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    15 Instances Where Queer Stars Fought For Representation In Reel And Real Life

    Representation matters.

    LGBTQ representation, especially in media, is an important topic that has to be talked about and more importantly, brought in place. Seeing queer people onscreen affirms real-life queer individuals and their identities. Here are 15 times our favorite LGBTQ stars raised their voices to increase LGBTQ representation in Hollywood.

    Young multi ethnic lesbian couple with rainbow flag running on city quay
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    1. When Jonathan Bailey, the gay Bridgerton actor, opened up about his desire to see queer actors play queer characters.

    Bailey looking at the camera
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    In an interview with Digital Spy, Jonathan said, "I think it shouldn't matter at all what character people play, but of course there is a narrative that's very clear, that openly gay men aren't playing straight in leading roles. And also, there's a reason why gay characters are so interesting. Because much like the women in Bridgerton, there are a lot of hurdles and there's a lot of self-growth, and there's a real strength to gay men. So the fact that a lot of straight men have gone on to play iconic gay roles and to be lauded for that is fantastic, that that story is being told. But wouldn't it be brilliant to see gay men play their own experience?"

    2. When Billy Porter said that Queer Black lives matter too.

    Billy Porter in a black and white glittery outfit, looking into the camera
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    In this video shared via his social media accounts during the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020, Billy Porter said "LGBTQ+ Black folks are Black people, too! Our lives matter, too! So this is my response to those of y'all who don't understand that: F*ck you! And, yes, I am cussing. It's time for cussing."

    3. Ruby Rose shutting up people who said she was not "queer enough."

    Ruby Rose sitting in a domestic setting, looking into the camera and smiling
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    The Orange Is the New Black and Batwoman actor identifies as a genderfluid lesbian. They faced backlash for being cast in the role of Kate Kane for not being "queer enough." 

    "I didn’t know that being a gender-fluid woman meant that I couldn’t be a lesbian because I’m not a woman — not considered lesbian enough," Rose told Entertainment Weekly, addressing the concerns. Later, they told CNN that there isn't "one type of gay person."

    4. When Elliot Page told Oprah that he wants to see more storylines where trans people get to be people.

    Elliot Page 2021 MET Gala
    Theo Wargo / Getty Images

    In his interview with Oprah, actor Elliot Page opened up that he wants to see new trans narratives in Hollywood. Page told Oprah that he wants to see more works in which "trans people [get] to be people," as opposed to the storyline focusing on "intense trauma, violence, or the idea that there's mental illness." "What's so important in terms of representation in front of the camera but equally behind the camera — for writers and directors to continue to tell more stories from the perspective of trans people," Page said.

    5. When Tommy Dorfman called out beauty brands gendering makeup.

    Tommy in a black low cut dress and looking into the camera
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    In an interview with Vogue, the 13 Reasons Why actor talked about the need for beauty brands to stop gendering their products. “Brands have a lot to do with the gendering of makeup. They gender everything: shampoos, conditioners, deodorants. I never thought I would do any kind of brand partnership with a deodorant company, but I have a contract with one because it’s not gendered. That’s something to support: brands that are doing their best, especially new brands. It’s up to luxury brands to start the trend and then drugstore brands to follow,” she said.

    6. When Greg Berlanti fought for the "gay kiss" in Dawson's Creek.

    Greg Berlanti looking into the camera and smiling
    Amanda Edwards / Getty Images

    This kiss made broadcast history as the first passionate kiss between two men. In 2020, he told the Advocate, "There was a whole generation where that was a pivotal storyline for them and it was subsequent to them having their own coming out experience. It was nice to think that in some way we had sent a safety line to young people in a way that maybe hadn’t been there for us. It’s easy to forget about how valuable that is." 

    7. When Laverne Cox said we need systematic change and not just representation.

    Laverne Cox looking into the camera and smiling
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    In an interview with Variety, the Emmy Award-winning actor said, "Representation is powerful and it’s necessary for inspiring people. That’s very, very important. But then when we talk about politics and material conditions of people’s lives, we need systemic change. Representation is not enough."

    8. When Dan Levy decided to create Schitt's Creek.

    Dan Levy looking into the camera
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    Dan Levy's character in Schitt's Creek, David Rose, is an OG pansexual icon and one of the few pansexual representations we see onscreen.

    9. When Jim Parsons talked about how LGBTQ+ representation is important for awareness.

    Jim Parsons looking into the camera
    The 32nd Annual Glaad Media Awar / Getty Images for GLAAD

    Talking about his role in the Netflix adaptation of the Broadway play The Boy in the Band, Parsons told LA Times, “While things are much better for homosexuals in our country and the world today, there are always other people or other groups that are victimized and discriminated against. That’s why the play has been such a lightning rod and travelled so far since it was first written. What these characters are going through is easily applicable to many other marginalized groups or people.”  

    10. Lil Nas X made his Call Me by Your Name music video, and TBH, his entire career.

    Lil Nas X performing on stage
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    Through the music video that faced the wrath of homophobic conservative media, Lil Nas X affirms the existence of queer people and queer identities. “I grew up in a pretty religious kind of home — and for me, it was fear-based very much,” he revealed in an interview with Time. “Even as a little child, I was really scared of every single mistake I may or may not have made. I want kids growing up feeling these feelings, knowing they’re a part of the LGBTQ community, to feel like they’re O.K. and they don’t have to hate themselves," he explained. 

    11. When Tessa Thompson said representation in Marvel's Next Phase is a "pretty big deal."

    Tessa Thompson looking into the camera
    Monica Schipper / Getty Images for Netflix

    In an interview with Ramy Yousef as a part of Variety's "Actors on Actors" Thompson, who plays Valkyrie — the first confirmed LGBTQ hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — said, "The truth is these movies travel globally in such huge ways, and if you can represent people that are of color, if you can represent people with disabilities, if you can represent the LGBTQIA community inside of these films, it’s a pretty big deal." She added that there are many cool queer characters in the comics and that they should have a place onscreen.

    12. When Andy Cohen called out The Real Housewives treatment of gay men.

    A shot from Cohen's talkshow
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    On his nightly talk show, Watch What Happens, while reacting to Kyle Richard's party to introduce "my gays" to "other people's gays," Cohen said, "You do not own them. We are not cattle."

    13. When Stephanie Beatriz called out casting directors to cast bisexual actors in bisexual roles.

    Beatriz looking away from camera and smiling
    Frazer Harrison / WireImage / Getty Images

    Beatriz, who gave life to bi-con Detective Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn 99, called out casting directors when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. In an interview with Teen Vogue, she said, "If you're writing a bi character, did you look at a lot of bi actors for the role? Did you really go and find people that identified as queer?" she said. "If you did then great, and if you didn't find anyone you liked in that pool, well, that's surprising. If you write a character that's trans, the time is now — cast a trans actor. There are tons of them and they're really f*cking good."

    14. When Lilly Singh came out as Bisexual.

    Singh looking at the camera and smiling
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    Lilly Singh's coming out was a huge moment in terms of representation for the South Asian queer community. "Maybe that’s the culture I was raised in or maybe it’s all in my head but either way for me it’s real. I’m so happy that my coming out has inspired so many people, but at the same time I am not oblivious to the fact that some find my truth disappointing or not ideal," she revealed in an Instagram post that marked one year of her coming out.

    15. JoJo Siwa coming out and becoming a part of the first same-sex couple on Dancing With the Stars with Jenna Johnson.

    "Dancing with the Stars" stars Jenna Johnson and JoJo Siwa holding hands and smiling
    Maarten De Boer / ABC via Getty Images

    In an interview with Teen Vogue, Siwa revealed, "I feel like, if it makes sense, there should be and will be multiple more same-sex pairings. I’m happy I got to be the first, but I would never expect to be the last. It’s something that can go on forever and ever … a straight male can dance with a straight male, or a straight male can dance with a gay male. I think it shouldn’t matter, it should be what every party is comfortable with."