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"Top LGBTQ+ Television Shows of All Time: From Tipping the Velvet to Top of the Pops – Share Your Favorites!"
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“Top LGBTQ+ Television Shows of All Time: From Tipping the Velvet to Top of the Pops – Share Your Favorites!”

Top of the Pops

Week after week, our parents and I watched iconic LGBTQ+ artists such as Boy George, Freddie Mercury, Jimmy Somerville, Marc Almond, Erasure, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Divine, and Dead Or Alive. They not only brought gay culture to the forefront of family television, but also produced incredible and groundbreaking music.

Will & Grace


The show specified as “Will & Grace” was particularly intriguing due to the characters of Jack and Karen. It was a groundbreaking sitcom, as it was one of the first to feature a gay man who lived his life unapologetically, with elements such as pursuing love, getting married, having a sexual life, working, starting a family, forming relationships, and living without the usual drama that seems to follow the LGBTQ+ community. While it did have its share of issues, like heterosexual actors playing gay roles and the use of stereotypical representations, and a lack of LGBTQ+ characters, it was still an exceptionally well-received show. I reside in Brazil, a country where 25 years ago, the only form of LGBTQ+ representation on TV was through characters in comedy shows who were mocked. “Will & Grace” displayed a reality that was vastly different from my own, but it gave me some semblance of hope that my own life did not have to be confined to the margins, or reduced to comic relief for straight individuals. Similar to the desire to have a wealthy friend like Karen, I, too, longed for that kind of companionship, but I have yet to find “my Karen.” Zed Martins, 46, Brazil.

Tipping the Velvet


The impact of Tipping the Velvet cannot be understated. It was groundbreaking in its portrayal of lesbian characters as the main focus rather than a mere inclusion. The historical context serves as a reminder that LGBTQ+ individuals have always existed and their experiences have a long history. It was truly uplifting to see this representation with a satisfying ending. These thoughts were shared by Clare, a woman in her 40s from Cambridge.

The Times of Harvey Milk

The initial broadcast of In the Pink on Channel 4 was a collection of films made by and featuring members of the LGBTQ+ community. After watching The Times of Harvey Milk, I felt empowered to publicly acknowledge my own identity. It is difficult to recall how little information was available on LGBTQ+ matters during the 1980s – there was a significant lack of resources, and the media was dominated by coverage of AIDS and intolerance. However, In the Pink was a refreshing change, a symbol of liberation. At the time, I was a 21 year old student studying theology from Orkney, attending Aberdeen University and serving on the students’ representative council. I was struggling internally with the conflict between my Christian beliefs and my sexuality. The Times of Harvey Milk was a documentary about the first openly gay elected official, who was later assassinated by a colleague. His killer only received a manslaughter charge, partially due to his addiction to fast food. Milk became my hero and an inspiration for speaking out without reservation. His bravery gave me the strength to fully embrace and openly acknowledge my own identity for the first time. Tim Morrison, 58, Orkney

The Fosters

Teri Polo and Sherri Saum in The FostersView image in fullscreen

The TV series “The Fosters” follows the journey of a married lesbian couple as they raise their five children – one biological and four adopted or fostered. My family and I would tune in every week to watch together, including my wife and our three kids. Now that our children are grown, they still enjoy watching reruns. The show provided them with a relatable reflection of our own family, even though it was a dramatic soap opera portrayal. It reassured us that we were not the only two-mother household in the world. In fact, our eldest son wrote about its impact on him and his siblings in his film school applications and is now a graduate. We have all memorized the theme song. Amy Franklin-Willis, aged 52 from California, USA.

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“It’s a Sin” is yet another brilliant creation by Russell T Davies. This powerful show tackles the ongoing concerns surrounding Aids/HIV, while also celebrating the diversity and strength of the LGBTQ+ community. Watching this series was emotionally challenging, yet ultimately uplifting, and served as a reminder of the courage, unity, and hardships that queer communities have faced for decades. “It’s a Sin” also sheds light on the continued struggle against erasure and stigma for the LGBTQ+ community, especially in regards to trans and non-binary individuals. It serves as a timely reminder of the parallels between past and current government rhetoric towards the LGBTQ+ community, and serves as a wake-up call for people of all ages. Martha Benedict, a 25-year-old from Wales, shares her thoughts.

Queer As Folk

‘I felt we’d arrived – with a bang!’ … Charlie Hunnam, Aidan Gillen and Craig Kelly in Queer As Folk.View image in fullscreen

Queer As Folk was the first drama that represented an unashamed and accurate picture of real gay people’s lives, good and bad. To a large extent it was what my life had been, except the characters were a lot braver than I had been. The show was fun and stuck a real finger up at the bigots in society. Finally, I felt that we had arrived: with a bang! Ian, 69, Leeds

Gimme Gimme Gimme

I was deeply impacted by Gimme Gimme Gimme during my teenage years. Tom and Linda were not popular or trendy, but neither was I. They were two individuals living in London, working, socializing, and searching for love. Their carefree lifestyle and independence inspired me to want the same for myself. While Queer As Folk was groundbreaking, I didn’t feel like it was achievable for me, but Gimme Gimme Gimme felt more relatable and attainable. Even now, the show remains memorable and I often quote it. Tom and Linda’s charm has stayed with me and I am appreciative of the way they portrayed a possible life for me. Jack, in his 40s, reflects on the impact the show had on him in London.


This may be controversial, but my first thought was the beloved Australian soap Neighbours! Georgie Stone plays Mackenzie: she contacted the show a few years ago to ask why they didn’t have a trans character, and got the job. The show has included trans storylines, but has also shown Mackenzie as a normal young woman, an accepted and loved member of the community. When Australia legalised same-sex marriage, a storyline was introduced where two characters, Aaron and David, got married immediately. They went on to have a child, and show how natural it is for gay couples to bring up children. The show continues to have gay, lesbian and bisexual characters. What I love about it is that their sexuality isn’t their all-defining characteristic. They are complicated, interesting, flawed and wonderful people, just like everyone else. And obviously, they are also good neighbours! Teresa Sadler, 54, Worcester

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Joe Locke and Kit Connor in Heartstopper.View image in fullscreen

The Heartstopper series, based on Alice Oseman’s graphic novels and novellas, was a life-changing experience for me. It reminded me of events from my past that helped me overcome long-standing sadness. The story touched me deeply and illustrated that being part of the LGBTQ+ community does not make you abnormal – you are simply a regular person dealing with everyday issues. This kind of representation was scarce during my youth when the characters’ age. It was rare to see a character whose sexuality was not their defining feature. I am grateful that these books and the television adaptation have had a positive impact on others, just as they have on me. Ian Jasper, age 59, from Ipswich.

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When I was growing up, there was very little representation of homosexuality. Gay women, in particular, had even less representation, as most portrayal of homosexuality was focused on gay men as the more socially acceptable face of the community. I personally came out as gay relatively late in life, but now I understand why a certain TV series held such significance for me. Looking back, if social media had existed, reading others’ reactions to the series would have been a positive experience for me. Unfortunately, at the time, I was very confused and suppressed my feelings, choosing to dismiss them instead. Despite the occasional tragic element, I still admire the courage it took to produce that TV series so many years ago. While it may not have made a huge impact on societal change at the time, it was an important representation for me. As a confused woman, I found parts of it relatable. In a world where I felt disconnected and had few friends, it is something that I will never forget. As someone who is now 52 and lives in London, it still holds a special place in my heart.

The L Word

The television show “The L Word” took us from having no representation to having a majority of characters represented. While it may not have been perfect, it was groundbreaking in its focus on women, diversity, family, chosen family, parenthood, love, and loss. It provided a form of escape, while also accurately reflecting the struggles, situations, and characters that many have experienced or know of. It wasn’t considered mainstream, but it had cultural significance, despite some lackluster storylines and problematic representation of trans individuals. As stated by Suzanne, age 41 from Kent.

Tales of the City

The show depicted characters who identified as gay, lesbian, and transgender living openly within society, not isolated in a specific community. It had a warm and humorous tone, without glorifying the LGBTQ+ community, and most importantly, the characters were not killed off in the end. A viewer named Mark E Allinson, 56, from London, shared their thoughts.

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Rhys Darby and Taika Waititi in Our Flag Means Death

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It was refreshing to watch a television show that did not revolve around homophobia. Rather, it featured queer characters living their lives and forming a new, loving family that accepted each other unconditionally. The show is both humorous and thrilling, with a focus on a love story that is portrayed just like any other. We need more narratives that do not use being gay for shock tactics or as a source of humor. It is a disappointment that the show was cancelled before its story could be fully told, but the outpouring of support from fans demonstrates its significance to so many individuals. Bettina, 32, from Crewe.

is an Emmy-winning American reality competition television series.
RuPaul’s Drag Race is a popular reality competition show that has won an Emmy award.

Gothy Kendoll on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK vs the WorldView image in fullscreen

Unfortunately, I was raised in a highly traditional household and community. As a result, I was not exposed to the concept of being queer or trans until I discovered RuPaul’s Drag Race. Seeing positive representation of the LGBTQ+ community aided in my journey of accepting and embracing my own identity, which is still something I am continuously working on. It is crucial for there to be more shows that showcase queer individuals as human beings, as my biggest fear while growing up was being labeled as gay in school. However, now my fear is being perceived as straight. 29-year-old Willard from Indiana, United States.

This Life

As a young gay person going through the process of coming out and facing being outed at school and with my family, This Life was a major eye-opener for me. The carefree and positive depictions of a gay couple, one of whom was incredibly fit and successful, were groundbreaking. I still remember watching this show in secret and feeling a sense of relief as my feelings of guilt and shame temporarily took a backseat. This statement was shared by Andrew F Giles, a 44-year-old from Spain.

Source: theguardian.com