Last month, GLAAD announced the nominees for the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards. This year’s nominees feature fair, accurate, and inclusive portrayals of LGBTQ people and issues in a variety of categories, including several impactful projects that highlight the lesbian community. Projects that showcase the lesbian community can be found across a variety of categories, including Outstanding Film – Wide Release, Outstanding Film – Limited Release, Outstanding Drama Series, and several others.
In GLAAD’s 2019-2020 Where We Are on TV Report, broadcasting, cable and streaming all saw an increase in the percentage of lesbian characters from the past year. In regards to lesbian representation, broadcast saw a significant increase year-over-year to 33 percent (40) of regular and recurring LGBTQ characters. Lesbian representation is up significantly on cable year-over-year, up from 53 to 65 characters or 30 percent of LGBTQ regular and recurring cable characters. Lesbians make up 30 percent (46) of the 153 characters on streaming, which is a decrease of three percentage points from the previous year but an increase of nine characters.
Batwoman is nominated for Outstanding Drama series for it’s first time this year after premiering on the CW in 2019. Ruby Rose, who identifies as gender fluid and an out lesbian, plays Kate Kane (Batwoman), who is the first LGBTQ superhero to lead a network television series. Batwoman takes place three years after Batman mysteriously disappeared. The city of Gotham is now in despair and under the control and watch of military-grade Crows Private Security, which guards the city with firepower and militia. Kate returns home, deciding that if she wants to help her family and her city. In order to do so, she’ll have to become the one thing her father loathes: a dark knight vigilante. With the help of those close to her, Kate Kane continues the legacy of her missing cousin, Bruce Wayne. Armed with a passion for social justice and a flair for speaking her mind, Kate soars through the shadowed streets of Gotham as Batwoman.
Ruby Rose spoke to the Washington Post about her role as the first LGBTQ superhero on network TV: “That’s why this show is so important” – she’s a gay superhero whose sexuality is intended to be no big deal. People being straight doesn’t get that kind of attention. It’s the least interesting thing about [Batwoman].”
“I mean, I even look at her as I look at my own sexuality,” added Rose, who identifies as gay. “I would think my sexuality is the least interesting thing about me. We all identify as something. We wake up in the morning and we don’t think about it, it just is. Being straight and being gay, it’s the same thing. It’s just love. It’s who you love.”
Also nominated for Outstanding Drama Series this year is The L Word: Generation Q, which takes place over ten years after the original The L Word, which finished in 2009. Set in Silver Lake, Los Angeles, The L Word: Generation Q follows a group of friends, the majority of whom are lesbians. Generation Q is set in a new L.A. that has been shaped by the recession, gentrification, and policy failures.
An article by NPR looks at how The L Word: Generation Q is now needed more than ever in the age of the Trump administration, and talks to Jennifer Beals, one of the series original stars, who stated: “…We realized our strong suit is storytelling and perhaps this is the moment to rededicate to bringing The L Word back — to give visibility to the community that was about to get hit by this divisive administration.”
Booksmart, nominated for Outstanding Film – Wide Release, follows two best friends who, after spending their high school careers focused on academics, realize on the eve of their high school graduation that they want to experience high school like the rest of their party-going peers. Determined not to fall short of their schoolmates, the girls try to cram four years of fun into one night. Booksmart is filled with fresh humor, and celebrates queer inclusivity as one of the main characters of the film, Amy (Kaitlyn Dever), embarks on her journey of sexuality and engages in one of her first romantic experiences as a lesbian.
Nominated for Outstanding Film – Limited Release this year is The Heiresses, a tender drama of female awakening and queer romance between two women in politically conservative Paraguay. Descendants of Paraguayan aristocracy, the women have enjoyed a silver spoon lifestyle together for thirty years. When the couple is abruptly hit by financial hardship, they scramble to find work and auction off their respective heirlooms—silver spoons included—to stay afloat.
Chiquita, one of the main characters of this film, is imprisoned for her fraudulent side hustle. Chela, her partner, begins working as a taxi driver, gradually building new relationships and autonomy for the first time in her life. Each caged, one by a gutted lovenest, the other by razor wire, an irremediable distance grows between the two women.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, also nominated for Outstanding Film – Limited Release, is set in 18th-century France, and reveals that a glance, or a stare is everything. The artist Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned to paint the noblewoman Héloïse (Adèle Haenel) so that the man Héloïse’s mother has arranged for her to marry can approve or disapprove of her before the wedding.
Héloïse, who is opposed to the impending nuptials, has refused to sit for portraits before, and at first Marianne must do her job surreptitiously, studying her subject carefully during outings under the guise of having been hired as her companion. In the looks cast from Marriane toward Héloïse and the curious glances that Héloïse returns to her, the exchanges reveal a mutual attraction and cement a powerful bond between the two women over time.
One Day at a Time, nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series, features the daily life of the Alvarezes, a Cuban-American family. One Day at a Time give us a glimpse into a type of family that is rarely showcased on television, and part of that story includes queer representation through poignant storylines involving memorable characters.
One Day at a Time looks at a Latinx family led by an Army veteran single mother raising her teenage children (an out lesbian activist and a politically aloof boy) in the same household. One Day at a Time grapples with acceptance, mental health, faith, gentrification, alcoholism, and bigotry.
After winning the award for Outstanding Comedy Series at the 30th Annual GLAAD Media Awards, Vida is nominated again for Outstanding Comedy Series. The series focuses on two Mexican-American sisters from the Eastside of Los Angeles who couldn’t be more different or distanced from each other. Circumstances force them to return to their old neighborhood, where they are confronted by the past and shocking truth about their mother’s identity.
The Advocate describes Vida as “a universal story of found family that’s imperative to LGBTQ people who continually seek out others like themselves. In the show, Vida exiled Emma for being queer only to enter into a relationship with a woman later in life herself.” Ser Anzoategui is a nonbinary actor who plays the old-school lesbian. In contrast to Emma’s character, “Eddy” exists on the spectrum of gender identities that is not exclusively masculine or feminine, an identity that is outside the gender binary. Vida is a series that intertwines queer identity, religion and culture all in one.
In the Sports Illustrated cover story “2019 Sportsperson of the Year: Megan Rapinoe”, which is nominated for Outstanding Magazine Article, Jenny Vrentas looks at the role and impact of Megan Rapinoe, an out lesbian and co-captain of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team who won the Women’s World Cup in 2019. Vrentas explores how Rapinoe has continuously taken charge to authentically and fearlessly exist in a world as herself despite what anyone has to think or say about her.
Megan Rapinoe, as highlighted in the article, is known to call herself “walking protest”, which is drawn from her social activism on issues such as equal pay for women. Overall, Rapinoe continues to challenge the perceptions of women, female athletes, queer women, and herself.
The 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards feature several other series, films, and projects that highlight lesbian representation, including Killing Eve, Tales of the City, and many many more. For a full list of nominees for the 31st Annual GLAAD Media Awards, click here. A tip sheet with a breakdown of nominations by media and trends among the nominees is also available here.