It’s been a great Bisexual Visibility Month so far.
And just as we promised in our previous post, we’ll be sharing exciting, uplifting and carefully curated content in honour of the LGBTQ+ community.
Since we Euphoria folk live and breathe film, we’ve compiled a list of past and present LGBTQ+ figures in film we are thankful for. We’ll be exploring individuals who deserve recognition, from trailblazers to the unapologetically queer, looking to hand over the baton generations later.
Here are 20 LGBTQ+ film icons from the 20th and 21st centuries.
Openly bisexual and linked to women in the industry such as Greta Garbo and Billie Holiday. Primarily a stage actress, she also starred in films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat, for which she won a Best Actress award.
The son of coffin makers, the actor rose to fame quickly, transforming into a revered AMPAS (known as the Oscars in recent times) and Golden Globe Awards nominee. He discussed his bisexuality in an exclusive interview in 1972 and was in a six year long relationship with male actor Courtney Burr III, until his tragic murder in February 1976.
Born in 1910, Hollywood’s “queen of wisecracks” was openly a lesbian, referring to herself in an interview as a “dyke” and living with her long term girlfriend, actress Wilma Cox.
Diagnosed with AIDS in 1984, the Hollywood heartthrob, who acted in nearly 70 films, never publicly addressed his sexual orientation, though many of his contemporaries were aware that he was gay. His statement about his battle with the disease encouraged the general public to acknowledge the severity of the AIDS epidemic. His story is included as one of the storylines in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix show Hollywood.
Openly Bisexual French author Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette is best known for her 1944 novella Gigi, which inspired a film (1958) and a play (1973) of the same name. She is also credited with discovering Audrey Hepburn, who was only 22 at the time, on the French Riviera for the role of Gigi (its Broadway production). On January 3rd 1907, the author and actress shared an onstage kiss with masculine presenting crossdresser and minor French royalty Mathilde de Morny (sometimes known as “Uncle Max”) during a performance of the one-act pantomime play Rêve d’Égypte (Dream of Egypt) at the Moulin Rouge in Paris. What is widely acknowledged as the first on-stage lesbian kiss caused a riot in the theatre, culminating in the police threatening to shut down the Moulin Rouge. Though the couple were unable to continue to cohabit after this, they continued their relationship for five more years, until Colette remarried.
Though not a filmmaker himself, the playwright, born in 1935, was openly gay and wrote the groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band in 1968 about a group of gay men who gather for a birthday party in New York City. Two years later, it was adapted for film by William Friedkin, signalling one of the first motion pictures to revolve around gay characters, a major milestone in the history of queer cinema.
The director of Eat Pray Love (2010) and one of the co-creators and executive producers of the FX hit show Pose (2018), which features the highest number of transgender actors on scripted televesion. An ambassador of the LGBTQ+ community, the accomplished creator integrates queerness into most, if not all, of his projects e.g. Glee (2009), The Politician (2019) and Hollywood (2020).
With seven Emmy and five Golden Globe nominations under her belt, the talented actress, who has had roles in 12 Years a Slave, Ocean’s 8 and Bird Box, to name a few, is a queer icon to many.
Known for his prominent roles in world-famous films such as X Men: Days of Future Past and Christopher Nolan’s Inception and as the leading actor in films such as Juno and Whip It, one of Elliot’s most recent roles is as Vanya Hargreeves in the Netflix show, The Umbrella Academy. With the world watching, the transgender actor has been all smiles, settling into his true identity, all the while being embraced and supported by adoring fans.
The world’s highest paid actress in 2012, she has starred in roles in Twilight, American Ultra, Snowhite and the Huntsman and Charlie’s Angels. She is an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and has spoken about her sexuality several times in interviews, notably stating in 2017 that “you’re not confused if you’re bisexual”.
Famous for his roles in films such as Hidden Figures and The Boys in the Band and especially as Sheldon Cooper in the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. He went from earning $60,000 to $1 million per episode by the show’s eighth season, becoming one of the highest paid actors in the world.
The 22-year-old biracial actress is a fan favourite in the Gen Z community, having landed roles in The Hunger Games, Everything Everything and The Hate U Give. Coming out as bisexual in 2016, she admitted to battling internalised homphobia, which delayed her acceptance of the fact that she is gay rather than bisexual.
An outspoken transgender rights activist, the English actor, screenwriter and director specialises in films that are centred on transgender issues. He also starred in the Colette biopic alongside Keira Knightley as French playwright Gaston Arman de Caillavet.
Saturday Night Live comedian and actress (also appearing in films such as the 2016 remake of Ghostbusters) came out publicly at the Golden Globe Awards in 2020 when presenting Ellen DeGeneres with the Carol Burnett Award. She emphasized the importance of representation during her speech and gave thanks to Ellen for being that figure to look up to. “…If I hadn’t seen her on TV, I would have thought, I could never be on TV, they don’t let LGBTQ people be on TV. More than that, I would’ve gone on thinking that I was an alien, and that I maybe didn’t even have a right to be here.”
The transgender actress is acclaimed for her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix show Orange is the New Black, for which she was nominated for an NAACP Award and two Primetime Emmy Awards (becoming the first transgender person to be nominated in any acting category in the history of the show).
A BAFTA, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winner, the English actor plays the recurring character Q in the James Bond films Skyfall, Spectre and No Time To Die (upcoming) and has also starred in films such as Suffragette and the comedy-drama show, A Very English Scandal. He has been married to his husband, Australian composer Mark Bradshaw, since 2012.
The bisexual Afro-Latinx actress has played numerous roles across film and television, most notably as Valkyrie in Marvel Cinematic Universe films Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Endgame, Bianca in Creed and Charlotte Hale and Dolores Abernathy in Westworld. Though her Asgardian warrior character Valkyrie is bisexual like the actor who plays her, a vital scene shot for Thor: Ragnarok which refers to the character’s bisexuality was cut out of the film.
Cast as Spock in the Star Trek film franchise, the gay actor has also appeared in films like Ryan Murphy’s The Boys in the Band. He came out publicly in October 2011, feeling compelled to do so by the “huge spate of teen suicides” in the gay community at the time attributed to bullying.
The former makeup artist made her television debut as co-host on the VH1 show TRANSform Me (starring and produced by Laverne Cox) in 2010. She is famous for her roles as Nomi Marks in Netflix’s incredibly diverse show Sense8 and as Sasha Booker in the third season of Designated Survivor.
There are a lot of LGBTQ+ moments to be proud of, from Colette and Mathilde’s sapphic kiss on stage at the turn of the 20th century to the retelling of queer Hollywood history in Ryan Murphy’s 2020 show Hollywood. It’s probably not too late to mention that many queer women in film at the time (including Tallulah Bankhead) were members of “The Sewing Circle”, referring to a group of mostly discreet lesbian and bisexual actresses in Hollywood during its golden age.
We are glad to see the need for secrecy diminish when it comes to sexuality in film and television these days.
To add to your undoubtedly long list of must-watch films (you’re welcome), especially having made it through this post, are exclusive Bohemia Euphoria titles I Am Samuel (in addition to a corresponding Q&A with the documentary’s director, producer and chief interview subject) and The Greenhouse.
Stay tuned for more excellent LGBTQ+ content!