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From Queer Eye to Drag Race, these were the 10 best LGBT television moments of the decade

Reiss Smith December 31, 2019
Elektra Abundance, RuPaul and Tiffany Pollard

Three of the most iconic moments of the past decade. (FX/WoW/Channel 5)

The queer agenda took over our screens in the 2010s, with more LGBT+ characters on screens at the decade’s end than ever before. Here, we list 10 of our favourite TV moments from the past 10 years.

There are many things that the 2010s will be remembered for. Brexit. Trump. Britney Spears tweeting about global warming and Lady Gaga. But for LGBT+ people, it will go down in history as the decade that TV turned well and truly gay.

The industry seems to have finally woken up to the fact that queer people are superior in every way, rewarding us for years spent putting up with straight nonsense like Top Gear by giving us a wealth of detailed, nuanced representation. GLAAD recently reported that the 2019/20 season is the most inclusive in history, with a record-breaking number of LGBT+ characters on scripted shows.

The reality genre also turned its attention towards our community, with two of the biggest shows in the world right now – Drag Race and Queer Eye – placing LGBT+ talent front and centre. And of course, there was no shortage of cheap but oh-so-satisfying moments which, thanks to the unstoppable rise of social media, are made immortal as memes. It’s a tall task to pick just 10 of the best TV moments, but we’ve given it our best shot.

1. When Laverne Cox gave us all an anatomy lesson on Orange is the New Black. 

When Orange is the New Black arrived in 2013, television was a very different place. Streaming was in its infancy, stories about queer women of colour were practically non-existent, Donald Trump was the host of The Apprentice. The Netflix series kick-started a revolution diverse storytelling and the way in which we consume television.

Funny, tender, harrowing and heartbreaking, the it educated viewers on important issues such as police brutality, the immigration crisis and – in one memorable scene – the anatomy of the vulva. Sophia Burset (Laverne Cox) gave us all a detailed, accurate and brilliant break-down of “where the pee comes from” in one of many light-hearted moments that proved a trans characters’ storyline needn’t solely revolve around their gender.

2. ‘David’s dead’

David Bowie’s death in 2016 left an unfillable hole in the hearts of the LGBT+ community. He was an androgynous ally, a role model for kids who felt like they didn’t fit into mainstream society. His loss was a tragedy, but with this particularly dark cloud came a silver lining in the most unexpected of places: the Celebrity Big Brother house.

At the time of Bowie’s passing, his ex-wife Angie Bowie was competing in the Channel 5 reality show with stars including Tiffany Pollard and David Gest. After producers told Angie of the singer’s passing, she confided in Pollard that “David’s dead,” neglecting to clarify that it was Bowie, not Gest (who was conveniently asleep underneath a sleeping bag at the time) who had passed away. Tragicomedy ensued.

3. Kristen Stewart telling Trump ‘I’m Gay.’

One of Trump’s stranger penchants – aside from discriminating against trans women and boasting about hypothetical sexual assaults – is tweeting about Kristen Stewart. In 2012, when he was but a simple billionaire property mogul, he felt compelled to speak out on the actor’s relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. “Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart,” he wrote October 17, 2012. “She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again — just watch. He can do much better!” He returned to the topic several times, and six years later, Stewart addressed the tweets while hosting Saturday Night Live.

“Donald, if you didn’t like me then, you’re really probably not going to like me now because I’m hosting SNL and I’m so gay, dude,” she said. Same, tbh.

4. Patrick singing ‘Simply The Best’ to David on Schitt’s Creek.

There is nothing purer in this world than the love between Schitt’s Creek’s David Rose (Dan Levy) and Patrick Brewer (Noah Reid), the greatest couple on television right now. Take ‘Open Mic’ episode of season four, for example. Patrick decides to throw an open mic night to shore up some business at the store the couple co-own. David, ever sceptical, is mortified at the idea of his newly-christened boyfriend singing to a room full of strangers and arrives at the night in full-blown flight mode. But as Patrick breaks into an acoustic version of Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’, his cynicism melts away as he realises that he’s fallen head over heels in love. Watch, rewatch, and bookmark for times when you need reminding that the world isn’t all hellfire and brimstone.

5. Lorraine Kelly throwing entire mountains-worth of shade at Esther McVey.

At the start of the decade, “theatrical artist” Lorraine Kelly played the role of warm, bubbly breakfast show host. But in 2019, she snapped, live on air, delivering the most brutal “yeah” in humankind’s history.

Kelly was brought onscreen at the end of a Good Morning Britain interview, as she regularly is, to introduce a trail for her follow-on show. At the time, Tory MP Esther McVey was sat at the table with hosts Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid. “Do you remember Esther McVey?” Reid asked, to which Kelly grimaced and uttered a brief “yeah.” It was all tea, all shade from the host, who later clarified that she was offended by McVey’s archaic and incorrect stance on LGBT-inclusive education, giving us even more reasons to stan.

6. Steven Universe‘s trans allegory

Throughout its five-season run, Steven Universe (voiced by  Zach Callison) won plaudits for exploring themes of gender and sexuality. For many, it truly saved its best until last, with the series finale repositioning the entire plot line as an allegory for the trans experience. When Steven visits the Homeworld, where the concept of children doesn’t exist, its matriarchs can’t understand the idea that he is the child of Pink Diamond (Susan Egan). Rather, they see him as Pink Diamond herself. Steven being forced to explain that he is in fact a boy while being misgendered and misnamed struck a nerve with trans viewers who have lived through similar experiences, and educated cis fans who haven’t.

7. Sarah Harding’s bum note.

Things Sarah Harding did: miss that note entirely.

8. Elektra delivering the ultimate read on Pose.

When Ryan Murphy announced a new series picking up where Paris Is Burning left off, assembling the largest cast of trans actors ever to appear on a scripted show, the LGBT+ community was perched. Would his creations be able to fill the stiletto-heeled boots of legends like Venus Xtravaganza and Dorian Corey? In short, the answer is yes.

The series is a tender love letter to the ballroom community, remembering the queer people of colour who made the scene what it was, and the AIDS crisis that almost decimated it. Earnestness aside, it’s also full of brilliantly shady moments, with none better than this epic read courtesy of Elektra Abundance-Wintour (Dominique Jackson). Marvel at the way she decimates a transphobic country club diner for her “unwanted pregnancy,” “uniform of ill-fitting J.Crew culottes, fake pearls and 50 cent scrunchie” and “major in being a basic bitch.” It will clear your skin, restore your edges and nourish your soul.

9. Queer Eye‘s Fab Five meeting Jess Guilbeaux

Queer Eye has no right to be as good as it is.  On paper, a Netflix reboot of a 2003 makeover series should be a trainwreck, and yet the series has become of the streamer’s biggest successes. The show dropped the original series’ ‘for the straight guy’ conceit in order to platform a more diverse roster of heroes, and became all the better for it. Call us biased, but episodes centred around LGBT+ heroes are the best of the best. You can tell there’s genuine affection between the and their heroes, such as Jess Guilbeaux, a young black lesbian woman who was kicked out by her family after coming out aged 16. Jess teared up as she thanked the Fab Five for giving her back her confidence, and were right alongside her, sobbing our hearts out.

10. Every second of RuPaul’s Drag Race

If there’s one TV programme that’s defined the decade, it is RuPaul’s Drag Race. Over 11 seasons, five All Stars editions and a UK spin-off, the show has propelled the art of drag into the mainstream like never before, and with it, made stars of 150 LGBT+ performers. It’s far from perfect – queer women are woefully underrepresented and there are complicated issues with the way queens of colour are treated on and off-screen – but the fact that one of the biggest shows in the world is gay, gay, gay is really quite something. It’s impossible to pick just one stand-out moment: does Sasha Velour’s rose petal wig reveal have more merit than Roxxxy Andrews’ emotional bus-stop confession? Is the Alyssa Edwards-Tatianna lip-sync more iconic than Manila Luzon’s unhinged MacArthur Park? Will we ever tire of rewatching Laganja Estranja feeling very attacked? These are all questions that are impossible to answer, but regardless, Drag Race is the epitome of queer TV and possibly all of culture, ever.

More: Big Brother, Drag Race, Girls Aloud, Kristen Stewart, Lorraine Kelly, orange is the new black, pose, queer eye, Schitt’s Creek, steven universe

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