For better or for worse, movies and TV are our lens into what everyone else considers "normal." Naturally, then, seeing LGBT rights represented on the telly is more important than ever before.
Our culture is collectively at a tipping point where LGBT rights are the norm for some and within the realm of possible acceptance for those who have been on the fence for eons. Thankfully, movie studios and TV producers are highlighting good ally behavior and healthy attitudes about LGBT rights.
Media stars are redefining the standards of love and friendship through addictive stories and we are all for it!
Recently, media producers have been gifting us with some of the most heart-wrenching TV moments. Here are our favorite on-screen allies that we can all strive to emulate.
Cyrus + Buffy, Andi Mack
If you haven't yet cut the cable cord yet, you may have access to the Disney Channel’s Andi Mack. The show follows Andi, her older sister, and a group of friends through everyday ups and downs. (We don't need to spell it out, right? We've all been through the horrors of puberty.)
In one episode, Buffy Driscoll – a secondary character – comes to realize that her friend Cyrus Goodman is gay. For such a young girl to be so aware and sensitive, viewers are left with all the warm and fuzzy feels.
When Cyrus comes out to her in her own time, he describes his feelings as “weird and different.” Buffy replies, “you’ve always been weird, but you’re not different.” Buffy's unconditional support exemplifies what being an ally truly means.
We have to give credit where credit is due: way to go, Disney. Thanks to the big mouse in the house, LGBT rights are front-and-center in young adult TV – and we're so glad for it.
Tess + Randall & Beth, This Is Us
NBC’s This Is Us has been pulling at the nation's heartstrings since season one. As if it's not enough for them to turn us into blubbering emotional wrecks with every episode, they hit a home run with their depiction of a particular coming-out scene.
Tess finds her parents, Randall and Beth, in the kitchen one day and musters up the courage to tell them that she is a lesbian. While viewers nibbled their nails to the nubs wondering how they would react, NBC told us to chill. It's 2019, after all.
Randall's and Beth's reactions were magical. In a seemingly coordinated swoop of stellar parenting, the mom and dad step up to the plate as true allies. Tess's father dispels her tears by assuring her, “We’re your parents; we’re here to help you.”
Suddenly, the stormy clouds of emotional turmoil parted and Tess's anxiety melted away. Cue the water works for us viewers. This Is Us shows that parents can be the best allies a young LGBT teen needs.
Cheryl Blossom + Toni Topaz + Veronica Lodge, Riverdale
If you grew up in the '80s and '90s, you're likely familiar with the comic book series Archie & the Gang. Now, our favorite 50s-ish characters have gone 3D and are oh so modern.
The CW’s dark drama series Riverdale, centers around a group of high school teenagers (based on the cooky comic books, of course) and the mysteries that surround them. Left on its third season, the show is filled with shocking scenes, hints of horror, and teenage romance.
Among the many complex plotlines is the sexuality story of Cheryl Blossom. A popular cheerleader and daughter of way-out-of-touch parents, Cheryl eventually realizes that she's bisexual. Sadly, Cheryl's mother is apauled and sends her to a conversion therapy convent to be "fixed" (as if!).
While this was one of the show's most controversial episodes, it was an eye-opening portrayal of the archaic idea that LGBT individuals can simply "pray away the gay." Realizing her friend was in trouble, Veronica Lodge recruits Cheryl's love interest, the sharp and spunky Toni Topaz, to rescue her from the convent.
You'll have to tune in (and you'll thank us for it) to find out how Cheryl's story unfolds, but we want to take a moment to tip our hats to The CW for shedding light on this powerful issue and giving us a glowing example of excellent ally behavior: Veronica Lodge. Riverdale shows just how much courage and bravery it takes to stand up for LGBT rights.
Denise + Dev, Master of None
If cable isn't your jam, don't worry. Netflix has LGBT rights covered, too. In the Netflix Original show Master of None, viewers are ushered through a maze of comedy and drama as they prowl the streets of New York City with a cast of colorful characters.
Denise (played by Lena Waithe) is best friends with the main character, Dev Shah (played by Aziz Ansari). Denise identifies as an African-American lesbian woman who, in one episode, comes out to her mother. While most of Master of None is dedicated to chasing Dev around the NYC, this and other episodes give a deliberate amount of time and attention to Denise as she navigated this uncharted territory.
During these episodes, Dev is the ultimate ally. Although his character is straight and male, we see him being a solid friend and happy wingman when his lesbian, female friend needs him most.
Wins for LGBT Rights
The media is a weather vane of our collective culture. What we see on television is often a reflection of real-world events and challenges. In recent years, TV and movie producers have stepped up to give more attention to the very real and widespread issues LGBT individuals face and the LGBT rights we should all be demanding.