17 Important Black Bi/Lesbian TV Characters

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As LGBT visibility grows on television, we are able to see more kinds of lesbian and bi women depicted in some of our favorite shows. More often than not, most of these characters are still white. But with writers, producers and showrunners looking to bring realistic and complex people to light comes better representation, and in honor of Black History Month, we’re celebrating 17 black queer female characters who have furthered the conversation about what lesbian and bi women look like.

The answer: There’s no one way to be a lesbian, just like there’s no one way to be black, or Latina, or anything else.

Kima Greggs, The Wirekima

The out lesbian detective (played by Sonja Sohn) was a major role on the HBO series. A strong character who was part of all five seasons, Kima dealt with issues at home, including a split from her partner, Cheryl, and alcoholism. Her imperfection made her a very real and endearing character.

Snoop Pearson, The Wire snoop

Felicia “Snoop” Pearson has a great story: A Baltimore native, the out lesbian was discovered by The Wire star Michael K. Williams while at a club and an introduction to the show’s writers got her an audition and eventual role. Snoop was the first regular black lesbian character to appear on television, and her arc was not about her sexuality, even though she was very clearly a stud.

Bette Porter, The L Wordbette

Jennifer Beals played the ultimate power lesbian who also happened to be multiracial on a (like it or not) pivotal show about lesbian lives and relationships. Her black sister and father factored prominently into her storyline, and racial issues were also part of her conceiving of a baby with on-again, off-again partner Tina.

Tasha Williams, The L Wordtasha

Rose Rollins brought the story of being closeted in the military to The L Word, and the story of Tasha’s life post-Marine career had her grappling with her unattractive career choices and how it affected her relationship with girlfriend, Alice.

Christina Worthy, 90210blwe-12-12-08-90210-cheerleader

Lauren London played a bisexual Beverly Hills high school cheerleader with a girlfriend. She was only on three episodes, but she was one of the first bisexual black teens to be on basic cable.

Fin, Lip Servicefin

Lorraine Burroughs was an electrician that lived across from Tess, and though they hit it off at first, they later broke up after finding they had no real shared interests. She appeared in only four episodes, but was the only woman of color on the Scottish lesbian series.

Maya St. Germain, Pretty Little Liarsmaya

Bianca Lawson played the bisexual, weed smoking love interest to Emily Fields before she met her untimely end. Maya has made post-humus appearances through her website, and her importance to Emily and the mystery of A continues to be a part of the show. The Emaya relationship signaled a sea change for ABC Family and their continued inclusiveness of queer characters and storylines.

Tara Thornton, True Bloodtara

Rutina Wesley‘s brash waitress-turned-vampire made a move to New Orleans that introduced her to her first girlfriend, Naomi. After their split and Tara’s return to Bon Temps, she continued to have an interest in women, most notably her maker, Pam.

Tyra Dupre, Emily Owens M.D.Emily and..the Outbreak

Kelly McCreary was star Mamie Gummer’s on-screen lesbian BFF on this short-lived CW series. She begins the season closeted from her father but has even more drama with him once she finds out he’s cheating on her mother with a nurse at the hospital they both work at.

Shana King, Pretty Little Liarsshana

Aériel Miranda played Shana as a flirtatious Halloween store worker who was, much like everyone else in Rosewood, secretly involved with the mysteries of A. She dated both Paige and Jenna before Aria shot her.

Diana Berrigan, White Collardiana

Marsha Thomason‘s special agent Diana had ups and downs in her personal life. At first, she was happy and engaged with Christie. Later, they broke it off and Diana’s role on the show was significantly smaller and relegated to her professional relationship with Peter and Neal. Despite it all, she was one of USA’s very few LGBT characters across the board.

Lena Adams Foster, The Fosterslena

Sherri Saum is co-matriach TV’s only family headed up by two women. Her relationship with Teri Polo‘s Stef is revolutionary in its normalizing of lesbian mothers and integrated families, as The Fosters have biological and adopted children among their brood.

Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, Orange is the New Blackcrazy-eyes

Uzo Aduba has now won countless awards for her portrayal of a wacky but lovable inmate at Litchfield. Her queerness is part of her appeal, even when she’s sharing her unabashed obsession over Piper or another woman bunking nearby.

Poussey Washington, Orange is the New Blackpoussey

Season 2 of the series gave us more Samira Wiley, and we were glad for it. Viewers saw Poussey’s life as an army brat and how a broken heart and betrayal came to get her into trouble. Her unrequited crush on BFF Taystee is a tale many lesbians know all too well.

Carolyn Hill, Under the Domecarolyn

Aisha Hinds survived two seasons of the CBS series thus far, although most of Season 2 had her incapacitated. She lost her wife, Alice, in Season 1, but her daughter, Norrie, remains a big part of the show and hopefully Carolyn will be utilized more and their relationship further explored on screen.

Scotty, Banana/Cucumberscotty

The UK series won’t come across the pond until April, but Letitia Wright plays a young lesbian whose interest in a much older married woman illustrates her romantic delusions, ones that her mother warns her against repeating yet again. Scotty has a great relationship with her sick mother, and Scotty is her caretaker when not working at the grocery store or hanging out with her mixed bag of friends.

Tiana, Empiretiana

A pop star on the rise, Tiana (Serayah McNeill) doesn’t seem to mind that the tabloids have gotten wind of her relationship with girlfriend, India. While it’s not yet clear what her intentions are with Hakeem, she appears to be quite happy with her partner and not looking for anything serious outside of it, unless it’s to keep up appearances. Interestingly, this show could parallel some real life music industry happenings and the soapy Empire has us excited to see what will happen the rest of the season.

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