Pride is a time to celebrate the birth of the LGBTQ movement and to come together to support our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. It’s also a time to honor trailblazers like Sylvia Rivera and Bamby Salcedo and recognize how far we’ve come and how much progress still needs to happen. When it comes to representation it’s evident there’s still a lot of work that needs to happen but we also want to celebrate the wins on the small screen with Latinx LGBTQ roles on TV. We’re definitely starting to see more progress in the past decade with recent characters like non-binary queer comedian Che Diaz (played by non-binary star Sara Ramírez) in the upcoming Sex and the City reboot.
Popular TV shows like Vida and One Day at a Time help in this mission by creating characters who deal with real life issues in the LGBTQ and Latinx communities. Stars like the late Naya Rivera truly made an impact on the lives on LGBTQ teens everywhere. So to celebrate Pride 2021, here are 10 Latinx actors who play LGBTQ Latinx characters on television and helped shift certain issues in a more positive direction.
Rafael de la Fuente on Empire
Michael Sanchez is character from the series Empire, played by Venezuelan actor Rafael de la Fuente. Sanchez was Jamal’s boyfriend in the show until the couple broke up. In the second season, they rekindle their romance but Jamal gets caught cheating and Sanchez ends the relationship for good. Empire was a massive hit so having a gay character was a major win for representation. He told Fox News, “I’m just really, really happy to be playing this role because I feel like through Jamal and Michael’s story we’re addressing several important issues like homophobia, and so I’m very happy.”
Kevin Alejandro on True Blood
Mexican-American actor Kevin Alejandro played Jesús Velázquez on the HBO original series, True Blood. He made his debut in the third season as a Mexican brujo and long time boyfriend of Lafayette Reynolds (played by Nelsan Ellis). Not only was he a gay Latinx character, but it was also a huge win because he practiced brujeria. He told DA MAN, “The fact that Jesus was a witch was fascinating to me. I was able to do quite a bit of research on witchcraft. I wanted to understand the differences between white and black magic. For the longest time, I wasn’t sure which direction they were taking with the role of Jesus, so I thought it best to understand the differences between both practices.”
Yara Martinez on Jane The Virgin
Jane the Virgin’s Dr. Luisa Alver, Rafael’s sister, is played by Puerto Rican actress Yara Martinez. While she’s a supporting cast member, her character is pivotal to the plot and its her affair with the maniacal Rose that’s at the core of some of the wild plot lines of the series. The show also featured a lesbian relationship between Petra Solano, Rafael’s ex-wife (Yael Grobglas) and Jane Ramos (Rosario Dawson) that developed over time and became of the most beloved couplings of the series.
Oscar Nuñez on The Office
Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nuñez) is an accountant at the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin in the show The Office. His sexuality comes into play when he has an affair with a state senator married to his co-worker Angela (Angela Kinsey) but for most of the show he’s one of the more level-headed characters though he’s known to be a know-it-all. When asked how the gay community responded to his role in the show, he told OCWeekly, “I don’t know about them responding as a whole, but the people I meet are like, ‘Hey, good job!’ You know, he’s not crazy acting and he’s very responsible. He’s the voice of reason.”
Sonia Braga on Sex and The City
Sonia Braga played artist Maria Diega Reyes who has an affair with sexually adventurous Samantha Jones on Sex and The City. Though Samantha made it clear she was into men, the relationship showed her getting more in touch with her femininity. Braga was only on the show for a short period of time but some fans thought she deserved more screen time. According to Screen Rant, they would have loved to see more of Braga, writing “her character was enticing to watch due to her lust for life and her need for passion…we wish her character got treated with a little more attention as well as respect.”
Stephanie Beatriz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Detective Rosa Diaz is played by Argentine-American actress Stephanie Beatriz on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Beatriz’s character identifies as bisexual and actually comes out on the show which shows her seeking acceptance from her parents. The story portrayed throughout the show was very similar to Beatriz’s personal journey on coming out to her parents. In an interview with Vulture, she said “it was a slow progression of coming out to friends, my sister, and then publicly, and having my parents react with the public coming out.” She went on to say that it wasn’t an easy road but her parents have accepted it now.
Karrie Martin and Julissa Calderon on Gentefied
Karrie Martin and Julissa Calderon star in the comedy-drama Gentefied, Calderon plays Yessika, Ana’s (played Karrie Martin) girlfriend who is involved in community work and is involved in the fight against gentrification. The show is mostly focused on their romance throughout the first season, showing both the good and bad as they both struggle with the changes in their neighborhood. Calderon told HipLatina in an IG Live conversation that she loves playing such a passionate and fiery character and her storyline is only getting bigger and better for season 2. This speaks volumes because the show is for and by Latinx and to add a queer relationship to the mix just took it to a whole other level.
Ser Anzoategui on VIDA
Ser Anzoategui played Edwina ‘Eddy’ Martinez on the drama series VIDA as a butch widow and co-owner of a bar. The show, from Chicana queer showrunner Tanya Saracho, only lasted three seasons but was praised for its representation of not only the Latinx community but the LGBTQ Latinx community as well. Eddy’s love for Vidalia aka Vida was one of the more tender romances on the series which also included Emma Hernandez (played by Mishel Prada) and Nico (played by Roberta Colindrez).
Isabella Gomez on One Day At A Time
Isabella Gomez played queer teen Elena Maria Alvarez on the Netflix series One Day At A Time. One of the most powerful scenes in the series is when Elena’s dad doesn’t show up for the father/daughter dance at her quinceañera after she comes out and her mom (Justina Machado) dances with her instead. When asked about her commitment to the show, Gomez told BriefTake, “the LGBTQ community barely has any representation, especially for young women. When they do have it, it’s usually more through the male gaze and more sexualized, and to have representation that isn’t that is also necessary.”
Naya Rivera on Glee
Naya Rivera played Santana Lopez on the hit musical Glee, which has been recognized as being one of the main gay TV characters to have made a major impact at a time when there was very little representation. The relationship between Santana and Brittany (played by Heather Morrison) continues to have a large following in the LGBTQ community years after the show ended in 2015. This show, and these characters in particular, allowed an entire generation of LGBTQ women to feel seen.