TV and movie characters who generally inspired queer revivals

Everyone remembers their first love at first sight. The moment when, when they were little, they saw someone else that sparked strange and new feelings inside. Even though they didn’t know how they felt, they knew it was special.

When asked, most people will recall that their first crush was a fictional character. Whether it’s James Bond, Jessica Rabbit or Edward Cullen, it’s a universal experience shared from generation to generation.

For some of us, this first awakening means something else. The butterflies that multiply in our stomachs whisper two small but monumental words:

“You are gay.”

*Cue the internal gay panic*

Even though butterflies aren’t one hundred percent about the money (sex is complicated), they make good points. Having a fictional character stir emotions and reveal inner truths is a shared experience, especially for queer people.

Whether it’s Peter Pan or Xena, there’s plenty to unpack.

Representation issues


Pansexual spaceman and horndog Cpt. Jack Harkness of Doctor Who and Torchwood (played by John Barrowman) was born in the distant future, where thousands of different species coexist. He didn’t care about gender, race, or human-centric standards of beauty.

Life was a buffet, and if something was hot and tasty, he ate it.

Casting a bi or pan man as a tough, swaggering hero is great queer portrayal…especially for the mid-2000s when Cpt. Jack Harkness graced our television screens. Yet a character doesn’t have to be textually or explicitly queer to cause awakening.

Queer sub-textual or coded characters are aplenty in media, especially in past decades that were less accepted than the 2020s. Gender icons like David Bowie in (1986) as Jareth, The Goblin King can inspire children to question their own gender identity.

david bowie maze
Tri Star Pictures

Or, as a Reddit user ScreamDeerSoul eloquently states:

“Jareth, the Goblin King. So mysterious, so sensual, so… Spandex.

If you grew up before the era of Wi-Fi and smartphones, then characters like these were a rare insight into the complex world of gender and sexuality. Since buffy for Ugly Betty and Ellen Degeneres, we had to take whatever LGBTQ+ representation we could get, even if it was problematic.

It was before the age of drag race and Heart stroke.

The portrayal of marginalized groups is wonderful to see when done right, but it’s neither here nor there. This article is about the moment we all had when we sat down in front of a screen and realized that romance could take unexpected forms.

Very unexpected shapes.

Feeling Pan at the Box Office

Movies and TV shows are full of gorgeous actors. A character played by a stone-cold fox doesn’t hurt, but it comes after unique personalities come to life.

It’s a case of Sexy vs. Hot.

Most stories tend to fall in one part of the rainbow, becoming a shared experience more familiar with one sexuality or identity than others. A handful crosses borders and works for everyone.

The 1999 Supernatural Adventure The Mummy falls squarely into this category. This universal truth was perfectly explained with a wink on Twitter by @elle_enasalin:


Reddit user GeekmomD backs that up with a meme that hits the nail on the head:


With a cast of smoke shows and overflowing with charm, The Mummy has become a bisexual cult classic. While Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz helmed the film, it wasn’t just the physical attraction that won hearts everywhere. The bravery and humor of Rick O’Connell, the lovely enthusiasm of Evelyn and the seriousness of Ardeth Bay all piqued our interest.

They triggered it a lot.

Editor ROclimbingbabeCK responded to this meme in a way that shows the effect movies like this can have:

“OH MY GOD! I actually used that as an example of how I knew I was Bi. The first sexual feelings happened to me while I was watching this movie. Then I watched it 1000 times I had a crush on everyone I still do lol.

Reddit user friend nikkuhlee added their experience:

“Patricia Velasquez [Anck Su Namun in the film] was the first photo I used as inspiration for a tabletop roleplaying character, she has a special place in my heart.

And yes, yes, looking back, it’s incredibly accurate. How I turned 28 before thinking “maybe I love everyone?” is a mystery.

There are plenty of other movies and shows that are an embarrassment of riches, like the ones from 2017 Thor: Ragnarok. Both Ragnarok and The Mummy feature badass women (Cate Blanchett and Rachel Weisz) who have opened the eyes of queer women around the world.

And you know, Chris Hemsworth as the Norse god swinging a hammer doesn’t inspire complaints either.


Small screen, big impact

There may be a frustrating lack of great female characters in popular entertainment, but the ones we have are stellar. There’s a rich history of badass women stealing our hearts with heroes like Katniss Everdeen (The hunger Games), Trinity (The matrix), or Princess Leia (General Organa if you’re mean).

The 1990s blessed us with a cavalcade of strong, capable and charismatic women on television. When talking about the strong and sexy women of TV in the 90s, it’s impossible not to start with buffy the vampire slayer

(Quick note: Like most fans, it’s hard to separate the art from the artist. To sum up my feelings about Buffy and the multiple allegations against the creator: F*ck Joss Whedon, Scooby gang for life.)

buffy the vampire slayer was special for so many reasons, not the least of which is the dozen memorable female characters. Many “girl crushes” have been inspired by the main cast and supporting characters like Eliza Dushku’s creepy/sexy anti-hero Faith.

A central character deserves to be highlighted in terms of first love: Willow Rosenburg.


Editor DismemberMama writing :

“Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. There’s the Halloween episode in season 2, it was a great costume, and then I was really into Vampire Willow the next season. Nothing says sexual awakening like a character you already identify too much with while you’re still in the closet trying to convince yourself that you just liked the vampire outfit instead of the person it’s wearing. had a crush before that (didn’t realize they were in love years after the fact), but you gotta go with the girl who turned you gay.

Joining Buffy Summers on her quest to defeat evil and make us swoon, Lucy Lawless’ Xena has broken down walls for a generation of young women. As for the Warrior Princess, Redditor mshep002 said:

“It was one for me where I didn’t know if I wanted to be her or do her.


Swap the leather corset for a blazer, X files graced the Earth with Dr. Dana Katherine Scully. The cucumber-cool FBI agent was brought to life with the wit and confidence of actor Gillian Anderson that made smart the new sexy.

I mean, look at her!

dana scully

Scully inspired more than just lady-boners and rad songs like Tacocat’s”Dana Katherine Scully.

During the show’s original run, there was a surge in the number of women entering STEM and law enforcement. Anderson discussed what was dubbed “The Scully Effect” at San Diego ComiCon 2013:

“We got a lot of letters all the time, and girls who went into the medical world or the science world or the FBI world or other worlds that I ruled often told me that they continued these activities because of the Scully character. And I said, ‘Yay!’ “

The real-world change inspired by a self-contained female character further exemplifies the difference between crushing on a celebrity and falling in love with a work of fiction. It shows how fiction can affect the psyche in unexpected ways.

Whether you do STEM or do…other things.

come alive

As mentioned earlier, developing feelings for a same-sex fictional character is aided by the handsome actors involved. A good example of the case for “sexy vs. hot” is cartoon characters that made us all feel funny on the inside.

Animated shows like Powerpuff Girls and Avatar: The Last Airbender brought action and adventure to children around the world, causing more excitement than expected. Editor riosg9864 pointed out the obvious with Avataris Suki:

“A badass female warrior with insane makeup skills? Every lesbian’s dream.

suki avatar
cartoon network

Spending season after season with a crushable character helps solidify feelings over time. Also in the world of The last air MasterFirebender Zuko left a lasting impression on Redditor tstrandberg7:

“He was DEFINITELY my sexual awakening. I thought he was cute in season 2, but by season 3 he was completely HOT.

Personality goes a long way, ask anyone who’s passed out over an anthropomorphic animal in a Disney movie. 1995’s Roxanne A wacky movie was so sweet and charming that budding young lesbians ignored the fact that she was the same dog/human combo as Goofy.

One creature stands alone when it comes to adjacent furry lust: Robin Hood, the fox from Disney’s 1973 adaptation. Forgoing even queer awakening, foxy Robin also tops lists of love animations for kids. heterosexuals.

foxy robin

As someone who didn’t grow up with this version of Robin Hood (we were a Mel Brooks family), the extent of people’s crushes on a forest animal baffled me. Then I finally sat down to see what it was all about.

I completely understand now.

This post from Redditor corrine432 sums up Robin’s sex appeal perfectly:

“He had that V-neck, the cocky but sensitive attitude… That fox was a dream ship.”

Given the popularity of Hentai, adult graphic novels and VR porn gamesIt’s safe to say that the attraction to cartoon characters (whether human or talking fox) is a trait that has crept into many of our adult ages.

Inspire a generation of queer people

When we are young, movies and television play a central role in self-discovery. We experience worlds and meet people that can only exist in fiction, but just because they’re fantasy doesn’t make their impact any less real.

It’s so hard to articulate what’s going on inside of us, especially as a confused young queer. These characters, and many more, have helped tiny future LGBTQ+ people understand themselves better and opened our eyes to what we want in life.

Even if we didn’t realize it at the time!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the Han Solo costume I ordered for my partner just arrived and I’m feeling nostalgic.

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