The 5 TV shows totally responsible for my queer awakening

I have had many conversations in my queer circle about the impact of media on our sexuality. Before I pursued relationships with women, I found my window via TV marathons, bowls of cereal, and Emily the Strange pajamas. Sure, we would have all turned out the same either way. But there’s something to be said for the first time I saw a girl kiss another girl onscreen, or the first relationship that you obsessively wrote fan fiction over. Media is a fictional representation of the world around us and when you aren’t sure where you fit into it all, watching media from the safe space of your home can be a great start to figuring it out.

South of Nowhere

You can’t watch SON many places, but don’t let the hunt deter you. I was 15 when this show premiered, and it made a huge impact on me. A suburban Midwest family moves to Los Angeles and the three teenage children explore the ups and downs of their new school. South of Nowhere had a queer storyline at the forefront that was a committed relationship rather than a fling. This show’s portrayal of a teenage lesbian relationship is so honest. Spencer and Ashley were a positive step toward dismantling the sexuality phase trope. They even end up having a child together in a short post-finale web series.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Buffy is infamous in the LGBTQ+ community for a reason. When I finally decided to watch it, I was bedridden with mono for a month. It was hard to get started, but by the 3rd season, I got completely submerged in the Buffyverse. The great thing about Buffy is that while it had queer story arches, that really wasn’t what sucked me in. The entire series is a metaphor for coming out and coming to terms with who you are. Joss Whedon just replaces the monsters of growing up with real ones.

The L Word

Cliché, I know. But The L Word had the kind of sexual representation that was important for me to see at a young age — they showed actual lesbian sex. They didn’t just show hand holding, a quick cut, and implied sex. It sounds shallow, but as soon as high school hit, all of my friends were talking about sex. Knowing that I had those thoughts but not in the way my friends did, I needed to see what was out there.

Degrassi: The Next Generation

Most people don’t realize how important Degrassi was for queer representation. The kiss between Marco and Dylan was one of the first gay kisses on television. The Paige and Alex storyline brought new depth to a lesser-treaded topic in teen television: the fact that sexuality isn’t necessarily a binary. Paige’s sexuality was fluid, like most people. Degrassi didn’t put her in a box, which groundbreaking in itself.

My So-Called Life

My So-Called Life is my favorite show of all time. There was one glorious season and I rewatch it multiple times a year. It’s not only a perfect teen TV show, it’s also a perfect identity discovery show. I still relate so much to all of the characters. Everyone is so well written and fully fleshed out. Ricki Vasquez came to terms with his sexuality in such a realistic way. Throughout the one season, he so clearly struggles with feeling out of place. When you aren’t straight and straight is the norm, it can feel like you don’t belong anywhere. Like your friends, as well meaning as they can be, just highlight your own otherness.

Kat Hamilton is a California-grown singer, songwriter and wanderer. Her writing has been published in Thought Catalog, Bust Magazine, Infectious Magazine and She is the front woman for Brooklyn’s pop-punk outfit, Manic Pixi, and is releasing her own solo E.P “The Grey Area” later this year. Kat identifies as “Pumpkin Spice Lesbian”. She is a dog person and still isn’t over Jordan Catalano. Find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

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