Black History Month: Black queer characters and their stories (Part 1)

Entertainment, performative, or educational, Black History Month content ranges from genuine allies taking notice of their privilege all the way to corporations that don’t care about Black folks outside of February. 

It boils down to what you’re hoping to consume and hopefully learn throughout the month. 

If you’re ally, that should mean understanding Black history that expands beyond slavery and the Civil Rights Movement. 

For folks such as myself, every month is Black History Month because of our everyday experience. 

This list of Black queer characters from a range of film and television genres focuses on their individual experiences, all of which go beyond the typical Black trauma that Hollywood likes. 

(Spoilers ahead.)

Vince Fuller (Cruel Summer – teen drama/thriller) 

Dramas focused on teens need to bring something new to the table. 

Cruel Summer blends genre by being a drama and a thriller, making for a better show, especially with topics like intimate partner violence, being queer in a relatively conservative town, and grooming.

The show has several queer characters, including Vince (Allius Barnes), a Black queer teenager. 

His being nerdy, loyal, and not a stereotype is very refreshing. 

Rather than being soaked in toxic masculinity, he’s soft and caring with his loved ones, especially his love interest, Ben Hallowell (Nathaniel Ashton). 

His struggle isn’t the fact that he’s gay; he struggles with his personal relationships and being closeted as Black gay boy. 

Queer stories about more than just shame should be common by now. 

Doc aka Sarah Carol (Van Helsing – horror)

Ironically, doctors don’t have a good track record in surviving post-apocalyptic worlds. 

Thankfully, Van Helsing doesn’t make Doc (Rukiya Bernard) one of those fictional statistics. 

The details of her backstory are part of what make her character interesting – being a virgin as a grown woman, becoming confident in her queerness, and developing a romantic connection for the first time with fellow apocalypse survivor Jolene (Caroline Cave). 

In season 3, she pushes Jolene away slightly, which any other show would have made about shame over being queer rather than her fear of intimacy. 

For a horror show about a vampire apocalypse, magic, and other supernatural elements to handle a Black queer woman coming into herself with such sensitivity is pretty incredible. 

Image: YouTube | ONE Media.

Rue Bennett (Euphoria ­– drama)

No show is like Euphoria right now – it makes Skins seem so tame in comparison. 

Shows with characters who are addicts don’t always approach the topic properly. 

Drugs are normally romanticised, but there’s nothing glamorous about addiction for Rue (Zendaya). 

She makes it clear she has no intention of staying clean, gaslights her loved ones, and lies about her recovery. 

A Black queer character as an addict is something a lot of folks in the community can relate to, with addiction extremely prevalent for varying reasons among queer people. 

To display Black people as addicts deserving the same type of support and care as their non-Black counterparts is crucial.

Kat Edison (The Bold Type – drama) 

The Bold Type was not without its problems (behind the scenes and otherwise), but its representation of bisexuality wasn’t horribly problematic like other shows.

Kat Edison (Aisha Dee) still means a lot to people in the community, and her being a Black bisexual woman isn’t to be taken lightly. 

She doesn’t immediately realise she is queer, which is familiar for many people.

It depicts how that journey varies for every person and is sometimes messy. 

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