Needless to say representation is important, and it is vital to see queer characters on the big screen. It is also obviously vital for good queer representation, viewing multi-faceted characters with various sexualities who are complex like yourself. From the iconic to the relatable, here are some our writers’ favourite queer film characters:
Dr. Frank N. Furter – The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a monumental LGBTQ+ film, breaking what we know of gender boundaries and also being a fantastic watch all at the same time. The film was released in 1975, so some of the language and portrayal of trans and gender non-conforming individuals are questionable. However, the immense impact the character of Dr. Frank N. Furter had on the queer community is something that cannot be ignored. Dr. Furter’s sex positive message may have helped many people come out – watching this film as a young queer woman helped me accept my queerness and my gender non-conforming ways. Watching Dr. Furter prance around whilst singing ‘I’m just a sweet transvestite from transsexual Transylvania’ normalised queerness on a major screen. We are unsure on Dr. Furter’s actual gender identity as the character is played by a cis male, but the idea that this character can be all genders and none is what makes this such a powerful character to watch onscreen.
The gender-bending role is further identified when trans icon Laverne Cox played Dr. Frank N. Furter in the 2016 production. Having a trans woman play this role added more layers to an already complex character, and it was powerful seeing a trans woman take on this fascinating character, also conveying the power Dr. Furter had on the queer community.
By Morgan McMillan
Valkyrie – Thor Ragnorok (2017)
Portrayed by queer actress Tessa Thompson in the third Thor movie in the MCU, Valkyrie is one of the many Marvel heroes in its comics that is shown to be queer. In the Asgardian’s case, Valkyrie is bisexual.
Thompson herself said that during the scene where her character watched fellow Valkyries die to Cate Blanchet’s Hela, that the woman who died in an act of self-sacrifice was likely Valkyrie’s lover. Officially, deleted scenes from Thor: Ragnarok marks the Asgardian as the first LGBTQ hero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they weren’t anticipated as deleted scenes; executive meddling on Marvel’s behalf meant that it was all removed from the final piece.
With Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi on board to direct the fourth movie titled Thor: Love and Thunder, both actor and director have said that the new King of Asgard’s quest will be to find her Queen. With no main queer characters yet making their appearance in the franchise (even after a decade and attempts by cast and crew) for such a plotline is a powerful moment of representation in aworldwide beloved franchise.
By Louise Chase
Milo – The Skeleton Twins (2014)
I hadn’t heard of The Skeleton Twins (dir, Craig Johnson) until one of my close friends thrust it under my nose due to me being a die hard Bill Hader fan – kinda embarrassed that I hadn’t seen it until then. Milo, whom Hader portrays, is a character struggling with past trauma and crippling depression. His introductions shows him drinking himself away after his boyfriend left him which triggers a suicide attempt in one of the films early scenes. Being a failed actor on top of this highlights this character as far from perfect, as is his twin in the film, Maggie. However, one of my favourite things about Milo’s character is how imperfect he is and the vulnerability we see in his character. Hader’s performance is one of stunning nuances and overwhelming emotion and as we delve deeper into past relationships – many containing unhealthy dynamics – it only becomes more apparent that Milo is chasing unrealistic and dangerous desires. It’s a representation of not only the LGBT community but of harrowing traumas and depression, with hints of incredibly dark humour. Milo is a multi-faceted homosexual man with unhealthy coping mechanisms, in a shockingly real and raw representation of sexuality and mental health.
By Olivia Dellar
Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya – Birds of Prey (2020)
Birds of Prey has been criticised for its lack of portrayal for its gay and bisexual characters, however I personally thought the way the film dealt with queerness was fantastically done. Take Harley Quinn in the prologue – we see a glimpse of Quinn dating a woman, her bisexuality not becoming plot or a small storyline for the film but instead being treated the same way as Quinn’s other insignificant relationships. It wasn’t treated as abnormal but normalised, something that would be unecessary to delve into because of its unimportance in terms of understanding her character.
We also have more queer representation with character Renee Montoya, an openly gay woman who broke up with her girlfriend Ellen Yee. Again, this plot isn’t overly delved into as it isn’t important to the character’s story but is instead treated the same way a heterosexual relationship would be treated. The normalisation of queerness is what’s so powerful about Birds of Prey – we aren’t listening to another story of how being gay hindered their lives but instead it’s being treated exactly the same way as heterosexual relationships, which is needed for the queer community. We are not any different than a straight couple and the movie playing out queerness this way is what makes it a great portrayal.
by Morgan McMillan
Carol Aird – Carol (2015)
The elegantly classy Carol Aird stood out to me the instant I watched Todd Haynes’ beautifully directed feature film Carol (2015), and is a character I remember to this day as one who resonates with the struggle of individuals who feel bound within their society. Carol’s character, who is forced to repress her sexuality, goes on a journey of the most brilliant character development throughout the expanse of the film. Portrayed by the incredible Cate Blanchett, Carol begins the narrative as an upper-class mother who is trapped in a loveless marriage and transforms into someone who is able to accept themselves for who they really are. It’s amazing to see portrayals like that in Carol which take on societal boundaries of LGBT+ individuals and break these through high-quality narratives and performances.