15 Characters You Didn’t Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture

Pop culture is like a brilliant, eccentric painting that would be super dull without its bold strokes of color. And those colors, my dear reader, are often splashed onto the canvas by characters who proudly represent the LGBTQ+ community.

Let’s stroll down this rainbow-colored memory lane and discover the icons you might not have realized were shouting their LGBTQ+ pride from the rooftops.

Ariel

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
© Disney Enterprises Inc. – All Rights Reserved

Disney princesses have long been held up as symbols of feminine beauty and heteronormativity. But when it comes to Ariel, the rebellious redhead from “The Little Mermaid,” some fans see a queer narrative hidden within her story. From her love for adventure and exploration to her desire to break free from societal expectations, Ariel resonates with many LGBTQ+ individuals who have charted their paths.

Captain America

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
© 2013 – Marvel. All Rights Reserved.

In “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Steve Rogers only has eyes for Peggy Carter. However, some astute viewers noticed subtle hints of a deeper connection between Steve and his brainwashed ex-war buddy, Bucky Barnes, in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” (2014).

This sparked the #GiveCaptainAmericaABoyfriend campaign on Twitter, igniting a passionate fanbase who embraced the concept of a bisexu@l Captain America. Since then, the idea of Steve’s potential romantic fluidity has captured the hearts of many.

Rita Repulsa

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
Photo by Saban Entertainment/Renaissance Atlantic Entertainment/Toei Company, Ltd./MMPR Productions, Inc.

As the main antagonist of “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” (1993-1996), Rita Repulsa was known for her outrageous outfits, cackling laughter, and formidable magical powers. But for LGBTQ+ audiences, she was also an early example of gender non-conformity in popular media.

From her androgynous appearance to her rejection of traditional feminine roles, Rita’s character subverted norms. It provided a sense of representation for those who didn’t fit into societal expectations.

Li Shang

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
Photo by Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Feature Animation

The captain of the Imperial Army in Disney’s “Mulan” (1998) has become a beloved figure in the LGBTQ+ community due to his charm, bravery, and subtle hints of bisexu@l!ty. From his close relationship with Mulan’s male alter ego, Ping, to his famous “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” Li Shang has earned his spot in the pantheon of queer Disney characters.

Storm

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
© 2016 – Twentieth Century Fox

While many of the X-Men characters have been celebrated as LGBTQ+ icons, Storm’s impact often goes overlooked. As one of the first Black female superheroes to achieve mainstream recognition, her character has also been embraced by queer audiences for her powerful presence and fluid sexu@l!ty.

Whether she’s commanding the elements or navigating complex relationships with other mutants, Storm’s strength and resilience inspire many.

Thor

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
© 2017 – Disney/Marvel

Thor, the God of Thunder, the first son of Odin and a founding Avenger. Despite the absence of LGBTQ+ characters in Marvel Studios movies for over a decade, fans in the community have continued to search for relatable heroes. And for lesbians, Thor has emerged as an unexpected champion.

Harperrusset tweeted, “Thor is an honorary lesbian icon, but none of us d***lings can explain why; all we know is that he is the One Safe Man that all lesbians dance around like maenads, and that’s just the way it is.”

Batman

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
© 1992 Warner Bros. Animation

The Caped Crusader may not be the first character that comes to mind when thinking of LGBTQ+ icons, but there’s a case to be made for Batman’s representation. His alter ego, Bruce Wayne, has been interpreted as a closeted gay man by some fans.

At the same time, his ambiguous relationship with Robin has sparked speculation about their true feelings for each other. Whether intentional or not, Batman’s character has provided a sense of representation and relatability for LGBTQ+ individuals.

Shego

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
Photo by Walt Disney Television Animation

As the sassy, green-skinned villain in “Kim Possible” (2002-2007), Shego has gained a devoted following within the LGBTQ+ community. With her calm demeanor, sharp wit, and signature battle cry of “I think I’m in love,” she has been embraced as a queer icon for her provocative attitude and unapologetic queerness.

He-Man

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
Photo by Filmation Associates/Mattel

While the 1980s cartoon “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe” may have been marketed towards young boys, its vivid characters and campy aesthetic have earned it a special place in the hearts of many LGBTQ+ individuals. From He-Man’s skimpy outfit to his constant battles with his arch-nemesis Skeletor, there are plenty of queer interpretations to be found in this beloved series.

Prince Vultan

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
Photo by De Laurentiis Entertainment Group/Starling Productions/Famous Films

In the 1980 cult classic “Flash Gordon,” Brian Blessed’s over-the-top portrayal of the leader of the Hawkmen has earned him a dedicated fanbase within the LGBTQ+ community. With his lavish costumes and larger-than-life personality, Prince Vultan exudes unapologetic queerness, making him an unlikely but beloved icon for many.

Sheldon Cooper

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
Photo by CBS Entertainment

As the socially awkward genius in “The Big Bang Theory,” Sheldon Cooper may seem an unlikely LGBTQ+ icon. However, his character has resonated with many queer individuals who relate to his struggles with fitting in and understanding social cues. His close relationship with fellow scientist Amy Farrah Fowler has also sparked discussions about his potential asexu@l!ty.

Lara Croft

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
Wallpapers Idol via Flickr

As one of the most iconic video game characters, Lara Croft has become a symbol of female empowerment and breaking gender stereotypes. But for LGBTQ+ audiences, her character also represents a sense of gender fluidity. With her androgynous appearance and ability to kick b!tt regardless of her gender or sexu@l orientation, Lara Croft has earned a place in the LGBTQ+ pop culture canon.

Xena

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
Photo by Renaissance Pictures/Universal Television

The titular character of “Xena: Warrior Princess” (1995-2001) has become an enduring symbol of female strength and power. But for LGBTQ+ audiences, Xena represents something more.

This complex and powerful queer warrior challenged traditional gender roles and forged her path. Her relationship with fellow warrior Gabrielle also provided one of the first famous examples of a same-s!x love story on television.

The Babadook

15 Characters You Didn't Realize Were Icons Of LGBTQ+ Pop Culture
IowaPipe via Wikimedia Commons

While not technically a character in its own right, the Babadook has become an unexpected icon for the LGBTQ+ community. In 2017, a meme featuring the monster from the Australian horror film “The Babadook” (2014) as a gay symbol went viral, with many embracing it as a way to reclaim their fears and celebrate their queerness. The Babadook’s influence has since extended to Pride parades and merchandise, cementing its place in LGBTQ+ pop culture.

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Provided by frenz

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Chase Elliott Clark via Wikimedia Commons

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Andaman via Wikimedia Commons

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