10 Great Media Moments for Queer Women in 2016

In a year when being a queer woman has become increasingly nerve-wracking, television and movies came through to give us realistic, moving, important representations. In an attempt to eek some good memories out of this year, we pulled together our list of 10 top notch moments for queer women in media this year.

1. “We should kiss the girls we want to kiss.”

When I was 19, I read the Batwoman New 52 comics and fell in love with detective Maggie Sawyer. My favorite law-abiding lady appeared this season in Supergirl, helping to bring us one of the most relatable gay girl stories I’ve ever seen on television. DEO agent and sister of Supergirl Alex Danvers has been a centerpoint to Kara’s story since the start of the show. And, since then, we’ve seen Alex go toe-to-toe with some of the most dangerous and obnoxious villains in the galaxy. We don’t see Alex in many romantic situations in season 1 of the show, but upon meeting Maggie at a crime scene, Alex adorably falls apart. Over a short half-season arc, we see Alex’s full coming out story, from the moment she realizes and admits that she has feelings for Maggie to coming out to her sister and mother to embracing her whole self, the storyline is beautiful and realistic in a way that we rarely, if ever, get to see. The relationship finally comes together in the mid season finale thanks to the show’s brilliant queer co-creator, Allison Adler.

2. “San Junipero” built a queer-friendly dreamland.

In a year when queer women are dying on television at an alarming rate, UK sci-fi special Black Mirror gave us hope for all of our favorite characters who were unceremoniously written off. Season 3 of the show graced us with their “San Junipero”” episode, which depicts a utopian reality in which our consciousnesses are uploaded to a cloud after we die. The dreamland is a place where the constraints of real life fall away, like physical ailments and terrible men. In a world where bisexuality is recognized and Pac Man is still a game people play, Kelly and Yorkie meet in an 80s club and show us that love has no borders, including death. Here’s to leaving queer women’s decisions to them never being able to listen to “Heaven is a Place on Earth” again.

3. Ghostbusters had a queer engineer.

When I walked into the theater to see Ghostbusters on a muggy New York summer afternoon, I had no idea I was walking in to a movie that would deeply affect me. But when Jillian Holtzmann, engineer extraordinaire with a Ph.D. in seductive winks, stepped onto the screen, I was absolutely taken. Kate McKinnon plays this beautifully eccentric character in what she describes as “the closest to me I’ve ever played.” While the character isn’t explicitly queer — no characters in the theatrical version of the movie are assigned sexualities or are in relationships — Kate’s characterization of Holtzmann flags her sexuality in a way that spoke to queer women across the world. The movie features 4 women with no romances, no sexy outfits and 3 doctorates kicking science ass with Holtzmann at the machinery helm.

4. Sense8 gave us a sexnic.

We first meet beautiful queer unicorns Nomi and Amanita in season 1 of the show with one of the most fulfilling women-on-women sex scenes I’ve seen in my whole life (thank you, Netflix). Nomi Marks, a transwoman living in San Francisco, is a coding supergenius and one of the 8 members of the Sense8 main cluster. Amanita is her prideful girlfriend who stop at nothing to keep Nomi safe. Their love is the realistic queer love that keeps me going, and it only gets better in the recently released Christmas special.

5. Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher are on-screen and IRL comedy wives.

My partner introduced me to lesbian comedian Cameron Esposito earlier this year and I, like most other women with an affinity for politically-charged comedy, fell madly in love. When we discovered that Cameron and her wife, fellow comedian Rhea Butcher, had written and produced their own show, we immediately binge watched the full series. The show is based on Rhea and Cameron’s real lives as comedians in Los Angeles and features relatable #queerprobs like being mistaken for siblings, sharing so many clothes you forget what’s yours and fangirling together over the same women (their Tegan and Sara holiday special is a true gem).

6. Hayley Kiyoko gave us queer girl soundtracks.

In a year when queer women needed an anthem to hang on to, Hayley Kiyoko continued to win our hearts with “Gravel to Tempo.” Following the release of her iconic “Girls Like Girls” video in 2015, it only took Hayley 3 minutes and 30 seconds to get me to ship her with Headphones Girl. Hayley has spoken previously about the importance of her music to tell her own story about loving women. When she’s not writing songs to help queer girls understand their worth, she’s busy staring as my childhood girl crush Velma Dinkley and appearing in women-fronted movies, including Jem and the Holograms.

7. Sarah McBride shook the political stage.

From the start of this wretched political time, many of us had eyes on LGBTQIA rights. From bathroom bills to marriage and more, queer people have been a central focus of our political landscape in recent years. That’s why Human Rights Campaign’s national press secretary Sarah McBride made waves when she became the first out transgender American to speak at a major party convention. Her televised speech paid tribute to her own experiences and the continued need to humanize trans experience.

8. Orphan Black brought back crazy science.

Since its inception in 2013, Orphan Black has won the hearts of women and women-loving-women everywhere. Lead actress Tatiana Maslany portrays a versatile of cast of twelve clones with unique personalities, ticks and identities. Among the most celebrated is everyone’s favorite lesbian clone, Cosima Niehaus. In past seasons, we’ve seen Cosima struggle with a severe, unknown illness and go back and forth with her French lady-love, Delphine Cormier. At the end of season 3, we see Delphine get shot. She was assumed dead until the final episode of season 4, where we see a beautiful reunion between Delphine and Cosima. And, of course, they just had to get naked. For warmth. Duh.

9. SyFy gave us a demon-fighting, bulletproof lesbian.

Upon the last season of Lost Girl, I was feeling very sad to lose my supernatural queers. Lo and behold, Wynonna Earp appeared into my life and gave me the queer zombie fighters I always wanted. In the words of my partner, this show is like Supernatural, but with women and better. Cinammon roll of my life Waverly Earp meets badass lady cop Nicole Haught (okay, you named your lesbian “Officer Haught” how could I not love this show?) and is graciously swept away from her douchebag country boyfriend. Through intense eye sex,cinematically beautiful makeouts and revenant hunting, the show builds a romantic relationship between the two women that feels real and intense and amazing. This show also notably flipped the ‘Bury Your Gays’ narrative on its head and gave us a bulletproof-vest-wearing gay.

10. Queer women won some very cool awards.

In one of the more heart jerking queer moments of my year, President Obama awarded Ellen DeGeneres the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. Ellen became the second living out lesbian to win, following in the footsteps of Billie Jean King in 2009. Sally Ride’s partner accepted the award posthumously on her behalf in 2013. Queer ladies had an amazing year at the Emmys, with awards going to Kate McKinnon, featuring me me sobbing on my parents’ living room floor; Jill Soloway, whose commandment to “topple the patriarchy” I want tattooed all over my body; Sarah Paulson, whose relationship with girlfriend Holland Taylor is goals on every level, especially on Twitter; and Nina Jacobson, who graciously thanked her wife in her speech. Although Carol was released in 2015, it fell into the 2016 Oscars pool and was nominated for 7 awards, including Best Actress for Cate Blanchett and Best Supporting Actress for Rooney Mara.

Honorable mentions:

This is the section where I tell you that I work full time and am very busy crying over Kate McKinnon on my Tumblr, so I sometimes don’t get to consume all of the media I would like to. With that said, the queer lady universe is kind of like The Force: when there’s a queer woman existing somewhere else, we all know about it (h/t to dvnvers on Tumblr for this perfect comparison).

  • Multi-player shooter game Overwatch gave Tracer a girlfriend.
  • America Chavez aka Ms. America is the gay Latina superhero we’ve been waiting for and will headline her own series beginning in March 2017.
  • Sara Lance was seduced by the Queen of France and continued to be a shining gem for bi representation in the DC television universe.
  • Steven Universe got in-depth about gender.

Here’s to 2017 queer media: May your faves always stay alive and thriving.


Lanni (like Annie with an L) is a word nerd, dog lover and pop culture enthusiast living in the best city for those things—New York. During the day, you can find her reading comics on the train, writing snappy web copy and seeking out the nearest dog to pet. In the evenings, you’ll likely find her drinking cider while watching every movie and TV show with a queer character (yes, including all 6 seasons of The L Word).

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