Sophie Suarez played by Rosanny Zayas
Played by Rosanny Zayas in The L Word: Generation Q, Sophie Suarez is a lesbian Afro-Latina TV producer known for her passion for storytelling and putting others before herself. Throughout the show, we’ve loved seeing her with her familia representing traditional Latinx families. Zayas, who is Dominican, told Autostraddle how significant it was to have an Afro-Latina queer character: “I did not expect for them to cast an Afro-Latina in a lead role. Sophie Suarez is the first Afro-Latina I’ve definitely ever seen in a queer role on television, certainly to the extent of being able to be a full character and I just became like a loyal fan from casting announcement.”
Maribel Suarez played by Jillian Mercado
Sophie Suarez’s sister on The L Word: Generation Q, Maribel Suarez is played by Jillian Mercado and is one of the first fully developed disabled characters in TV history. Just like Jillian in real life, Maribel has muscular dystrophy and is of Afro-Latina heritage. Maribel is an immigration attorney and often acts like the voice of reason for Sophie. We’ve loved seeing her relationship with transman Micah (Leo Sheng) unfold providing a whole other level of representation we haven’t seen before.
Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista played by MJ Rodriguez
Played by Michaela Jaé Rodriguez in Pose, Blanca Rodriguez-Evangelista is one of the most well-known transgender Afro-Latina characters on TV today. After coming out to her family as a teen, she was disowned by her mother and sought safety in New York City’s ballroom scene. Later, it was inspiring to see how she opened up the House of Evangelista all on her own, mentored new ballroom competitors as a “mother”, and formed deep familial bonds with her “children.” Throughout the series, she continued to flex her entrepreneurial muscles by opening a nail salon and working as a nursing AID after she was diagnosed with AIDS. Even though the show is over, we still remember as the character who helped Rodriguez become the openly trans actor to win an Emmy.
Angel Vasquez-Evangelista played by Indya Moore
Angel Vasquez-Evangelista, played by Indya Moore, is a trans Afro-Latina sex worker on Pose who experiences major highs and lows. After running away from home as a young child, she found community and acceptance in the ball scene, where she grew close with Blanca Rodriguez. She ends up running into some challenges along the way, especially when her snarkiness and love for drama end up getting her into trouble. But at the end of the day, it was relatable to see how much all she wanted was to be seen, loved, and accepted for exactly who she was.
Dani Núñez played by Arienne Mandi
Dani Nuñez (Arienne Mandi) is a lesbian Latina PR executive of Iranian and Chilean descent on The L Word: Generation Q. Dani is the only daughter of a wealthy father and wants to use her influence to make positive change through her work. We loved seeing her grow over the series, from someone who was smart and ambitious but emotionally unavailable, to someone who became more open to love. We love seeing a powerful queer Latina on screen even if sometimes her romantic life gets a little messy.
Callie Torres played by Sara Ramirez
Sara Ramirez (who is non-binary) is probably best known for their role as Callie Torres in Grey’s Anatomy. Originally created to be a love interest, Callie soon became a regular cast member with top billing and has received critical acclaim throughout her 10-year run on the show. She has been credited as one of the first bisexual Latinas on TV, forming relationships with a few women and having children, and is known for her competitive but spirited personality.
Emma Hernandez played by Mishel Prada
Emma Hernandez (Mishel Prada) was one of the lead characters on Vida and her story where she was sent away from home for liking girls, is true to what many queer folks experience. As an adult, she is inspiring to so many as a representation of what pansexuality can look like. Multiple times, she had taken the initiative to defend herself and her sexuality, an empowering yet difficult moment rarely seen on TV. Though Vida was canceled, Emma remains a powerful, positive representation of queerness and pansexual love.
Elena Alvarez played by Isabella Gomez
Elena Alvarez from One Day at a Time, played by Isabella Gomez, is a lesbian Cuban American teenager who has been one of the most groundbreaking queer characters for the Latinx community. Throughout her coming out journey we saw her dad struggle with accepting her sexuality and her own anxieties about coming out. This was a huge moment of representation for queer latinxs on TV that also provided hope though her endearing relationship with her mom played by Justina Machado. And what’s not to love about her relationship with Syd, a nonbinary lesbian who is equally nerdy? The show may be over but we know we’ll love her for many years to come.
Rosa Diaz played by Stephanie Beatriz
Rosa Diaz from Brooklyn 99 was the bisexual Latina representation we were all waiting for! Played by Stephanie Beatriz, who is bisexual in real life and was able to provide personal insights into her character, she is credited as one of the first characters to say the words “I’m bi” on TV. While she received pushback from her parents (who in true fashion, insisted that she’s always date men), we loved how she rose above the criticism and chose to continue to live her life her way, and especially how her work friends all surrounded her with unconditional love and support. She has multiple relationships throughout the show with both men and women, increasing the visibility of bisexual Latinas on TV.
Ana Morales played by Karrie Martin
Ana Morales (Karrie Martin) is a lesbian Mexican American teenager who won our hearts as a lead character in Gentefied as a budding artist who loves her family and her girlfriend Yessika, played by Julissa Calderon. We loved seeing a young Latina figuring out her career and her life as the community around her struggles with gentrification. Seeing her juggle her relationship with her work goals was retable and we love that regardless of how their relationship turned out they had love for each other.
Yessika Castillo played by Julissa Calderon
Yessika Castillo (Julissa Calderon) is a lesbian Afro-Dominicana from Gentefied with a passion for community and social justice. We admired her activism work in her neighborhood and how she brought people together all in an effort to fight gentrification in her neighborhood. While Ana was the artist happy to take on an opportunity, Yessika stayed devoted to her community and refused to let the gentrifiers win. Viewers loved her passion and dedication and many related to her fight to protect her neighborhood.
Fabiola Torres played by Lee Rodriguez
The queer Afro-Latina teen is one of Devi’s best friends on Never Have I Ever but we also see her story play out as she learns to embrace her sexuality. It was heartwarming to see her come out to her mother after struggling with worrying about how she’d react. But it was even more heartwarming how quickly her mom was to accept her and assure her that she loved her unconditionally. To see her happy and thriving after having such a difficult time coming out undoubtedly gave teenage viewers in a similar situation hope.
Santana Lopez played by Naya Rivera
We wouldn’t have the queer characters we have today without the trailblazer herself: Santana Lopez. Played by the late Naya Rivera on Glee, she was instrumental in the development of LGBTQIA+ representation in TV in the early 2000s. She served multiple roles throughout the show including co-captain of her school’s cheerleading team and a member of the Glee Club. It was relatable to see how much she struggled to accept her sexuality and how she was outed as being a lesbian against her consent. Yet she still managed to emerge victorious and into a character we all could cheer on to be her truest self and find love.
Danielle “Dani” played by Demi Lovato
In one of their little-known roles, Demi Lovato briefly portrayed Dani, a recurring character on the fifth season of Glee who has a relationship with Santana Lopez. Even though she definitely wasn’t around long enough, Dani was nonetheless an instantly lovable character as a waitress, musician, and singer. It was powerful to see her and Santana bonding over how they each came out as lesbians to their families, faced backlash, and rose above and thrived by making their own families through their friends. They ended up breaking up but it was still amazing to see two Latina lesbians in a beautiful and healthy relationship.
Che Diaz played by Sara Ramirez
Cheryl “Che” Diaz (Sara Ramirez) is a queer nonbinary podcaster and comedian who works with Carrie Bradshaw in the Sex and the City spin-off And Just Like That. Their character has certainly caused a lot of discussion online but it’s still amazing to see an openly nonbinary Latinx character on an Max show and what an impact they’ve had. For one, their mere existence is an invitation for the main white female leads to question their limited understanding of gender and sexuality. For another, they’re in one of the most interesting queer love affairs on TV today. They will be seen in the second season of the show when it premieres this June.