15 Black Lesbian/Bisexual Characters We Love

Orange is the New Black/Netflix

Orange is the New Black/Netflix

According to historians, President Gerald R. Ford officially recognized Black History Month in 1976, calling upon the public to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout history.”

Since then, every U.S. President has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month, or National African American History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating Black history.

Some may argue that African Americans are still misrepresented or not represented at all in several fields, including television and film. I won’t argue there.

However, I must thank movies such as, “Hairspray,” “A Time To Kill,” “The Green Mile,” “12 Years a Slave,” “The Help,” “Selma,” “Race,” “Hidden Figures,” and many more, for expanding my knowledge about the Civil Rights Movement, and painting at least some of the picture of the oppression black people have endured throughout the years.

The same can be said about the LGBT community. With writers, producers and show runners looking to bring realistic and complex LGBT stories to light, the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters has grown significantly in the last couple of years.

Thanks to them, today we can talk about “Rent,” “The L Word,” “True Blood,” “Pretty Little Liars,” “Orange is the New Black,” “The Fosters,” “Black Mirror,” “Sense8,” “Pariah,” “She Hate Me,” and many other productions that have contributed to the growth of the LGBT community’s visibility in theater, film and television.

One thing that the productions mentioned above have in common is the presence of both communities in their storylines, which is hopefully an upward trend. Black lesbians in particular need more representation on TV and in film, as a largely underrepresented group. In honor of Black History Month, we are celebrating these Black lesbian and bisexual female characters with the recognition they deserve – not just this month, but all year round.

1.  Joanne Jefferson, Rent

Tracie Thoms gives life to the successful lawyer who falls madly in love with the irresistible bohemian Maureen Johnson, played by Idina Menzel.

2. Bette Porter, The L Word

Jennifer Beals played the ultimate power lesbian in one of the first shows created by lesbians for lesbians. In the Showtime original, Bette was described as multiracial and her black sister and father factored prominently into her storyline. Racial issues were also explored throughout the show’s 6 seasons.

3. Tasha Williams, The L Word

Rose Rollins was chosen to take on a subject that could still be considered taboo: being gay in the military.

4. Tara Thorton, True Blood

In this HBO original, Rutina Wesley became Tara, a waitress-turned-vampire who discovers her affection for the ladies after running away from Bon Temps. Her love story ends in the arms of her maker, Pam, played by Kristin Bauer van Straten.

5. Maya St. Germain, Pretty Little Liars

Bianca Lawson played Emily Fields’ second love – we all know by now that Ali was her first – in the Freeform original series. Even though their romance was short-lived, it opened the door to more queer characters and storylines.

6. Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren, Orange is the New Black

Uzo Aduba continues to amaze us with her amazing portrayal of the lovable/wacky inmate at Litchfield. We would totally throw our pie for her!

7. Poussey Washington, Orange is the New Black

SPOILER ALERT! We were all heartbroken when Samira Wiley was killed off the Netflix original series at the end of season 4. After getting to know her background story during season 2, she became one of our favorite Litchfield inmates. Having black lesbian characters represented on the show made us love OITNB even more!

8. Lena Adams Foster, The Fosters

Sherri Saum and Teri Polo took on the task to become the first on-screen lesbian couple to head a family show. The Fosters shows the dynamics of lesbian/gay biracial, and integrated families.

9. Kelly, Black Mirror

Gugu Mbatha-Raw decides to follow her heart and spend eternity with her lesbian lover Yorkie, played by Mackenzie Davis, in this heartbreaking Black Mirror episode. Definitely a must-watch!

10. Amanita, Sense8

Freema Agyeman is perhaps the most amazing girlfriend on TV right now. You think it’s hard being in a relationship? Add 7 more minds to the equation! Nomi Marks (Jamie Clayton) really won the lottery with this one!

11. Alike, Pariah

Adepero Oduye stars in a film that has been rightfully celebrated for its tender coming-out and coming-of-age story of a shy yet sexually curious 17-year-old African-American girl.

12. Fatima Goodrich, She Hate Me

Throwing it back to the 2004 Spike Lee’s film, where Kerry Washington and Dania Ramirez decide to start a family by using a sperm donor.

13. Bessie Smith, Bessie

Queen Latifah gives life to legendary American blues singer Bessie Smith in this HBO original production. The film focuses on her transformation as a struggling young singer into “The Empress of the Blues,” and openly discusses her bisexuality.

14. Celie Johnson, The Color Purple

Whoopi Goldberg falls for Shug Avery (Margaret Avery) in this movie classic. Even though Celie and Shug seem to have a more open sexual relationship in the pages of Alice Walker’s acclaimed novel, Steven Spielberg and Broadway decided to take a much more subtle approach to their love connection in the 1985 film and the most recent musical revival. Thoughts on this?

15. Ros Bailey, 50 Shades Darker

This is what Robinne Lee had to say about her involvement in one of the most controversial film adaptations in the last couple of years: “It’s interesting to take on this role that was what would it be like to be a black lesbian running a business in Seattle. I had to sort of write my own back story. It was really interesting to step into someone else’s shoes while we were filming.”

What do you think? Who would you add to the list?

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