LGBTQ+ TV had its ups and downs in 2022.
It was a year of unequivocal wins for queer representation, with some of the world’s most-talked about shows featuring prominent LGBTQ+ actors and storylines, from Heartstopper to Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon.
From scripted to reality, every genre had its LGBTQ+ success stories. But there were also low points, in particular a brutal swathe of cancellations for fledgling queer series like First Kill, Fate: The Winx Saga, Batwoman and Gentleman Jack.
While networks (Netflix, in particular) have a lot to answer for on that front, for now, let’s celebrate some of the year’s biggest and best LGBTQ+ TV moments.
Doctor Who getting an LGBTQ+ makeover
Ncuti Gatwa and Yasmin Finney are among the many names announced for the new era of Doctor Who. (BBC/Yellow Belly)
This year saw Russell T Davies announce his return as Doctor Who showrunner – heralding a queer new era for the show.
Both have already solidified their status as queer icons, with Gatwa playing Eric, a sassy gay teenager in Sex Education and Yasmin Finney being… well Yasmin Finney.
She’ll make her Doctor Who debut playing the first trans companion in the main TV series – the cryptically named Rose – opposite Tennant and Catherine Tate.
After a trio of special episodes, Gatwa will then take the reins as the Fifteenth Doctor. He’s providing top-notch content with an epic outfit reveal, showing off his kick-ass bright orange outfit.
Speaking about Gatwa’s star quality, Davies said he “dazzled us, seized hold of the Doctor and owned those TARDIS keys in seconds”. What more could we ask for?
Jill Scott winning the Euros and I’m a Celeb for the gays
Jill Scott wins I’m a Celebrity… (ITV)
It’s been a big year for the gays, in particular newly-minted national treasre Jill Scott. The footballer became a household name as she ended a glittering sporting career by just casually winning the Euros.
Scott then went on to cement her place in LGBTQ+ history by winning I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here.
As the first queer woman to win the series she used her platform to speak about her experiences of coming out and inspiring a generation.
“I think when you get to the point where it’s like not a question… in my head, it’s just simple, you find someone, you fall in love with them, it it’s a woman, a man, but I don’t think it defines you at all,” she said in the jungle.
That coming out scene in Big Boys
If you didn’t shed a tear during the heartfelt coming out scene in Jack Rooke’s hit channel 4 show Big Boys, then go and watch it again. Now.
The series, based on Rooke’s own experiences, was a critical darling, even winning the PinkNews Award for Best Drama (jointly with Adam Kay’s This Is Going To Hurt).
The final episode saw Jack (Dylan Llewellyn) building up the courage to come out to his mum Peggy (Camille Coduri).
The scene is particularly poignant as it explored Jack’s grief at never being able to come out to his late dad.
“I always find it really odd that I never got to come out to my dad. And it’s a strange one because I don’t like the idea of coming out – I think it’s old fashioned and blah, blah – but, at the same time, God, I wish I could come out to him,” Rooke told PinkNews at the time.
It even made it onto a Gogglebox Pride episode saw celebrities rooting for Jack and sharing their own coming-out stories.
With a second season secured, here’s hoping for more in the new year.
The Heartstopper cast shows up at London Pride. (Getty)
Speaking of wholesomeness, no list about the best LGBTQ+ TV moments is complete without mentioning the cultural waves Heartstopper made this year.
Based on the graphic novel series by Alice Oseman, the Netflix series follows the sweet love story between Nick Nelson (Kit Connor) and Charlie Spring (Joe Locke) as they navigate secondary school.
Heartstopper also introduced the word to the absolute force that is Yasmin Finney, with its rich ensemble cast, showcasing trans joy in her character Elle, as well as sapphic relationships with Tara and Darcy, and found families galore.
Heartstopper’s sensation Yasmin Finney. (Getty Images/Hollie Adams)
While Finney is undoubtedly the breakout star, the whole Heartstopper cast have become instant queer icons – not least for their display of shouting at bigots during the London Pride parade.
The show has been renewed for two more seasons so we will see our faves on screen again soon enough.
The Traitors saving reality TV
The Traitors is a late but strong entry to 2022’s best LGBTQ+ TV moments.
The Claudia Winkleman-fronted series has delivered some top-class moments, from its general camp energy and high drama to its diverse casting, with a number of LGBTQ+ contestants.
Delivering the full breadth of queer drama, Theo brought the emotion, Jon brought the sass and Andrea brought her wisdom as a queer elder – while newly-minted gay icon Amanda cemented herself in the reality TV hall of fame.
The show is proof that moving away from Love Island-style casting in favour of people from all walks of life makes for genuinely gripping TV.
Jordan Gray stripping naked on Channel 4
Trans comedian Jordan Gray has had a big year, taking Edinburgh Fringe Festival by storm to win rave reviews for their show.
Soon enough Gray was invited on to Channel 4’s Friday Night Live, where she showcased trans joy by stripping naked during a musical performance, sparking a lot of discourse and becoming the third most complained about TV moment to Ofcom this year.
While most people praised Gray for her gutsy moves, she also managed to stir some anger among right-wing bigots – which is always the sign of a good move.
Speaking about why she did it, she told PinkNews: “It’s not a long clinical conversation about what it means to be a man and a woman. It’s a large nude person just joyfully expressing themself. So everyone can get on board for that.”
Shea Couleé became first drag queen to be cast in the MCU
Shea Couleé will join the MCU in Disney+ series Ironheart. (Getty)
Drag Race legend Shea Couleé made headlines earlier this year after it was announced they would be the first drag queen to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
“It’s really so humbling to be able to cross over into a much more mainstream avenue, and push the needle forward as far as drag is concerned, in the way that it’s consumed and in pop culture,” she said at the time.
The queen will be joining the cast for the spin-off series Ironheart and many fans have already predicted which character she will be playing.
Shade aka Darkveil is a drag queen unveiled in the comics back in 2019 and is likely to be brought to life on screen.
And given Ironheart is also welcoming the first trans non-binary character to the MCU as well, played by Zoe Terakes, this is definitely a show to watch out for.
Drag Race All Stars is absolutely slaying it
Jinkx Monsoon was amazing as the iconic Judy Garland during the second round of the Snatch Game. (World of Wonder)
With a new Drag Race spin-off being announced every day, it’s difficult to keep track of every single season, but Drag Race All Star 7 was some of the best television this year.
Previous winners returned to do battle, and Jinkx Monsoon rose victorious after an absolutely glorious season.
In particular, the season’s Snatch Game was hailed as one of the most iconic ever with Jinkx absolutely killing it as the late and great Judy Garland.
Another standout from the season included Monet X Change werking every lip sync-battle they were served, but particularly the finale one. There was voguing and twerking galore.
The general consensus was that the calibre of All Stars 7 is going to be difficult to beat – and we definitely agree.
The White Lotus and Jennifer Coolidge dominating discourse
Jennifer Coolidge set screens alight in The White Lotus. (GC Images)
There were twists – most memorably, the bizarre uncle-nephew sex scene explained by creator Mike White as “transgressive” – there was drama, and tragically, there was death.
Season two may have been the last for Jennifer Coolidge, but at least 2022 saw her win her first-ever Emmy for her work on season one.
She’s already been nominated for a Golden Globe for her work on season two, along with the icon Aubrey Plaza, who made waves as the terminally unimpressed Harper. Sadly, the Globes didn’t recognise Meghann Fahy, who blew viewers away with her nuanced portrayal of Daphne. But hey, there’s always the Emmys.
That Euphoria finale
Class act: Zendaya in Euphoria. (HBO)
Zendaya delivered another standout performance as Rue this season, showing her journey with addiction and recovery.
She won plaudits for episode five in particular, which saw Rue on the run from the police, her mother and drug dealers, falling lower than ever.
The dark tone of the season divided fans and the finale was no different, with absolute chaos unfolding in an incredibly high-stakes last episode.
Thankfully a third season has been confirmed.
House of the Dragon not burying its gays
Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock) and Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey) share an intimate moment in House of the Dragon. (HBO/Sky)
There was a lot riding on HBO’s Game of Thrones prequel series, House of the Dragon, and boy did it deliver.
The first season came out to rave reviews, particularly for lead actors Emma D’Arcy, Olivia Cooke, Milly Alcock and Emily Carey.
The show was up and down with its LGBTQ+ representation. Aside from the very obvious sapphic tension (but never realised) between Rhaenyra and Alicent, we also met canonically gay character Ser Laenor Velaryon (John Macmillan).
The show really took him on a journey. In a classic move Laenor lost the love of his life after he was apparently murdered – but it didn’t end there.
In a surprise twist, Laenor got the happy ending he deserved by faking his death and running away with his new lover. It also confirmed Rhaenyra as an LGBTQ+ ally for supporting his truth.