15 Brand New Queer Lady Teevee Characters Defying Expectations This Summer

From time to time this summer, it’s felt like the television goddesses might be really looking out for us. Orange is the New Black has more queer female characters than any American hour-long ensemble show since The L Wordfor starters, and that’s really just for starters. The Fosters, which had all the potential to be watered-down prime-time pedantic family fare, is this summer’s sleeper success, and everybody seems to introduce it into conversation by tentatively offering “So I’ve been really into The Fosters, actually?” I mean, nobody’s even up-in-arms that apparently something terrible happened to Naomi and Emily on Skins: Fire(I’ve avoided all spoilers and have taken the advice to skip watching it, so I’ve got no clue what this terrible thing actually is.) Let’s gaze at these brand-new gay faces, shall we?

15 Queer Characters and 1 Probably-Queer Female Character of Spring/Summer 2013

16. Samira Wiley as Poussey in “Orange Is the New Black”


The thing about Poussey is that she’s yet to declare a lesbian allegiance. But she’s gay right? Probably? In one of the earlier episodes, she mentions how a girl in a magazine has nice legs, so… plus we all have crushes on her so it must be true.

15. Jess Macallan as Josslyn in “Mistresses”


She’s decided to take the plunge with Alex! We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this lesbian storyline keeps coming and coming, but so far it’d seem that ABC is not paying attention to how crossed our fingers are. So maybe we should just uncross them and fingerbang.

14. Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman on “Orange is The New Black”


Whether you love her, hate her or love to hate her, you’re gonna watch every episode of Orange is The New Black like 47 times.

13. Aeriél Miranda as Shana on “Pretty Little Liars”


Because Pretty Little Liars exists in this weird parallel universe where school is almost and never in session and there are no seasons, it’s totally probably that a lezzie breast-stroke fan would transfer to Rosewood mid-year to join the swim team, ensuring a semi-permanent presence on the program.

12. Shane as Lena on “Ray Donovan”


Ray Donovan is a really bad show about broody men who cover up the gross things done by other broody men. But then there’s Kate Moennig and she’s playing gay again, yay! (Pro Tip: Her part is not substantial enough to justify actually watching this show.) What this show needs is to bring Alice Pieszecki on as Shane’s humorous sidekick.

11. Madeline Brewer as Tricia Miller on “Orange Is the New Black”


Oh Tricia! Tricia with your terrible cornrows and your tender earnest heart. You beat on forever in our bosoms.

10. Tatiana Maslany as Cosima Niehaus in “Orphan Black”


Personally, if I was in the cloning business, I’d make all of them lesbians. But just one dorky nerdy lesbian in fisting/lab gloves will do for now.

9. Teri Polo as Stef Foster on “The Fosters”


It’s time for Meet The (Gay) Parents, and this one looks positively smashing in uniform, when lecturing her children, or when casting lusty gazes towards her wife Lena.

8. Uzo Aduba as Suzanne Warren in “Orange Is The New Black”


SHE’LL THROW HER PIE FOR YOU. What else do you need from a lady? Okay okay: she’s hot and she can sing. There you go.

7. Lea DeLaria as Big Boo in “Orange Is The New Black”


Holy fuck, it’s a butch lesbian played by an actual butch lesbian and it’s on the actual television! It’s all really happening! What will they think of next? (Hiring Julie Goldman, we hope.)

6. Shannyn Sossamon as Alex on “Mistresses”


At first you might not even notice that it’s your #1 crush Shannyn Sossamon playing Alex, ’cause she’s so demure and conservative and wears sunddresess and usually Shannyn has an alternative lifestyle haircut and some kind of aggressive piercing or clothing situation. But not here! Here she is Alex and she is a lesbian. Ta-da!

5. Natasha Lyonne as Nicky Nichols on “Orange Is The New Black”


Playing gay in But I’m a Cheerleader wasn’t enough for Natasha Lyonne, whose wisecrackingly hilarious Nichols has re-warmed us all to Lyonne forever and ever amen.

4. Bex Taylor-Klaus as Bullet in “The Killing”


As a Salon.com writer who doesn’t forget to watch this show every week like I do wrote in The Killing’s breakout character is a butch teenage girl: “Bullet is not a character you see on TV very often: She’s a teenage lesbian, very butch, the sides of her head shaved, her dark hair coming down in a hank toward her eyes… Bullet is smart and competent and generous and tough — or she certainly wants to be seen as tough… She takes a macho, protective attitude toward the other girls in her life…  She is bossy and pugnacious and, despite living for years on the street, still burns with the conviction that some things just are not fair — so not fair she has to try and change them.”

3. Laura Prepon as Alex Vause in “Orange is The New Black”


I feel like a lot of you people wanna have sex with this character. I don’t know, it’s just an impression I get.

2. Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset in “Orange Is The New Black”


A lady-loving transgender woman of color? Yes, please! Sophia Bursett is resilient, strong and funny; delivering some of the show’s most hilarious and most heart-wrenching moments. Laverne Cox also got the chance to work with her twin brother — he plays the pre-transition Sophia in Episode Three’s flashbacks.

1. Sherri Saum as Lena Adams in “The Fosters”


Do you wish Lena was your Mom or your wife? I know, it’s hard to figure out sometimes. Just stay calm and watch The Fosters forever, and welcome to a brand new day for lezzer television.

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, 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. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3229 articles for us.


  1. Okay, you just convinced me to watch Orphan Black. I keep hearing how good it is, but nobody ever mentioned the gayness! Sheesh.

    • Also pretty much the only show who dares to use the big bad B word. Not in a super weird ex-lesbian-not-straight-bi-erasing-hybrid kind of way (I’m looking at you Orange Is The New Black) but by literally saying it:
      “Oh I know, sexuality is a spectrum but I never thought about bisexuality for myself. But hey, you are very cute and so are your glasses, I will give it a try.” Or something along those lines.

      And my jaw dropped.

      *bi feels*

    • I just want everyone to watch Orphan Black! It is a show about ladies looking out for ladies, and how they can be strong in all sorts of different ways, and queerness, all rolled up in a constantly-surprising plot. I’m super obsessed.

  2. THANK GOD Lena is number one on this list. She is actually my favorite television character in the entire world. This week’s episode of The Fosters made me a MESS (worst for being on one’s period. TMI? TMI).

    Also Cosima though is so sweet. If she dies…omg I am going to lose it. I was going to say I would mourn the loss of that actress and then I remembered that Tatiana plays EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER on that show.

    • Haha, I’m constantly forgetting Tatiana plays all the clones too.

      AND I LOVE THIS LIST. I’m a bit obsessed (read: utterly obsessed) with Poussey’s face, I want to watch the Killing now and yes to Sophia and Steph and Lena and Cosima! Yes to everyone. I was just thinking earlier how wonderful it is to have so many queer ladies on TV. Also, did anyone watch the latest Adventure Time episode? I need to squee about Bubbline to someone!

  3. I feel like maybe I should have my toaster revoked or something because I have precisely zero feels for Vause. Weird?

  4. I’ve been hearing good things about Orphan Black, but no one mentioned the gay…now that I know it’s their I may just have to take a gander.
    I love all of the Orange is the New Black characters on here.

    • As someone who started watching when it was airing (because yay science fiction), the gay was a lovely surprise!

  5. great list. love the fosters. until I get Netflix, I am not able to watch OITNB..and ive heard amazing reviews and it has a strong female cast. gifs on tumblr will have to do for now I guess.

  6. Yes, Cosima! Can’t get enough of hot nerdy lady loving ladies. Even the other clones agree that she’s the hottest clone.

    • Except I think Alison thinks she is the hottest clone. And judging by her ass in those yoga pants, I’m often inclined to agree. Except they all have the same ass, but hers is the one most often clad in ass-enhancing synthetic fabric.

  7. Perfect list is perfect. Cosima and Lena are my favorites out of this bunch, but I also have a significant amount of Alex Vause feelings. Mostly about how I want to have sex with her.

  8. re. Alex Vause: You don’t say??

    I would marry Cosima in a heartbeat, but only if I could have Alex as my mistress. Well, our mistress. :)

  9. Yay it’s on my Netflix I hardly use. Where have I been? Geesh this going back to school thing for a Master’s while working is cramping my style.

  10. Awesome list! It really has been a great spring/summer for us TV-wise. And besides all the new characters Emily and Paige have been better than ever in my opinion.

    About the list though, I’m not happy with how they treated Bullet. I thought it was cheap. Oh and I have seen a LOT of outrage about Skins Fire. Even Heather Hogan is mad and you don’t see that often.

      • Skins has been good but the Emily/Naomi situation made me so so sad. I haven’t watched any since then, but I probably will because I love British drama and Effy is kind of my (anti)hero.

      • Skins Fire was good, it’s just that the storyline was sad. The acting was great though, and I would recommend watching.

  11. People should definitely be watching Orphan Black, queerness aside, it’s hard not fall in love with every single one of Tatiana Maslany’s performances as all of the clones on that show. I’m still pissed she got snubbed by the Emmy’s. I don’t see any of those other actresses playing like 8 completely different nuanced characters.

    Everyone should be watching Orange is the New Black too. So many great characters on that show. Gay and straight.

    I also love Stef and Lena and want them to be my moms.

  12. *I’m on a self-diagnosed “Orange withdrawal syndrome”
    *When I read a few days back about how Laverne’s twin brother played pre-transition Sophia, I was so happy, it was just magical <3
    *Please be gay, Please be gay, Please be gay, Please be gay… I'm gonna chant / pray this until Poussey pleads allegiance to us! :)

  13. I am so happy that Lena+Sophia were the top of this list. Not that it really is a contest (we are all winning here) but I am just grateful to see my intense feelings validated

  14. Yay my three favourites, or rather the three I am most hot for from OITNB. Nicky! Big Boo! and Vause…bites lip

  15. Although I hoped you would write about Skins Fire to read your (and everyone’s) thoughts on it and to vent my incoherence, a few days after the second part aired I figured you wouldn’t, either because you had skipped it or because you watched it but refused to give it the satisfaction of being written about. It makes a lot of sense to skip Fire but, still, I don’t regret having seen the terrible thing. Although, on the other, non-masochistic hand, I profoundly regret it.

    In conclusion, I think Samira Wiley’s face is the most beautiful face in the vast gathering of beautiful faces that is Orange is a Long Title. Same goes for Tatiana Maslany and all her faces in Orphan Black.

  16. We all know Poussey (I don’t know how to add the accent a droite bitch) has a huge lesbian crush on Taystee. I hope this all plays itself out in decidedly adorable ways in season 2.

    Also in regards to “Orphan Black,” we should put up some pictures of Delphine and her hair, and also her white tank top and her puppy dog face.

    I plan on marathoning “The Fosters” soon… but I think I would much rather prefer if someone just made a supercut of every time Lena and Stef are on screen. Preferably together.

  17. I’m still so obsessed with Orange; basically I’m annoying the hell out of my friends with emails like “did you watch the chicken one yet?!”

    I think I hate Mistresses almost as much as I love OITNB. Joss & Alex aren’t too bad, but I just can’t get over the name of the show.

  18. Just worked out how to get Netflix from Australia for OINTB, but The Fosters isn’t on there! Ahh i need this show in my life, immediately.

  19. So I just started watching mistresses because of this list. I just need to get it out there that Alyssa Milano looks seriously hot – how is she 40?!

  20. Okay, cool. So I’m not the only one who has noticed that women who like women are everywhere on teevess!

    I’m personally obsessed with the Joss/Alex ship. Mostly because I have always had a crush on Shannyn Sossamon. And she’s just so unbelievably sweet in this role as Alex… my heart just melts every time she speaks on Mistresses. And like her, I totally see the appeal of the character of Joss. Even if they don’t work out in the long-run they’re cute for now. I think it’s important to note that Alex is the first time Joss has EVER wanted to commit in her life. So that’s something.

    Also Aeriél Miranda is my next crush and if I were Emily, I would be all over it, but I think Emily should relax. She gets a new love interest every few months because of something tragic.

    Lastly, I’ve never seen Oprhan Black but that actress looks like Whitney from TRLW.

    • “Lastly, I’ve never seen Oprhan Black but that actress looks like Whitney from TRLW.”

      As that particular character, maybe. But she plays a dozen different characters on that show and they all have different looks(and accents sometimes) to set them apart. The show is about a set of clones.

      • I see. I think what I meant to say is that I think the locks on her are ridiculously gorgeous.

  21. “plus we all have crushes on her so it must be true.”
    It must be. Please?

    Also, Tricia makes my heart melt in so many ways.

  22. “fisting/lab gloves”


  23. I know it makes no sense to have a favorite clone when they’re all played by the same actor, but I could literally Google image Cosima Niehaus ALL day

    • It totally makes sense to have a favorite clone, even though they’re all played by the same actress. That’s what makes her performances so brilliant.

  24. Orange is the new black & Orphan black are the best new shows of 2013 hands down! I watched both seasons in one sitting each… No regrets.

  25. If television has taught me anything over the years, it’s that any girl named Alex is a lesbian.

  26. I’m on episode 5 of Orphan Black and I hate myself because I want to binge-watch it like I did with OITNB but I also want to take it slow because damn June (?) 2014 is a long time to wait for Season 2. #ambivalent
    Anyway going back, I love how Tatiana plays every. single. fucking. role so effing well especially Cosima. Cosima, Cosima – my dear hot science nerdy. OMG when she talks and I don’t really follow what she says – no shame, she has this awesome vibe. Can’t wait to see how her story with Delphine plays out. Whoopsie, long comment is long. LOL “stick to the science!”
    *Watch Orphan Black and Orange is the new black! :)

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