By: Kayla Thompson, Communities of Color and Media Junior Associate, Amanda Hurwitz, Entertainment Research Junior Associate, and Adam Weinreb, Entertainment Research Junior Associate
Since 1992 in the United States, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month has been observed and celebrated during the month of May.
This May, GLAAD is dedicated to honoring the cultural contributions and influences LGBTQ+ AAPI community members have made, alongside highlighting films, TV shows, and other forms of media with significant LGBTQ+ AAPI representation.
During this month, and year round, it’s important to remember that people of Asian, Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Island heritage are not a monolithic community, but rather a group connected by their experiences and histories with distinct and extensive cultural backgrounds, traditions, and ethnicities. Celebrating these communities should be conducted with depth and nuance, and we should continue listening to community voices to learn how we can best support them.
With anti-LGBT legislation and anti-Asian bias and racism on the rise, it’s especially important to invest in narratives that celebrate and uplift those of Asian and Asian American descent.
Alongside our watchlist (link) spotlighting 10 films and television shows with excellent on-screen representation of LGBTQ+ and/or MVPFAFF+ Pacific Islanders and Native Hawaiians, we’ve compiled a list of 10 films and television shows committed to centering, including, and featuring representations of LGBTQ+ Asian and Asian American people and storylines:
Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022)
Premiering at South by Southwest in March 2022, Everything Everywhere All At Once tells the story of Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh), a Chinese immigrant and laundromat owner who finds herself launched into alternate universes. The film navigates Evelyn’s relationship with her queer daughter Joy Wang (Stephanie Hsu).
Heartbreak High (2022)
Heartbreak High follows the teenage angst, romances, and lives of the students and teachers at Hartley High. The show features a number of LGBTQ+ characters with diverse storylines, including the relationship between Quinni Gallagher Jones (Chloe Hayden) and Sasha So (Gemma Chua-Tran).
Fire Island (2022)
A modern, queer take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Fire Island, written by Joel Kim Booster, follows a group of best friends as they gather at Fire Island for their annual 4th of July festivities. Fire Island features an entirely queer cast and numerous LGBTQ+ Asian characters, with the film’s central romance being between two gay Asian men. The film stars out Asian actors Joel Kim Booster, Conrad Ricamora, Bowen Yang, and Margaret Cho, and was directed by Andrew Ahn.
Sort Of (2021)
HBO Max Original Sort Of centers the story of protagonist Sabi Mehboob, a non-binary first-generation Pakistani-Canadian navigating love and dating in Toronto. Sabi is portrayed by Bilal Baig, the star, executive producer, co-creator, and co-writer of Sort Of.
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin (2022)
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin portrays characters including couple Elodie and Shirley Honrada (Lea Salonga and Kim Berrios Lin) and their queer daughter Mouse Honrada (Malia Pyles).
Netflix India’s Class, based on the Spanish series Elite, is set at an elite high school in Delhi, and follows the relationships between three working-class students and their wealthy classmates. The show features queer characters Faruq (Chintan Rachchh) and Dhruv (Chayan Chopra), with potential LGBTQ storylines in season 2 incoming for characters Balli (Swaayal Singh) and Sharah (Moses Koul).
The Imperfects (2022)
Although it was canceled after just one season, The Imperfects offered unparalleled representation which will be sorely missed. The Imperfects followed three young people whose DNA was altered after an experimental gene therapy as they track down the scientist who uprooted their lives. The show featured queer characters Hannah Moore (Celina Martin) and Abbi Singh (Rhianna Jagpal), an asexual scientist.
Good Trouble (2019)
A spin-off of The Fosters, Good Trouble follows Callie and Mariana as they leave home and head to LA to chase dreams and careers. The show features lesbian Asian women Alice Kim (Sherry Cola) and Sumi Liu (Kara Wang). Sherry Cola, as a queer Asian woman herself, has spoken out about supporting and empowering LGBTQ+ Asian women and girls.
Never Have I Ever (2020)
Season 3 of Never Have I Ever includes a storyline surrounding Aneesa Qureshi (Megan Suri), a Muslim, Indian girl who was introduced as a new classmate in Season 2. Viewers follow Aneesa’s journey in Season 3 as she explores her sexuality, kissing and eventually entering into a brief relationship with her friend Fabiola Torres (Lee Rodriguez).
Kung Fu (2021)
The CW’s Kung Fu includes queer Asian men Ryan Shen (Jon Prasida) and Sebastian Cailao (JB Tadena), who is introduced at the beginning of Season 2 as Ryan’s potential love interest.