Television has made incredible strides in LGBTQ+ representation in the past several years, and the immediate success of Netflix's Queer Eye reboot in 2018 was proof of just how much viewers crave fresh, underrepresented voices in media. Although there is always room for growth, viewers now have a pretty great selection of shows with LGBTQ+ characters that don’t just tell stories of conflict and despair. If you can't get enough of the Fab Five, then you might also like these uplifting LGBTQ+ shows like Queer Eye.
While several hit TV shows have featured LGBTQ+ characters and stories for decades, it’s been rare to find many depictions that aren’t based in trauma. There’s been a lot of discussion around mainstream media focusing solely on LGBTQ+ pain rather than joy in the past, but luckily, that appears to be changing. Queer Eye was a major signal of that shift. The 2018 Netflix reality series rebooted the iconic Bravo makeover show 15 years after it first aired and made it more popular than ever. The new Fab Five — Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, and Bobby Berk — became instant celebrities, beloved for the humor and kindness they bring to all the people they help.
Queer Eye is always a great choice if you’re looking for an uplifting LGBTQ+ series, but if you’ve already happy-cried through all the episodes, there are plenty of other joyful shows that are sure to give you life.
1. RuPaul's Drag Race
When it comes to LGBTQ+-focused reality television, RuPaul's Drag Race is the mother. While the long-running series is a competition at its core, which lends itself to much more bite than the more tame and relaxing Queer Eye, it is still absolutely packed with heartwarming moments between LGBTQ+ artists, as well as some of the most intersectional conversations about sexuality, gender, and race on television. The first six seasons of Drag Race are available to stream on Hulu.
If you’re looking for an LGBTQ+ teen romance that’s guaranteed to fill your heart with warmth and joy, Heartstopper is perfect for you. The story of two high schoolers falling for one another began as a Tumblr-beloved webcomic, but now Charlie and Nick’s adorable love story is its own live-action TV series. You can stream Heartstopper on Netflix.
3. Tales of the City
The original Tales of the City novels from the '70s and '80s painted the colorful picture of an LGBTQ+ commune in San Francisco, and Netflix's 2019 adaptation series brought that community to life. The interlocking lives of the inhabitants of Barbary Lane bring plenty of drama, but the love and support that the chosen family has for one another always ends things on an uplifting note. Tales of the City is available to stream on Netflix.
In order to get the mainstream recognition the LGBTQ+ community is beginning to receive on television, pioneers had to first create their own underground cultures. That is the focus of the FX series Pose, which shines a light on the ballroom culture of New York City in the '80s that remains a font of inspiration for LGBTQ+ artists to this day. Pose is available to stream on Netflix.
5. Schitt's Creek
At first, Schitt's Creek seemed as though it would solely be about the humor of a formerly wealthy family having to live in a podunk town after losing their fortune, but the series soon evolved into a show full of heart and LGBTQ+ representation. Series creator and actor Dan Levy’s character, David Rose, is pansexual without the series making it a big deal, and his ultimate love story is sure to make any viewer feel warm and fuzzy. Schitt’s Creek is available to stream on Netflix.
6. The Owl House
For cartoon lovers who appreciate high fantasy and LGBTQ+ stories, it’s time to check into The Owl House. The Disney animated series about a girl who finds herself in a magical new dimension has garnered heaps of praise for its LGBTQ+ representation, especially after the main character Luz confessed her romantic feelings for fellow witch, Amity. You can watch The Owl House on Disney+.
7. One Day at a Time
Netflix's sitcom One Day at a Time was one of the most feel-good shows on the streaming service, and a lot of that uplifting energy comes from the heartwarming story of Elena coming out to her family. Elena soon enters a relationship with a nonbinary person named Syd, and the series tackles a ton of gender and sexuality questions with patience and warmth. Although it looked like the show was gone for good after Netflix canceled it, Pop TV picked it up for one final season, which aired in 2020. One Day at a Time is available to stream on Netflix.
8. Please Like Me
Please Like Me is an Australian series centered on a young man who realizes he’s gay in the pilot. The show is created and written by comedian Josh Thomas, who stars as a fictionalized version of himself. Throughout the show, Josh acclimates himself to a whole new world of dating and interacting with others. While it delves into some dark topics, the series always finds its way back to a heartwarming place. The best part is, although the show was once hard for American audiences to watch, all four seasons are now available to stream on Hulu.
9. Everything's Gonna Be Okay
It may have a depressing premise, but Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is filled with feel-good energy. Another creation of Please Like Me’s Josh Thomas, the Freeform series centers on Nicholas, an Australian man who moved to the United States to raise his two half-sisters after their father’s death. Shortly after his move, Nicholas enters a relationship with Alex, and the two men help Nicholas’ autistic sister Matilda navigate her sexuality as she expresses romantic feelings for both men and women. Everything’s Gonna Be Okay is available to stream on Hulu.
10. The Bold Type
The Bold Type feels like a millennial version of Sex and the City, as three best friends band together to navigate dramatic relationships and high-pressure jobs in New York City. Early on in the series, one of these women, Kat, comes out as bisexual after discovering her attraction to a lesbian artist. Since Kat is one of the main characters, The Bold Type delivers LGBTQ+ storylines in every episode, and always shows her two best friends supporting her through her ups and downs. You can stream it on Hulu.
11. Steven Universe
Children’s cartoons have steered clear of obvious LGBTQ+ themes and characters for a long time, but Steven Universe changed all of that by putting LGBTQ+ romance front and center. While Steven is a young boy, the rest of the show’s heroes and villains are women with complex relationships with one another. One of the main characters, Pearl, pined for Steven’s mother, while another main character, Garnet, is actually the living embodiment of the love of two gems. Steven Universe has earned widespread praise and accolades for its LGBTQ+ representation, and it’s definitely not just for kids — it’s a joy to watch at any age. Steven Universe is available to stream on HBO Max.
12. Noah’s Arc
A seminal show in terms of representation, Noah’s Arc only ran for two seasons on Logo in 2005 and 2006, but it remains iconic within LGBTQ+ communities for being the first series to center on a group of Black, gay men. The series isn’t always uplifting, as Noah and his friends deal with hardships, but the friendship and love of the friend group is always at the heart of it. The show used to be hard to find online, but Logo recently uploaded all the episodes on YouTube for free, so you can watch whenever you want.
The dating world isn’t always easy for Ryan in Special, but he always manages to find the humor in everything. The two-season dramedy follows Ryan, a gay man with cerebral palsy, as he decides to take control of his life and put himself out there for love. The series is not without its darker moments, but it always finds its way back to a sweet, heartwarming sentiment. You can stream Special on Netflix.
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