15 Great Recent LGBTQ Movie And TV Characters Played By Queer Actors

Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All At Once
(Image credit: A24)

It’s June and you know what that means – it’s pride month. And honestly, I think it’s about time that we celebrate some amazing LGBTQ+ actors who have really delivered some fantastic performances in movies in recent years, particularly in their portrayal of LGBTQ characters.

There are so many LGBTQ movie and TV characters, played by talented actors and actresses, that bring so much life to the screen, from Bella Ramsey in The Last of Us  to Andrew Scott in All Of Us Strangers. But where exactly do we begin? Here are some of the recent LGBTQ characters in movies and TV played by members of the community. 

Andrew Scott in All of Us Strangers

(Image credit: Searchlight Pictures)

All Of Us Strangers – Andrew Scott As Adam

All Of Us Are Strangers released in late 2023 to rave reviews and while I personally don’t think it got nearly as much hype as it should have, the one thing I will comment on is Andrew Scott. While the LGBTQ+ actor has taken on roles such as this before, there’s just something so raw and real about his portrayal of Adam. 

The story follows a lonely screenwriter who begins a romance with his mysterious neighbor while also experiencing a strange instance where he is able to see his old parents again – the movie itself certainly feels like there’s a small layer of fantasy, but the themes itself make this film that much better, including the lovely portrayal from Scott, who is an ‘openly gay’ actor.  

Keiynan Lonsdale in Love, Simon.

(Image credit: 20th Century Fox)

Love, Simon - Keiynan Lonsdale As Bram Greenfeld

Released in 2018, Love, Simon is a story about a closeted gay young adult who struggles to balance his life amongst the blackmailer that is threatening to out him at school – while also trying to identify the anonymous classmate that he has fallen in love with. The film became so popular that a Hulu spinoff, titled Love, Victor, premiered not that long after, but was canceled after Season 3

In Love, Simon, Keiynan Lonsdale portrays Bram Greenfeld, one of Simon’s classmates and an openly gay student, and Keiynan himself came out in 2017. The film made strides for having a gay protagonist, becoming one of the first mainstream film to showcase a gay teen romance. 

Bayard Rustin (Colmon Domingo) smiling in Rustin

(Image credit: Netflix)

Rustin – Colman Domingo As Bayard Rustin 

While Rustin itself was more of an under-the-radar critical darling of 2023, as it was one of CinemaBlend’s best movies of 2023,  you want to know what wasn’t? Colman Domigo’s performance as Bayard Rustin. It follows the story of the real-life civil rights activist who worked with MLK Jr. to organize the iconic 1963 March on Washington for equal rights in America. 

Colman Domingo shines in his portrayal of Bayard Rustin, and his performance was so critically acclaimed that he earned an Academy Award nomination. Colman Domingo has become a much bigger name the last few years with many of the roles he had portrayed, and he even spoke in an interview with Advocate in 2021 that he hopes he’s breaking new ground for young Black gay men in Hollywood: 

Hopefully, I'm breaking new ground for people who are like me. I believe, as a gay Black man, we don't have a lot of comparisons to a Daniel Day-Lewis or Philip Seymour Hoffman, actors who slip into different roles like I have, and are not limited in what they can portray.

Kate McKinnon in Bombshell

(Image credit: Lionsgate)

Bombshell - Kate McKinnon As Jess Carr

Moving into the drama genre, we take a look at Kate McKinnon in Bombshell. You might recognize her name from her amazing performances on the classic late night television show Saturday Night Live, which she left in 2022, or maybe even from comedy movies such as the 2016 Ghostbusters or Office Christmas Party. But Kate McKinnon has an amazing range as an actress, and she showed that off when playing Jess Carr as part of the Bombshell cast.

While her character was fictional (set within a film that was based on true events), her role as the Fox News employee Jess Carr was impactful, and showed what it might be like for a closeted lesbian who works in a primarily conservative news space.

NYAD. Jodie Foster as Bonnie Stoll in NYAD. Cr.

(Image credit: Kimberley French/Netflix ©2023)

Nyad – Jodie Foster As Bonnie Stoll

Nyad was another great under-the-radar Netflix critical film in 2023 that truly told an amazing story of Diana Nyad, the oldest woman ever to swim between Havana, Cuba and Key West, Florida. Another highlight of that film was Jodie Foster’s portrayal of Bonnie Stoll, the longtime friend and once-lover of Diana. 

Jodie Foster herself came out about a decade ago at the 2013 Golden Globe Awards, and while the actress is known for plenty of great roles, she’s inspired young LGBTQ+ actresses everywhere that it’s never too late to tell the world who you really are. Her portrayal as Bonnie Stoll stole the show and earned her yet another Academy Award nomination.  

Jim Parsons as Tommy Boatwright in The Normal Heart.

(Image credit: HBO)

The Normal Heart - Jim Parsons As Tommy Boatwright

Since starring as Shelden Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, Jim Parsons continues to take on new and exciting roles in both film and television. Everyone knows who he is and how often he has spoken out about his sexuality. That’s why his portrayal of Tommy Boatwright in The Normal Heart felt even more compelling than any other role he has done, at least in my opinion.

The Normal Heart, based on the Larry Kramer 1985 play of the same name, depicts the HIV-AIDS crisis in New York City during the early eighties, and Parsons plays a gay activist fighting to address the issue. Parsons is a talented actor, so it’s no surprise that he absolutely rocked this role. The film gives interesting insights into what happened back in the eighties and the struggles that activists had to face every single day.

Stephanie Hsu in Everything Everywhere All at Once

(Image credit: A24)

Everything Everywhere All At Once – Stephanie Hsu As Joy Wang

I think out of all the movies that released in 2022, Everything Everywhere All At Once was the one that touched fans’ hearts the most, even if some of it was just straight-up weird. However, the film tells a beautiful story of love, family, and acceptance of one's faults, mainly led by two fantastic performances from both Michelle Yeoh and Stephanie Hsu

Hsu portrayed Joy Wang, the daughter of Evelyn Quan Wang and one of the primary characters of the movie. Joy has a girlfriend in the movie, but Hsu also identifies as queer in real-life, according to The Eagle Online.

Tituss Burgess in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - Tituss Burgess As Titus Andromedon 

Few have truly made me laugh out loud as Titus Andromedon on the classic Netflix series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This show, which primarily followed a young woman learning to adapt to normal every-day life after spending more than a decade locked below ground by a reverend, has always brought the laughs and provided some hilarious inside jokes, usually because of Titus Andromedon. He’s sassy, talented, and the best gay friend that we all need in our lives that will be blunt with you no matter what. 

Tituss Burgess has been active in television for some time, including guest spots on 30 Rock, performing in musicals like Annie, and more, but nothing has quite come close to the hilarious nature of Titus Andromedon and the impact he made on television as a whole. Truly, there is no one like him.   

Justice Smith in I Saw the TV Glow.

(Image credit: A24)

I Saw The TV Glow – Justice Smith As Owen

I Saw The TV Glow released in 2024 by A24, and while it certainly wasn’t a huge hit at the box office, it’s slowly picking up steam on the internet, mainly through Justice Smith’s amazing role of Owen. The film tells the story of two friends whose lives begin to spiral when their favorite show is cancelled – because honestly, same. 

Jokes aside, Smith’s performance of Owen is gutting and cuts straight to the core, without spoiling anything, and if you want an excellent psychological horror-drama, this is the film for you. Justice Smith came out in 2020 as a queer person, and ever since then he’s advocated for the support of Black queer and trans lives.  

portrait of a lady on fire

(Image credit: Pyramide Films)

Portrait Of A Lady On Fire - Adele Haenel As Heloise

Released in 2019, Portrait of a Lady on Fire follows Adele Haenel portrayed Heloise, a young 19th-century lesbian who fiercely opposes the arranged marriage set up for her, but later has a romance with a woman who was commissioned to paint her wedding portrait.

Adele Haenel publicly came out back in 2014 when she won a Cesar Award and has since been very open about who she is. The film portrays what it’s like to have that effect of a romance last forever in your life and that it doesn’t matter what gender that you are – love is love, and when you meet that one person that can change you, it sticks with you until the end. 

Amandla Stenberg in Bodies, Bodies, Bodies

(Image credit: A24)

Bodies, Bodies, Bodies – Amandla Stenberg As Sophie

Hands down, Bodies, Bodies, Bodies is one of the best horror movies from A24, and tells a hilariously horrific story of a group of young adults who are staying in a mansion and play a murder-game that actually turns real, and sooner or later, it’s a whodunit as they try and stay alive. Amandla Stenberg plays Sophie, the main character, and while her queerness isn’t the main plotline of the film, it certainly plays an important role. 

In 2016, Amandla Stenberg came out as bisexual, but she also said that “pansexual” was a good term to describe her as well, according to Elle. The actress has appeared in a variety of roles since then, but personally, I don’t think any of them have come as close as the craziness that is Bodies, Bodies, Bodies.  

Jonathan Groff in Looking.

(Image credit: HBO)

Looking - Jonathan Groff As Patrick Murray

Jonathon Groff has an impressive resume for plenty of people to admire. From voicing Kristoff as part of the Frozen and Frozen II cast to portraying the king in Hamilton, he’s been around the block plenty of times, showing off his amazing acting and singing skills. But one show that you may or may not remember him from was in the HBO series Looking, where he portrayed Patrick Murray.

The series follows the story of three gay men living in San Francisco, and their lives and friendships. The series went on for two seasons, which were followed by a feature-length film in 2016. Looking may have only lasted for a short amount of time, but its impact on television is felt all the same. In an interview with the New York Times, Groff talked about the significance of the show. When asked how he'd feel if he were able to watch the show as a teenager, he said:

The whole show is very romantic. It’s about relationships. In the commercial, it’s two men kissing each other. I just never saw that except on “Will & Grace,” and that was very powerful for me to see.

Ayo Edebiri in Bottoms.

(Image credit: MGM)

Bottoms – Ayo Edebiri As Josie 

Bottoms was the queer comedy of 2023 in my eyes. The movie tells the story of two teenagers in high school who start a female-only fight club in order to have sex with cheerleaders. Yes, this sounds exactly like a 2000s teen comedy and yes, it’s just as funny as you can expect it to be, especially with two leads like Rachel Sennott and Ayo Edebiri as part of the Bottoms cast. 

While Ayo Edibiri’s best roles includes plenty of other shows and movies, like The Bear or Big Mouth, I freaking love her in Bottoms as Josie because she perfectly exemplifies what it’s like to be a young LGBTQ+ person in high school who is just trying to survive and be somehow cool. Even Ayo Edebiri said in an interview with Refinery 29 in September 2023 that it’s “radical” she gets to be a young Black queer person and do the crazy stuff she’s done in a movie in Hollywood nowadays. 

Chris Colfer on Glee.

(Image credit: Fox)

Glee - Chris Colfer As Kurt Hummel

Glee, when it released, was an iconic show, becoming a huge hit for Fox. The series was all about misfits coming together in a high school glee club in order to find companionship when it felt there was no one there for them, and one of those characters that stuck around from the very first season was Kurt Hummel, a closeted gay student (at first) at William McKinley High School. 

Chris Colfer played the character, and over time, Kurt became more sure of himself not only as a gay man but as a voice for his community, and showing that just because someone might not like your sparkle, that doesn’t mean you need to dim it for anyone else. His voice was always unique and made for some amazing covers. The Glee cast was so talented in so many ways, but Colfer stood out amongst the rest.  

Bella Ramsey as Ellie in The Last of Us Season 2.

(Image credit: HBO)

The Last Of Us – Bella Ramsey As Ellie

As someone who grew up playing The Last of Us, Ellie was a bit of a gay icon for me. She was a lead character (in a HUGE video game) that was openly lesbian and as someone who was struggling with her own bisexuality at the time, it was freaking fantastic to see the representation on screen. That’s why when I discovered that the young person also playing Ellie, Bella Ramsey, was non-binary in real-life, I knew it would be a perfect fit. 

I just knew they would understand how Ellie was portrayed, and my favorite video game character suddenly turned into my favorite TV character. Ramsey is known for their portrayal of Lyanna Mormont as well as in the Game of Thrones cast, but I have a feeling that their portrayal of Ellie in The Last of Us Season 2 will go down in LGBTQ+ history because I have a feeling they will rock it.  

Kiersey Clemons on Hearts Beat Loud.

(Image credit: Stage 6 Films)

Hearts Beat Loud - Kiersey Clemons As Sam Fisher

Kiersey Clemons has had some awesome roles in the past, from her breakout role as a teen lesbian in the 2015 comedy-drama Dope to her role in Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising, or even her more recent role in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. However, one of her best roles from the films I have seen has to be Hearts Beat Loud, the musical comedy, where she stars as Sam Fisher.

Hearts Beat Loud is all about Sam Fisher and her father, played by Nick Offerman, who is a record store owner and tries to convince her to start a band with him after a song they recorded went viral. The story not only has some great music but captures what it’s like as a young gay teenager to try and develop a true relationship with their family when some of them don’t quite understand what you’re going through. It’s definitely one of the underrated picks on this list and deserves so much more praise.

Megan Fox in Jennifer's Body

(Image credit: Disney/Fox)

Jennifer’s Body - Megan Fox As Jennifer

I bet you didn’t think a horror movie was going to be on this list, but look no further than Jennifer’s Body, starring Megan Fox as Jennifer. In Jennifer’s Body, the titular character, characterized as bisexual, is possessed by a demon, who goes on a rampage in school to fill its need for human flesh, whether that be boys or girls.

Megan Fox herself is bisexual, telling Esquire back in 2011 about her thoughts about her sexuality. 

I think people are born bisexual and then make subconscious choices based on the pressures of society. I have no question in my mind about being bisexual.

After seeing her star in several films for her beauty and talent as an actress, it’s empowering to hear Megan Fox speak so openly about who she is, and even more interesting to rewatch her portrayal of Jennifer years later. It’s awesome to see sexuality portrayed in something like a horror movie, but I’m here for it regardless. 

Kristen Stewart in Happiest Season

(Image credit: Hulu)

Happiest Season - Kristen Stewart As Abby Holland

2020 was a year of few big film releases, with so many dates changing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many viewers turned to streaming for their entertainment and Happiest Season was one of them, telling the story of a woman who is struggling to come out to her conservative family when she brings her girlfriend home for the holidays.

Kristen Stewart takes on the lead role as Abby Holland in the Happiest Season cast, the girlfriend of Harper, who comes home with her during the holidays. Kristen Stewart herself has come out as queer, and discussed in an interview with InStyle, how her journey of coming out helped her portray the character in the film. When asked if it was her own experiences that drew her to the role, she discussed the challenges of dating and fame during her early twenties, and being asked about her sexuality, stating:

I felt like maybe there were things that have hurt people I've been with. Not because I felt ashamed of being openly gay but because I didn't like giving myself to the public, in a way. It felt like such thievery. This was a period of time when I was sort of cagey. Even in my previous relationships, which were straight, we did everything we could to not be photographed doing things — things that would become not ours. So I think the added pressure of representing a group of people, of representing queerness, wasn't something I understood then. Only now can I see it. Retrospectively, I can tell you I have experience with this story. But back then I would have been like, "No, I'm fine. My parents are fine with it. Everything's fine." That's bullshit. It's been hard. It's been weird. It's that way for everyone.

When an actor goes through something so personal, it’s not a surprise that the character comes off so organically real, and that was the case with Happiest Season. Not only is it a great Christmas film, but it’s certainly a great portrayal of what coming out to a conservative family can be like. 

Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black.

(Image credit: Netflix)

Orange Is The New Black - Laverne Cox as Sophia Burset 

Orange is the New Black was Netflix's first big hit, before Squid Game, before Bridgerton, even before Stranger Things. While there were many reasons to praise this show, from its expert storytelling to its amazing acting, something I always loved about it was that it focused on many female characters that were part of the LGBTQ community, and one of which was Sophia Burset, played by Laverne Cox, a transgender woman. 

Her role received critical acclaim, and the show didn’t hold back from diving into the harder parts of transitioning from one gender to the next, from the discrimination that comes to the financial setbacks to everything else in-between. I’ll always miss her the most from the Orange is the New Black cast.  

Dan Levy in Schitt's Creek.

(Image credit: CBC Television)

Schitt's Creek - Dan Levy As David Rose

I feel like everyone has heard about this show one way or another in the last few years. Schitt's Creek ended up becoming extremely popular in 2020, even going on to sweep the comedic awards at the 2020 Primetime Emmys for its final season. One of the stars of the show - as well as one of the creators - was Dan Levy, who played David Rose, the pansexual son of Moira and Johnny. And in my opinion, David Rose was one of the funniest characters that Schitt's Creek had, and I am going to miss him terribly now that the show is over.

Dan Levy, who is gay,  did an interview with Entertainment Weekly in 2022 about David's pansexuality, and how it affected Schitt's Creek as a whole. 

When you break down a character, certain things just appear. And there’s something exciting about exploring things that haven’t necessarily been represented on television before. But I knew we never wanted it to be a “teachable moment.” We made a conscious choice that his sexuality would never be in danger—that the town was going to be completely accepting of everybody. I wanted to show a projection of our own world that was kinder, show how much people can grow and the capacity with which people can love when they are not fearing for their lives. We never really tackle politics on the show, but in a way, that was the political stand I took.

All representation starts somewhere, and I believe that David Rose was the perfect step in the right direction. Besides, who else would have been able to pull off that character other than Dan Levy? And if you had another option, I'm very uninterested in that opinion.

I’m looking forward to the future potential of roles in the 2024 new movie releases, or even the upcoming TV premiere schedule because all of these actors and actresses are truly iconic. Which one do you think was the best?

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.