Queer representation in media is getting more diverse as opposed to years ago and slowly more queer main characters are headlining movies and shows with compelling stories that aren’t trauma filled or there to be the token characters.
In the UK, authentic queer Black representation is still a work in progress as words like diversity and inclusion in film and TV are often spoken of but not reflected on screen. With few exceptions, Black queer stories in mainstream media are still stuck in marginalized and sidekick roles, when present at all it’s often represented through the African American experience.
The hit show “Heartstopper” is an example of great representation as it follows the story based on a comic book of two teenage boys in high school who seem to be polar opposites on paper but fall in love while navigating their relationship and sexuality together as well as the other queer characters and their relationships in the show.
The show is a cute and fluffy watch as it depicts a healthy relationship between the two main characters, which I must admit is hard to find these days for queer stories in media. I’m grateful that shows like Heartstopper exist as they resonate with a wide audience across the world. Although the main protagonists are not Black there’s an adequate representation of the other characters in the show. Another good example of shows trying to break the mold for Black LGBTQ characters is “Banana” a British anthology series based on LGBTQ youth. It doesn’t exclusively follow all Black characters but three out of the eight episodes are worth watching.
Most times, Black queer characters in media often end up being in interracial relationships or love triangles where they pick the white love interest over the Black love interest at the end. This in fact perpetuates ideas that Black love stories aren’t the standard or are not seen as attractive enough. “Sex Education” does this when Eric picks adam over Rahim in season 2 although sex education clearly tries to break the mold with its queer characters and their compelling back stories and struggles.
The emergence of television shows in the 2000s like the Wire, True blood, and Noah’s Arc, to mention but a few are clear depictions that Black gay men could be multifaceted individuals and shows an attempt to offer a more nuanced representation of black queer characters. In the years after, series like Dear White People, have had characters that are clearly trying to break the mold which is commendable.
Representation is important as it can signify acceptance and normalcy for Black queer people and the battle for representation doesn’t only mean we should see more on-screen characters, we also need to hire more Black lgbtq+ people behind the camera to get involved in the storytelling as well while creating programs that don’t force queer characters to represent all queer experiences. Black gay couples and relationships deserve to be properly and positively represented in media. Only then, can the representation we seek fully come into fruition in the best way possible.