haunting (a 1999 film that everybody hated, same source material as The Haunting of Hill House), is part of a butch-femme couple with Juliette Lewis in Gaudi Afternoon, played gay in Pret-a-Porter and had a gay guest run on The Good Wife.

18. Mena Suvari

Mena Suvari and Caterina Murino in The Garden of Eden (2008)

Mena Suvari and Caterina Murino in The Garden of Eden (2008)

A young Joey Solloway wrote the story arc featuring Mena as a lesbian performance artist who befriends Claire in Six Feet Under. In Hemingway’s Garden of Eden, she created a triad for herself and her husband and another woman. Furthermore and henceforth, she performed as the Black Dahlia in American Horror Story! Oh right and she had lesbian sex in Becks and in Standing Still. “The sexuality of a character, playing gay or straight, has never meant anything to me,” she told NewNowNext. “I see much deeper than that, and that’s also how I go through life.”

17. Lucy Lawless

Lucy Lawless as Xena the Warrior Princess

Lucy Lawless in “Xena the Warrior Princess” (1995 – 2001)

She is XENA THE WARRIOR PRINCESS. When counting her total number of queer roles, I thought I’d forgotten to put her L Word role in the TV database but then i realized her L Word role wasn’t explicitly gay, which was a weird journey for me, because why wouldn’t it be? Why even cast Xena if you’re not going to make her gay?!!?!?! Anyhow, it’s fitting that it was Lawless’s character investigating the death of Kirshner’s character because you know who else dies a lot???! Lucy Lawless characters. Lawless leaned into subtext as Number 3 in Battlestar Galactica, was Ruby in Ash vs The Evil Dead, hooked up with fellow often-gay-for-payer Jamie Murray in Spartacus and was immediately murdered as Isabelle Hartley in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. She also played Xena in Hercules the Legendary Journeys and apparently appeared in a short film produced by Tig Notaro about a lesbian telephone hotline that also starred Kate Moennig, Sandra Bernhard, Clea Duvall and Nicol Panoe? Almost feels like someone is playing a trick on me with that one.

16. Whoopi Goldberg

Three women in a car in a still from "Boys on the Side"

Whoopi Goldberg in “Boys on the Side” (1995)

Whoopi was nominated for an Oscar for her breakout role as Celie in the 1985 adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel, The Color Purple. She then lezzed out as Jane in Boys on the Side (1995) and as a lesbian cop in the 1999 film A Deep End of the Ocean. In 2017, she played Activist and Lesbian Mothers Union co-founder Pat Norman in the miniseries When We Rise. Also: the 2003 Broadway revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom starred Whoopi Goldberg as Ma. She produced a documentary about lesbian comic Moms Mabley for HBO in 2013 and a TV movie about a lesbian custody battle in 2001, in which she played a lawyer. She has been a high-profile supporter of LGBTQ rights and AIDS activism since the 80s and won a GLAAD Vanguard award in 1999.

15. Vanessa Morgan

Vanessa Morgan in "Riverdale"

Vanessa Morgan in “Riverdale” (2016 – )

In addition to Pimp, in which Drew says her character’s sexuality is sort of vague but “definitely feels gay,” Morgan has played some pretty major queer TV roles: Toni on Riverdale, Bird Castro on Finding Carter and Lyria on The Shannara Chronicles. “When people see “bisexual,” they still confuse it with promiscuity, which is so wrong,” she said after being cast as Toni. “So I was so pumped to be the first bisexual on Riverdale and just normalize that for viewers.’

14. Sarita Choudhury

Sarita Choudhury in jessica jones

Sarita Choudhury in “Jessica Jones” (2019)

Choudhury burst onto the scene in the 1994 flick Fresh Kill, playing one of two lesbian Moms raising their daughter in a converted garage on Staten Island. (!!!?!) She did girl-on-girl Kama Sutra things in the 1996 film Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, and had a guest spot as a lesbian who died in Blindspot. In 1997, she turned up in a short by Lisa Cholodenko called “Dinner Party” that won a lot of LGBT film festival awards, although I’m not sure what her role was. (She also worked with Cholodenko in High Art but her character wasn’t gay, she was basically Luce and Greta’s token straight woman friend.) In 2004, she was amongst a cadre of lesbians who sought impregnation the same man in Spike Lee’s She Hate Me, inspiring a line in Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s poem “femme in film stars” in which she recalls having to “sit through She Hate Me for five minutes of Sarita Choudhury.” She also had an affair with Jeri in Jessica Jones.

13. Sandrine Holt

Sandrine Holt as Catherine Rothberg in "The L Word"

Sandrine Holt in “The L Word” (2007)

Holt’s psychologist character on Law & Order SVU was their first recurring queer woman character, and y’all remember her skinny game of Strip Poker with Helena Peabody on The L Word. Other queer roles include The Returned, The Expanse, and a guest spot on Sanctuary.

12. Yolonda Ross

Yolonda Ross in "Stranger Inside"

Yolonda Ross in “Stranger Inside” (2000)

Ross’ gay resume is extensive, beginning with starring in Cheryl Dunye’s Stranger Inside as Treasure, for which she accumulated many awards and nominations. The gay roles did not stop there: she went on to play lesbian rocker Faustus in Shortbus; Whitney Houston’s girlfriend, Robyn Crawford, in Whitney; Ginger in Slippery Slope and a lesbian detective in the gay film noir Kiss Me, Kill Me. AND she had queer roles in the shorts Dani and Alice, Guinevere Turner’s Hung and Happy Birthday. ALSO ALSO ALSO she had been cast to play Wade Dawson on The Farm, the terrible L Word prison spinoff that didn’t get picked up. Luckily I got my hands on enough Farm-related materials to tell you that Wade Dawson was a “cocky and handsome” inmate who is on meds and self-medicates her internal rage with sex.

11. Tracie Thoms

Tracie Thoms as Joanne in "Rent"

Tracie Thoms as Joanne in “Rent” (2005)

Thoms cleaned up the lesbian floor near the end of the ’10s when she appeared as the wife/girlfriend of a main character in 9-1-1 and The First and had a recurring role as a power lesbian TV executive in UnREAL. But to so many queers, she will always be Joanne in the movie version of RENT — a role she reprised on Broadway in July 2008 as part of its final cast (captured on the DVD Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway (2008)) and for RENT at the Hollywood Bowl in August 2010. “I do play lots of lesbians,” Thoms tweeted in 2017. “Proudly, I might add. I did kiss Idina [in Rent.] And Betsy [in Falsettos on Broadway]. And Eden Espinosa [in Rent Filmed Live on Broadway]. And Nicole Scherzy [in Rent in the Hollywood Bowl]. I’m a lucky girl.”

10. Indira Varma

Indria Varma in "This Way Up"

Indira Varma in “This Way Up” (2019)

Varma played the bisexual bastard daughter of a nobleman in Game of Thrones and appeared in the 1996 film Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love, in which a servant and a noble princess grow up together, learn the skills of seduction through the Kama Sutra, and also enjoy sexual activities with each other. Varma also played the lesbian character Charlotte in the Hulu dramedy This Way Up and the malicious Elaine Markham in the 2013 BBC thriller What Remains. In the legal drama For Life she plays Safiya Masry, a prison warden married to a District Attorney played by Mary Stuart Masterson. AND also played gay in the TV show Attachments.

9. Gemma Wheelen

Gemma Wheelan in "Game of Thrones"

Gemma Wheelan in “Game of Thrones” (2012 – 2019)

“Every single thing I do, there’s a lesbian touch to it,” Wheelan told Gay Star News. “Long may I continue to be typecast, if that’s the way it goes.” She has brought her gay touch to playing Yara Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, a lesbian detective in The End of the F*cking World, as well as parts in the BBC comedy Upstart Crow (she was also in the West End stage production of Upstart Crow, which includes a romantic storyline and A WHOLE ENTIRE KISS for Gemma). She was a cross-dresser in BBC4’s Queers and also a lesbian in the BBC One min-series Mapp and Lucia. I also somehow feel like I owe her gay points for being in Killing Eve and Gentleman Jack, despite playing straight characters in both?

8. Jamie Murray

Jamie Murray in "Spartacus"

Jamie Murray in “Spartacus” (2010 – )

Often adorned in a very specific period or otherwise unusual costume, Murray played bisexual time traveler H.G. Wells on Warehouse 13, Gaia in Spartacus and Stahma Tarr in Defiance, as well as a lesbian businesswoman in Ringer and a an arc as a lesbian casino hostess in The Bill. When cast in The Bill, she told The Mirror, “I must have one of those faces. I played a lesbian in a shocking play called Handbag, so by the time I left drama school I’d already kissed three women. Let me tell you, it’s nice than some men I’ve kissed.” Let’s not forget Fright Night 2: New Blood, where she is a vampire who, like all vampires, is pansexual. “It’s an under-representeed demographic and it’s a really loyal fan base and it’s really nice to play those roles without making a big deal about it,” she told the Metro in April 2013.

7. Robin Weigert?

Robin Weigert in "Concussion"

Robin Weigert in “Concussion” (2013)

Robin Weigert’s sexual orientation is a bit of a mystery, so it is anybody’s guess if I should remove this. Weingart starred in lesbian film Concussion, showed up very briefly but gayly in The Politician, fought for her life in Jessica Jones, was nominated for an Emmy for playing Calamity Jane in Deadwood, played Pippa’s kindhearted lesbian aunt in The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (married to Julianne Moore) and also had queer parts on Law & Order and ER as well as in the film Synechdode New York. On an unrelated but somewhat related note, she also has intense therapist vibes (and yes, played one in Big Little Lies).

6. Charlize Theron

Charlize Theron in a sexy outfit dancing in "Head in the Clouds"

Charlize Theron in “Head in the Clouds” (2004)

Theron has expressed her disappointment upon discovering that she herself is woefully heterosexual, but! Charlize is an oft-celebrated ally with a trans daughter. She won an Oscar as serial killer Aileen Wournos in Monster, kicked stuff in a trench coat in Atomic Blonde, casually referenced her bisexuality in Tully, and hooks up with Penelope Cruz in 1930s Paris in Head in the Clouds. In 2020, she played bisexual action hero Andy in The Old Guard, with a slightly-too-subtextual-but-fine relationship with Quynh told in flashbacks. She won the GLAAD Vanguard Award in 2006.

5. Julianne Moore

Annette Beninng and Julianne Moore in "The Kids are All Right" (2010)

Annette Beninng and Julianne Moore in “The Kids are All Right” (2010)

Julianne Moore has played some very big gay parts in some very big gay movies, including lead roles in The Kids Are All Right, The Hours (for which she earned an Oscar nomination), Freeheld and Chloe. In Rebecca Miller’sThe Private Lives of Pippa Lee, she plays Pippa Lee’s aunt’s lover. In 2014’s Maps to the Stars, she played an actress who has a threesome with her boyfriend and a woman they pick up together. She was the “Final Girl” in Gus Van Sant’s 1998 Psycho remake, a role he says was intended to be a lesbian although it is apparently not apparent to the audience.

Last year she told NBC Out, while reflecting on The Kids Are All Right, “Here we were, in this movie about a queer family, and all of the principal actors were straight. I look back and go, ‘Ouch. Wow.’ I don’t know that we would do that today. I don’t know that we would be comfortable.”

4. Mia Kirshner?

Mia Kirshner in "Defiance"

Pictured: Mia Kirshner as Kenya in Defiance (2012)  (Photo by: Ben Mark Holzberg/Syfy)

Kirshner’s sexual orientation is a bit ambiguous although she has only dated men, so I’m not sure Where The Community Stand on this one and was unclear if I should include her here or not. However, I am sure that I will get a lot of feedback on this! (Please do note I am a #1 fan of Mia Kirshner and head of the Emmy For Mia campaign via my podcast To L and Back.) Kirshner has said that sex scenes with women are “more fun and easier.” Obviously Mia shone as Jenny Schecter in The L Word, and also played regular queer roles on The Vampire Diaries, 24 and Defiance. She’s played characters one might describe as ranging from bisexual to heteroflexible in films likeThe Black Dahlia, Not Another Teen Movie, New Best Friend and Exotica. Unfortunately a lot of Mia’s characters end up dead.

3. Chloë Sevigny

Chloe Sevigny in "If These Walls Could Talk 2"

Chloë Sevigny in “If These Walls Could Talk 2” (2000)

Chloë Sevigny has said she is drawn to LGBTQ roles because they are characters who are often “marginalized [and] misunderstood” and outcasts, which she relates to. Memorably, she played an old school butch with a motorcycle in If These Walls Could Talk 2 and Lizzie Borden in Lizzie, which put her in the enviable position of kissing Kristen Stewart with tongue. She recently played a lesbian army Mom in We Are Who We Are. Other queer roles include a guest spot on Will & Grace and parts in Portlandia, Broken Flowers and Party Monster. Although not included in her tally because they aren’t queer roles, she also (unfortunately) portrayed a trans woman in Hit or Miss (which she says she’d “never do again”) and first emerged into the public queer consciousness when she played Lena, Brandon Teena’s girlfriend, in the 1999 tragedy Boys Don’t Cry.

2. Heather Graham

Heather Graham in "About Cherry"

Heather Graham in “About Cherry” (2012)

There are so many pictures on the internet of Heather Graham kissing girls in movies! The only films on this list that I’ve actually seen are Gray Matters and Even Cowgirls Get The Blues — but her lesbian and bisexual resume also includes The Oh in Ohio, Father of Invention, Bowfinger, Terrified, Kiss & Tell, Compulsion, Broken, Boogie Woogie and About Cherry. 

1. Natasha Lyonne

Clea Duvall and Natasha Lyonne in "But I'm a Cheerleader" (1999)

Clea Duvall and Natasha Lyonne in “But I’m a Cheerleader” (1999)

Here is our number one woman and it is also where this whole list began. The conversation has been HAD in MANY locations in recent weeks as the U.S. vs Billie Holliday trailer has caused many queer women to pause and ask, how many gay things has this woman been gay in???  Recently in my group chat a question was posited: why does Natasha Lyonne play so many gay parts, yet somehow is not gay? I do not know the answer to this question, besides that she is always vaguely messy and has a deep voice, which I guess screams “gay” to some people. Her most iconic lesbian roles occurred in But I’m a Cheerleader and Orange is the New Black. Other adventures in queer behavior include the films Sleeping With Other People, American Reunion, Intervention, Modern Vampires, Freeway 2, If These Walls Could Talk 2, and Addicted to Fresno.


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Riese is the 39-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2857 articles for us.

170 Comments

    • when I was narrowing it down I had a handful of ppl who had 3 roles where two were regulars and one was a guest spot, and I think ended up having to axe some of ’em in favor of actors whose roles were all lead or regular or recurring and it looks like one of her parts was just a one-episode thing. but i could be persuaded to add her!

      maybe there’s a film role i’m not aware of?

  1. I think in the last American Pie movie, American Reunion Natasha’s character Jessica was proudly out & in a relationship with woman.

    I for years searched to see if Mia Kirshner is queer or not but never could. I remember watching Exotica when season 3 of the L Word was out cause my friend knew I was into her. I remember watching it wishing her character was queer but ending up disappointed. Was her character queer & I am misremembering it?

  2. wow Catherine Keener erasure! (kidding) but she does have a serious case of gay voice and has played kinda gay in Being John Malkovich (opposite Cameron Diaz), and in the short-lived tv show Forever and also has an affair with Nastassja Kinski in Your Friends and Neighbors (1999). plus she is the sister of noted actual lesbian and L word actress Elizabeth Keener aka Dawn Denbo.

      • ok i am considering and these are my questions:

        1. ok so… forever… i feel like they weren’t explicit about it, were they? i just remember ppl categorizing it as a queer love story and then when i watched it i was like… really? this is all they’re giving us? in this economy?

        2. i haven’t seen being john malkovich since it was in theaters, so explain the “kinda gay” thing to me

        3. the incredibles 2 – i actually wasn’t really looking at animated roles here tbh, but yeah tell me more, is this official or just a feeling

        • haha thank you for the inquiry!
          1. in keeping with the tone and theme of Forever, the relationship between the two women is ambiguous, but Maya Rudolf does abandon her husband for Keener, which points to gay.
          2. Being John Malkovich is similarly convoluted, but basically Cameron Diaz impregnates Keener (by proxy) and the two raise the baby together.
          3. this one is just Vibes tbh!

          • I’m chiming in here to say Catherine Keener and Cameron Diaz are totally properly gay for each other in Being John Malkovich!

            This is definitely the case because I do not accept lesbian subtext as a form of payment in my establishment.

          • Being John Malkovich deserves extra points because the queer women outwit a mediocre man who wants to exploit them and then revel in his misery. It’s my favourite entry in the category of queer love stories in movies made by and marketed to straight people.

  3. I am here for this data!

    In particular I am thrilled to discover that Jaime Murray was in The Bill, truly the dowdiest of all genre-slash-soapish shows in British TV history. Thank you for digging out this nugget Riese!

  4. Opening this article, I did not expect to see Nicola Walker, but bloody hell she’s great isn’t she? Also, whilst it isn’t totally acknowledged, her character Gillian in Last Tango in Halifax is gay af and I may have more than once had dreams of what I’d let her do to me up against a dry stone wall.

    • Nicola Walker is becoming one of those actresses where I will watch whatever she is in because of the high chance that her character will be gay OR she will just play it in a way where you assume she’ll become gay eventually. I really think that’s the hallmark of the elite level gay-for-pay actors.

      So totally agree that Gillian from Last Tango is super gay but I cannot comment about that stone wall situation or its long-term chances of remaining dry.

    • Walker’s character Gillian in LTIH certainly SHOULD have been gay, but somehow wasn’t. Even though the final shot of her character (spoilers) is with Caroline in a lesbian bar (“women’s disco”), she’s just gone there w/ Caroline as friendly support. This still pisses me off.

  5. Jes Macallan! With her current role in Legends of Tomorrow and then Mistresses…I feel like there’s more I’m forgetting. I saw an interview her where she said she’s always getting cast in queer roles because she’s tall and has a deep voice. And she’s great at it!

    • Wasn’t the upshot of that Mistresses storyline that she’s actually straight? Admittedly, it’s been a while since I saw it. And kind of a grey area, I guess.

      She was also in the infuriatingly-named “Femme Fatales”; I don’t know the specifics, but I don’t remember too many of the Femmes being straight.

  6. Wait, is Cate Blanchett not straight? I totally expected to see her on the list.

    Also, someone above mentioned Mary Stuart Masterson and I just needed to publicly swoon. She’s my “you really didn’t know, huh?” Probably should have understood some things about my teenage self.

  7. I love these lists!
    Lena Headey also thanklessly played gay in Possession.
    Gina Gershon I think may have also played gay on Ellen.
    Robin Weigert also in ER, The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and Synechdoche New York
    Heather Graham also in The Oh in Ohio, Father of Invention and Bowfinger
    Natasha Lyonne also in Sleeping with Other People and American Reunion

    Additions:
    Lili Taylor – I Shot Andy Warhol, The Addiction, Pret-a-Porter, Julie Johnson, The Haunting, Gaudi Afternoon, The Good Wife
    Mariel Hemingway – Personal Best, In Her Line of Fire, Sex Monster, Roseanne, SNL, Crossing Jordan

  8. I squeaked a little too loudly when Elizabeth Mitchell showed up in the Expanse, and my partner (who wasn’t familiar with her) then had to put up with a 10-minute rant on how I’ve watched almost every Mitchell show – I even watched V the 2009 TV series dammit.

    So when Sandrine Holt showed up in THIS season of the expanse, I screamed. My partner was a bit more prepared this time.

    It’s just icing on the cake that both Mitchell and Sandrine play [loving, relatively well adjusted] queer characters on the Expanse. If they bring Sarita Choudury in the future seasons, my early 2000s queer circle will be complete.

  9. Ooh a few more who have 3:
    Alison Pill – AHS, Milk, The Family and The Backseat

    Annette Benning – Running With Scissors, The Kids Are Alright, 3 Generations

    Carly Pope – Dirt, Itty Bitty Titty Committee, Popular

    Christina Ricci – Monster, Around the Block, The Laramie Project, Pan Am

    Emily Blunt – My Summer of Love, Sunshine Cleaning, The Simpsons (not explicit but it was a tribute to Heavenly Creatures, so)

    Famke Janssen – Eulogy, Nip/Tuck, How to Get Away With Murder

    Glenn Close – Serving in Silence, Will & Grace, Albert Nobbs (the latter being more of a trans male role but the film left it kind of open)

    Jodhi May – Sister My Sister, Tipping the Velvet, Sleep With Me

    Joey Lauren Adams – Chasing Amy, Harvard Man, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, United States of Tara

    Judi Dench – Iris, The Shipping News, Notes on a Scandal

    Kate Winslet – Iris, Holy Smoke, Heavenly Creatures, Ammonite

    Kathy Bates – Primary Colors, Midnight in Paris, Tammy

    Katrina Phillips – But I’m a Cheerleader, Stranger Inside, Hung, Beyond Lovely

    Kyra Sedwick – What’s Cooking, Losing Chase, The Humbling

    Laura Dern – Ellen, Happy Endings, Inland Empire

    Laura Fraser – The Investigator, Nina’s Heavenly Delights, Lip Service

    Mary Louise Parker – Boys on the Side, Fried Green Tomatoes, Les Passages, When We Rise

    Rachel Weisz – Definitely Maybe, Disobedience, The Favorite

    Sandra Oh – Killing Eve, Under the Tuscan Sun, Tammy

    Sarah Shahi – The L Word, Person of Interest, Guns for Hire, she may have also had a queer kiss on Life

    Selma Blair – Cruel Intentions, Feast of Love, Happy Together

    Uma Thurman – Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Henry and June, The Con is On

    Vanessa Redgrave – If These Walls Could Talk 2, Julia, Mrs Dalloway, Political Animals

    • Love that finally someone mentions Mary Louise Parker because I love her and love that she plays so many queers. She plays gay in Red Sparrow too (really my only reason I watched this movie) and she had a short gay for stay lesbian relationship in Weeds – But I always thought she portrait Nancy pretty queer the whole time. So there is that.
      That’s my first comment here because I really needed to get that out of my system.
      And in my dreams MLP and I are in a happy and healthy relationship…ok bye.

    • ok digging into this! PART ONE

      Alison Pill – AHS, Milk, The Family and The Backseat
      — noted! —

      Annette Benning – Running With Scissors, The Kids Are Alright, 3 Generations
      — annette benning wasn’t in 3 generations

      Carly Pope – Dirt, Itty Bitty Titty Committee, Popular
      — i can’t find anything about Carly Pope’s character being queer in Popular, tell me more

      Christina Ricci – Monster, Around the Block, The Laramie Project, Pan Am
      — I watched Pan Am and have it in the database but I don’t have Ricci as being someone who played a queer character in it, there’s just one queer woman and it’s not her, so tell me more!

      Emily Blunt – My Summer of Love, Sunshine Cleaning, The Simpsons (not explicit but it was a tribute to Heavenly Creatures, so)
      — mmmm yeah the simpsons wouldn’t be explicit or non-guest-starry enough to rank. there are lots of people with 3 credits that i didn’t include on similar grounds cuz otherwise the list would be 500 names long!

      Famke Janssen – Eulogy, Nip/Tuck, How to Get Away With Murder
      — she was trans on Nip/Tuck but as i remember it, straight?

      Glenn Close – Serving in Silence, Will & Grace, Albert Nobbs (the latter being more of a trans male role but the film left it kind of open)
      — same re: being trans

      Jodhi May – Sister My Sister, Tipping the Velvet, Sleep With Me
      — have added!! also she was in gentleman jack i learned today. also wow sister my sister, did not know that particular story had been made into a film hooo boy

      Joey Lauren Adams – Chasing Amy, Harvard Man, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back, United States of Tara
      — yes will add!

      Judi Dench – Iris, The Shipping News, Notes on a Scandal
      — thank you will add

      Kate Winslet – Iris, Holy Smoke, Heavenly Creatures, Ammonite
      — in Holy Smoke does this go beyond her just making out with a girl? regardless will add!

    • PART TWO also Sonya you’re the best I love to find somebody with a similarly encyclopedic approach to life

      Kathy Bates – Primary Colors, Midnight in Paris, Tammy
      — noted will add!

      Katrina Phillips – But I’m a Cheerleader, Stranger Inside, Hung, Beyond Lovely
      — In BIAC her character is the one who says she’s not gay for real actually! I remember that bc i thought it was a cool choice to be like, hey not all masc women are gay. I will debate this one in my head cuz also she had a very small role in Hung and Beyond Lovely is a short (I mentioned shorts in some of the descriptions just as extra gay cred info but didn’t count them as one of the qualifying three)

      Kyra Sedgwick – What’s Cooking, Losing Chase, The Humbling
      — wow just read the descriptions for Losing Chase and What’s Cooking and kind of want to see both of them, then read the description for The Humbling and would like to get hit by a train, anyhow will add

      Laura Dern – Ellen, Happy Endings, Inland Empire
      — will debate since Ellen was such a small lil part so normally it wouldn’t count BUT it was also iconic, so

      Laura Fraser – The Investigator, Nina’s Heavenly Delights, Lip Service
      — noted will add

      Mary Louise Parker – Boys on the Side, Fried Green Tomatoes, Les Passages, When We Rise
      — noted will add, also i feel like she was a little bit queer in Weeds?

      Rachel Weisz – Definitely Maybe, Disobedience, The Favorite
      — ok will investigate

      Sandra Oh – Killing Eve, Under the Tuscan Sun, Tammy
      — noted will add!

      Sarah Shahi – The L Word, Person of Interest, Guns for Hire, she may have also had a queer kiss on Life
      — wow had no idea that Guns for Hire existed, will add!

      Selma Blair – Cruel Intentions, Feast of Love, Happy Together
      — i feel like she’s not actually gay in Cruel Intentions it’s just a kiss?

      Uma Thurman – Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Henry and June, The Con is On
      — just read the description of “the con is on” on wikipedia and I think it was written by a small child but also wow, this movie happened, noted and will add

      Vanessa Redgrave – If These Walls Could Talk 2, Julia, Mrs Dalloway, Political Animals
      — noted and will add!

      truly … cannot believe how many movies got made and produced and ushered into the world and we were none the wiser

      • Thank you Riese, truly I feel I was born for this!

        Annette Benning – I have no idea where 3 Generations came from, clearly my list is imperfect!
        Carly Pope – now that I think about it, I recall Ryan wanted to make her relationship with another girl canon in the second series that never happened
        Christina Ricci – maybe not a gay role exactly but she kissed a woman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9Hi84uePPE
        Famke & Glenn – yes you’re right, both characters trans and straight so not for this list
        Kate Winslet – it’s just a makeout but it was a fun!
        Katrina Phillips – yes of course she was the straight one! I was probably giving her credit by association for this film
        Kyra Sedgwick – Losing Chase was fine, What’s Cooking was pretty nice. I haven’t seen The Humbling
        Laura Dern – yes she was Ellen’s inspiration for realizing she was gay! Admittedly, queerness is pretty minor in Inland Empire from memory, but it was an amazing film.
        Rachel Weisz – in Definitely Maybe she’s casually the ex of Elizabeth Banks, and one of them sets Ryan Reynolds up with the other!
        Selma Blair – if you want to get technical about it, true. It was a very important kiss in my girlfriend’s life.

          • That’s my memory too and a quick google seems to confirm that MLP wasn’t gay in Boys on the Side. She was the doomed straight crush.

          • I thought I remembered her later expressing love for Whoopi’s character in a way that seemed gay, but upon further research it was friendship.

  10. I had to google this memory to verify it, but Gemma Whelan *also* stars alongside Natacha Karam in in a really tiny release short VR film, Keyed Alike, in which I’m *pretty* sure she’s queer.

  11. Glad to see Jaime Murray on this list because it feels like 70% of her work is gay or subtextually gay.

    BUT WHEN WILL I SEE HER BACK ON MY TV KISSING WOMEN?

    Someone plz hire Jaime Murray for something gay, for my sake. (Warehouse 13 movie plz?)

    • oh and re:me, a lot of it is simply in my head because we are so often listing things and i have made so many film/tv lists over the years.

      but also i built a database to keep track of every gay character on every u.s.-released television show ever that we all use here, i looked at the lezwatchtv database for U.K shows since not all of those are in our database. we also have a lot of movie lists that we’ve done that i referenced, and there’s this site called the encyclopedia of lesbian movie scenes that hasn’t been updated in 5-6 years but it’s like started by a guy who uh, loves lesbian scenes? so good for him and thank him for his service.

      Drew also has a personal database of all the films she’s seen and a similarly encyclopedic brain so I consulted with her a lot also.

      annnnnd also i have developed intense film/tv gaydar over the years? it’s very weird and only useful for one specific career (this one). so if i knew someone had been in 2-3 things already i would look at their imdb and try to suss out what else might be gay

      i am TRULY delighted to hear that sonya also collects data of this nature

  12. I love What’s Cooking?!

    Or at least I did 15 years or so ago when I first saw it. I hope it holds up at least a little. Julianna Margulies and Kyra Sedgwick playing a couple in a comedy type movie was all my little heart wanted back then.

  13. Literally the whitest most, colorist list ever. There’s really no excuse, I would’ve appreciated and respected a little more than Whoopi Goldberg – as “the” token black to diversity this extremely white-centered list. way to be inclusive.

    • Yes you’re right, it is very white! I do feel like this list, like all entertainment lists, reflects a legacy of whiteness in LGBTQ film and tv but also in film and TV, period? In LGBTQ+ film/television specifically, we have started to recently see changes in this trend, but broader history of systematic racism in Hollywood has made it difficult for any straight poc actress to have 3+ queer roles under their belt. To your example, Whoopi Goldberg isn’t here as a diversity token, she’s here for the same reasons as everyone else — she’s an ostensibly straight actress who has over the course of her career played at least three queer roles.

      My initial draft of this list was very white, and I know that’s not unrelated to me being white, so pre-publication I went back through our TV database and checked the IMDB pages of every straight poc actor with 2 roles to find a third role, which added a few more names to the list prepublication, although clearly not many.  

      That said, there are many poc actresses with at least two regular/recurring TV or film roles at the moment, including many Black actresses specifically — Viola Davis, Lynn Whitfield, Aisha Hinds, Christina Moses, Sherri Saum, Uzo Aduba, Freema Agyeman, JoNell Kennedy, Kandyse McClure, Sasheer Zamata, Erica Ash, Adriyan Rae, Florence Kasumba, Gabrielle Dennis, Nia Long, Rukiya Bernard, Marsha Thomason, Judy Reyes, Jessica Szohr and Claudia Logan, to name a few. I hope this is a reflection of broader industry changes that will make a difference on “silly” lists like this in the near future!

      I realize that every name I’ve added to the list in response to a reader suggestion post-publication, with the exception of Sarah Shahi and Lisa Ray, has been white, which is exponentially worsening the problem. If there were this many white actors I missed, then it’s clear there are likely many POC actors I missed as well, and I’ll put some time today into adding more POC actors to the list.

    • I felt the urge to mention Sally Hawkins and Mackenzie Davis, but I’m still holding out hope that neither is actually confirmed straight…!

      Also, I’m genuinely convinced that Robin Weigert is for sure queer. Same with Kim Dickens.

    • I felt the urge to mention Sally Hawkins and Mackenzie Davis, but I’m still holding out hope that neither is actually confirmed straight…!

      Also, Robin Weigert just can’t be straight. I refuse to accept that. Same with Kim Dickens.

      Oh, and Mia Kirshner ABSOLUTELY deserved all the awards for her L Word performance — even if her character was maligned. Her acting was absurdly good.

  14. I’m also trying to find 3 roles for some of the WOC Riese mentioned had two…

    Nia Long – Broken Hearts Club, If These Walls Could Talk and Dear White People

    ….

    Kerry Washington is another actress where I can find two but hopefully I’m missing one – She Hate Me and Little Fires Everywhere

    Same with Gugu Mbatha Raw – San Junipero and Summerland

    Bianca Lawson – Pretty Little Liars and For the People

    Archie Panjabi – The Good Wife and Personal Affairs

    Sheetal Sheth – I Can’t Think Straight and The World Unseen

  15. How about Sherri Saum?
    Same lesbian in two series, The Fosters and Good Trouble
    Bisexual in Limetown
    Lesbian guest role on Grey’s Anatomy
    plus some kind of genderless alien on Agents of SHIELD

  16. Only because other bisexual characters were mentioned, how was it missed that Lucy Lawless as Lucretia in Spartacus was bisexual? The Warrior Princess is my favorite role of hers, but that is a close second

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