June is Pride month, and what better way to mark it than by celebrating LGBTQ couples on screen? Here are seven of the best LGBTQ couples in film and TV.
Aaron and Eric (The Walking Dead)
Though Aaron and Eric aren’t the only LGBTQ characters in The Walking Dead, and though they weren’t the show’s first, they are the show’s only long-term LGBTQ couple. Having met before the zombie apocalypse, the couple were together up until Eric’s death and his subsequent transformation into a walker.
Falling victim to the controversial “Bury Your Gays” trope, which sees gay characters killed off often after a moment of happiness or consummation of a same-sex relationship, Eric nonetheless lasted a full three and a bit seasons. During which time, he was in a happy relationship with Aaron. Eric’s eventual passing was a heartbreaking moment. Actor Ross Marquand, who plays Aaron, told FANDOM in advance of the reveal of Eric’s fate that losing his boyfriend would “destroy” Aaron. We’re yet to see the full impact.
Susan and Carol (Friends)
Carol Willick, Ross’s first ex-wife in Friends, left David Schwimmer’s paleontologist after realising she was a lesbian when she met Susan. At the time, Carol was pregnant with Ross’s child and had made the decision to raise the child with Susan. She invited Ross to be as involved as he wanted to be.
This storyline kicked off right from the start of the hugely popular sitcom. The year was 1994. But it was Season 2 Episode 11, “The One with the Lesbian Wedding”, that featured one of the most groundbreaking moments in the show. Ross ends up giving his ex-wife away at the lesbian wedding in question after Carol’s parents refuse to attend. It was one of the first mainstream depictions of gay marriage on US TV and the most-watched TV show during the week it first aired.
Stamets and Culber (Star Trek: Discovery)
The relationship between Anthony Rapp’s Lt Paul Stamets and Wilson Cruz’s Dr Hugh Culber was the first same-sex coupling in the Star Trek franchise. They’re also the only two characters in Star Trek history to share a tooth-brushing scene. Pioneering stuff. Their stable relationship took a serious knock, however, when Culber, like The Walking Dead’s Eric, also appeared to fall at the hands of the “Bury Your Gays” trope.
But, according to Discovery’s showrunners, death is not the end for the pairing they refer to as “the married couple” (rather than “the gay married couple”). Indeed, the series’ mycelial network – a kind of gateway to everywhere, including alternate realities — allowed a reunion between the two after Culber’s death at the hands of Ash Tyler/Voq.
Nomi and Amanita (Sense 8)
Sense 8 is the Wachowski’s sci-fi series about eight strangers who are psychically connected. And while the slowly unfolding tale gained a passionate cult following, it was the diversity of the cast and its characters that was most remarkable. One of the show’s most memorable LGBTQ couples is Nomi and Amanita. Nomi is a trans woman, played by trans actor Jamie Clayton, who is both a hacktivist and one of the Sensates, while Amanita, played by Freema Agyeman, is a pansexual book-shop worker who is also good at hacking.
They have an open and affectionate relationship. The series culminated recently in a two-and-a-half-hour finale featuring an inclusive wedding between the pair, followed by an orgy. “This wedding is proof that for all the differences between us and all the forces that try to divide us, they will never exceed the power of love to unite us,” says the wedding officiant during the episode.
Colin and Barry (Eastenders)
Back in 1986, UK soap opera Eastenders introduced their first on-screen gay character, Colin Russell. Soon after, Barry arrived and so followed Eastenders’ first gay couple. The pair even shared the UK’s first ever gay kiss in a soap opera.
Colin (Michael Cashman) and Barry (Gary Hailes) were a mismatched couple. And not only because Colin was portrayed as a middle-class yuppie and Barry a Cockney barrow-boy, but also because of the 27-year age difference.
Colin initially kept his sexuality secret before Barry moved in – at which point people, including launderette worker Dot Cotton, started making their objections known. When the police discovered that Barry was under the legal age of consent when he moved in with Colin they decided to inform his parents. This led to Barry breaking things off with Colin for fear of his homophobic father.
Their relationship was used to draw attention to gay issues including homophobia and legal inequality among other things.
Aaron and David (Neighbours)
Long-running Australian soap Neighbours is currently gearing up for its first gay wedding. Indeed, it will be the first same-sex wedding on Australian TV since same-sex marriage was legalised in Oz in December 2017. And it’s for this groundbreaking reason that we include Aaron and David in this list.
Series producer Sara Richardson said, “Watching the romance blossom between these two characters has been a heartwarming journey.”
Executive producer Jason Herbison, meanwhile, said, “Ever since the days of Scott and Charlene, Neighbours viewers have loved a wedding — and it’s high time a gay couple had the chance to walk down the aisle. The passing of same-sex marriage means all our characters, gay or straight, have the chance to celebrate their love, as it should be.”
James and Caleb (Shortbus)
Not actually a romantic — or long-term, rather — couple in John Cameron Mitchell’s 2006 film, Shortbus, James and Caleb make this list because of the therapy Caleb is able to offer James after his suicide attempt. And the really moving moment the two share in the clip above.
In the film, Caleb is neighbour to actual couple James and Jamie, and stalks them, living vicariously through them. When Caleb intercedes in James’s suicide attempt and saves his life, James is compelled to open up to Caleb. Caleb’s intervention helps James to heal, and he’s able to start moving forward with Jamie.
Throughout, the film depicts a number of different relationships and real, explicit sex in an effort to explore sex in an impactful and meaningful way outside of pornography. It strives to equate emotional problems with sexual issues, showing ultimately that once sexual blockages are overcome, so too are emotional matters.
Honourable mention also goes to Alan Mendell’s turn as former New York mayor Ed Koch and Jay Brannan’s much younger Ceth. The pair have a beautiful moment at the end of the film, in which Koch talks about his role in the AIDS crisis, and being scared and impermeable. The two share a touching kiss.