9 queer moments in entertainment in 2017

Here are nine magnificent queer moments, in no particular order, in entertainment from 2017.

9. “When We Rise”

In February, ABC aired a four-night series, “When We Rise,” that chronicled the struggles of several LGBTQ men and women from the 1960s to modern civil rights victories. 

The docu-drama is based on the memoirs of queeractivist Cleve Jones (Guy Pearce) starting just after the Stonewall riots in 1969 and culminating in marriage equality.

This miniseries from Academy Award-winner Dustin Lance Black was recently awarded the Audience Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

After an 11-year absence from television,  “Will & Grace” (and Jack and Karen) returned to NBC in 2017. Photo: NBC.

8. “Will & Grace” returns

When “Will & Grace” first hit the NBC airwaves, the show about a gay lawyer living with a heterosexual, female interior designer became an instant hit and was one of the most successful television series with gay principal characters. So when it went off the air after eight years, many people were obviously upset. But 11 years after they said good bye, Will, Grace, Karen, and Jack returned to NBC in 2017. Rosario, Karen’s tough-as-nails housekeeper whose favorite designer is Members Only, didn’t return. Her character died early in the season.

Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden commented that the show “probably did more to educate the American public” on LGBTQ issues “than almost anything anybody has ever done so far,” Biden said in The Washington Times when asked about marriage equality. 

Disney Channel’s “Andi Mack” stars, from left to right, Sofia Wylie as Buffy Driscoll, Joshua Rush as Cyrus Goodman, Peyton Elizabeth Lee as Andi Mack, and Asher Angel as Jonah Beck. Photo: Disney Channel

7. Disney Channel’s first openly gay character

In October of 2017, a main character in one of the Disney Channel’s popular tween series, “Andi Mack,” came out as gay. 

Cyrus Goodman, (Joshua Rush), the 13-year-old best friend of titular character, Andi Mack (Peyton Elizabeth Lee), confided his realization in Mack. 

“ ‘Andi Mack’ is a story about ‘tweens’ figuring out who they are,” Disney Channel said in a statement shortly before the episode aired. “Creator Terri Minsky, the cast, and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity.”

“In a Heartbeat,” a short student film that centers on a closeted boy and his crush, has won several awards and landed on the shortlist for the 2018 Oscars. Photo: “In a Heartbeat.”

6. “In a Heartbeat” might receive Oscar nomination

The animated short “In a Heartbeat,” about a closeted boy who has a crush on a classmate, went viral last year and it’s easy to see why. The sweet and tender animated film follows Sherwin, who is hiding from handsome Jonathan, the object of his affection, but Sherwin’s heart has other ideas. The little pink heart doesn’t pay attention to anything else except wanting to be close to Jonathan. There is an awkward moment when the heart finally catches up to Jonathan, but it happens in front of the boys’ classmates. We won’t spoil the ending.

The film not only captured hearts online, but the short film, written and directed by Ringling College of Art and Design graduate students Esteban Bravo and Beth David and funded through Kickstarter, also has captured several awards. It’s also one of 10 short films in the running to be nominated for Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Annual Academy Awards.

Asia Kate Dillon plays Taylor Amber Mason, a non-binary analyst on the Showtime hit, “Billions.” Photo: Showtime.

5. Non-binary gendered actor, Asia Kate Dillon, challenges award categories

After being forced to choose between the Emmy’s Best Supporting Actor or Actress categories for their roll as non-binary analyst Taylor Amber Mason in Showtime’s “Billions,” non-binary star, Asia Kate Dillon challenged the need for a separation between genders.

Dillon, who identifies as gender non-binary, did some research, according to Variety, and ultimately chose the actor category. Dillon then wrote a letter to the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences and asked what was the need for the gender-specific categories. Soon after, MTV Movie Awards announced they would do away with gender-specific categories.

Armando Ibanez, right, wrote and directed the web series “Undocumented Tales.,” which is based on his real life. The indie web series chronicles the life of Fernando, who works as a waiter and navigates Los Angeles as an undocumented gay man pursuing happiness and freedom. Photo: Armando Ibanez.

4. ‘Undocumented Tales’ brings undocumented queers out of the shadows

Armando Ibanez’s independent web series “Undocumented Tales” gives a multidimensional view of people who are undocumented and queer.

The series, which can be seen on YouTube, chronicles the life of Fernando, who works as a waiter and navigates Los Angeles as an undocumented gay man pursuing happiness and freedom. Ibanez, who stars as Fernando, says the series is semi-autobiographical and based on real-life events.

ALSO READ: ‘Undocumented Tales’ features multidimensional queer, undocumented characters

The six-episode second season aired in November and December. A third season is in the works.

The CW’s DC superheroes crossover into each other’s universes to battle a shared foe. Photo: CW

3. Queer superheroes

The CW’s batch of popular DC superhero shows, which are guided by showrunner Greg Berlanti (who also happens to be married to former LA Galaxy player Robbier Rogers) continue to be a place where LGBTQ characters’ are out and proud. We have bisexual Sarah Lance (Caity Lotz), whose alter ego is White Canary in “Legends of Tomorrow” and Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), the lesbian sister of “Supergirl,” a highly-trained, doctor-scientist who is a member of the government’s Department of Extranormal Operations. 

In “Crisis on Earth X,” a crossover between the shows,  four queer characters — White Canary, Alex Danvers, Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), and Ray Terrell (Russell Tovey) visited an alternate reality where the Nazis won World War II, and LGBTQ people were still forced to wear a pink triangle.


“American Gods” is based on Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name. Photo: Starz.

2. Gay love scene in ‘American Gods’

Neil Gaiman’s beloved novel, “American Gods” was turned into a series that aired on the Starz network in 2017. After setting the stage — sex-wise — partway through the first episode with the introduction of Yetide Badaki’s love goddess, Bilquis, the creators showed that queer love exists among the gods.

In the third episode, viewers are introduced to a salesman named Salim (Omid Abtahi), who after several failed attempts at making a sale, finds himself in a cab driven by an ancient Arab god played by Mousa Kraish. The men eventually become involved in a four-minute sex scene that some critics called explicit, Gaiman said he watched in “absolute amazement and an absolute joy,” during a Paley Center panel, according to Entertainment Weekly

Denise (Lena Waithe), right, comes out to her mother, (Angela Bassett), in Netflix’s “Master of None” episode “Thanksgiving.” Photo: Netflix

1. Lena Waithe wins an Emmy

Out actress and writer Lena Waithe created one of the most memorable episodes of Aziz Ansari’s “Master of None” with her “Thanksgiving” episode, which told the difficult story of what it’s like for her character, Denise, to come out to her mother (Angela Bassett). The episode, based on her own real-life experience, was so well received that it won Waithe an Emmy in 2017.

In her emotional acceptance speech Waithe said, “I love you all, and last but certainly not least, my LGBTQIA family. I see each and every one of you. The things that make us different, those are our superpowers — every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape and go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren’t in it.”

About the author

Beatriz E. Valenzuela

Beatriz E. Valenzuela is an award-winning journalist who’s covered breaking news in Southern California since 2006 and has been on the front lines of national and international news events. She also covers all things nerd, including comic book culture and video games. She’s an amateur obstacle course racer, constant fact-checker, mother of three, and lover of all things geek.

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