The progress made by the mainstream queer movement over the last ten years is nothing short of breathtaking.
From the spread of same-sex marriage across much of the United States to increased workplace protections for queer people to unprecedented visibility for the transgender community, it's been a pretty incredible decade.
One of the most obvious ways to view this transformation is through the images and stories we're fed through popular culture -- especially television. Queer characters are currently all over our screens in a variety of programming formats -- and in ways that would've been unimaginable just a few short years ago.
Below, check out 10 queer things that have transpired on television over the last 10 years that have -- intentionally or not -- documented how far we've come in the way our society views, understands and represents the queer community.
The heartwarming story of "Modern Family" brought queer fatherhood into the mainstream in a positive and unprecedented way. While TV has certainly given us images of gay fathers in the past, Mitchell and Cameron's characters marked the first time that gay fathers
have raised an infant on network television... and it was adorable.
This summer, television will welcome Jazz Jennings's reality TV show
The transgender 14-year-old writer, activist and public speaker will star in a groundbreaking unscripted, 11-part series, to be called “All That Jazz."
The Netflix original series "Orange Is The New Black" is a revolutionary show in a number of ways, not least of which is its complex and positive portrayal of bisexuality. Main character Piper has genuine feelings for both men and women throughout the course of the show -- feelings that complicate her life and communicate queer experience in an authentic way. This is a sharp contrast from traditional, mainstream portrayals of bisexuality that tend to make being bi seem "exotic" or hyper-sexualized.
Where do we even start with "RuPaul's Drag Race"? RuPaul has given us real, authentic images of full-time working drag queens (in a competitive setting) for seven years now, thereby bringing drag into the mainstream and humanizing the individuals working in this art form. Prior to "Drag Race," most portrayals of drag queens on television tended to either be one-dimensional (and usually on soap operas) or as sex workers. "Drag Race" is truly an amazing cultural phenomenon. We love you, Ru!
The steamy gay love scenes
involving ambitious and unashamedly sexual law student Connor Walsh (played by Jack Falahee) are just one part of the smash ABC series' appeal, but a significant one. Creator Peter Nowalk said developing a gay character who was brazen and unchaste was a personal goal, telling The New York Times
: "I didn’t see that growing up, and I feel like the more people get used to two men kissing, the less weird it will be for people."
The Amazon series broke fresh ground in its portrayal of a father who comes out to his family as transgender. The impact of the show isn't lost on star Jeffrey Tambor, who nabbed a Golden Globe
for his portrayal of retired college professor Maura Pfefferman.
"My legs shook because I was so nervous," he said, recalling the experience of visiting a bar in character as Maura. "And I said, ‘Remember this, don’t ever forget this moment because this, when you act, it’s about saving lives
, it’s about making people safe.’”
"Glee" repeatedly made history over its six-year run by featuring rich queer characters who dealt with situations rarely seen on network TV, especially on a show aimed at tweens and teens.
The musical sitcom offered a particularly nuanced and groundbreaking portrayal of young queer female experiences courtesy of characters Brittany Pierce and Santana Lopez, often affectionately known as Brittana or Santittany.
The girls, who were originally "friends with benefits" early on in the series, go through a variety of landmark moments, from making out to publicly coming out to breaking up to getting married.
Despite the mainstream progress of the queer community, intersex identity still tends to be misunderstood. In an effort to raise visibility surrounding this identity, MTV made intersexuality a central plot point
in its show "Faking It" in 2014.
The show and its stars also filmed PSA's about what it means to be intersex.
Intersex is an umbrella term used to describe an instance when an individual is born with anatomy that falls outside of traditional understandings of "male-bodied" and "female-bodied." What to learn more? Check out this video
One of the most buzzed-about moments on HBO's acclaimed but short-lived series "Looking
" was a scene in which Patrick (Jonathan Groff) administers a home enema before a romantic weekend
with on-again, off-again love interest Kevin (Russell Tovey). Less explicit, but also controversial, was the show's depiction of a serodiscordant romance between Agustin (Frankie J. Alvarez) and Eddie (Daniel Franzese), accompanied with a discussion of the preventative HIV/AIDS drug
Bruce Jenner's coming out as a transgender woman
in a 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in May 2015 was historic in a number of ways. Not only did Jenner (who currently continues to use male pronouns) openly discuss his gender identity in the public eye, but his being a member of the Kardashian clan means his story was carried to a portion of the world that may have never thought about what it means to be transgender before.
Jenner will continue to share his story
in an E! reality show premiering in July 2015.