From All in the Family to Pose and Special, Celebrate TV’s LGBTQ History

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We’ve come a long way, babies. In the years since All in the Family introduced the first gay character in primetime TV, there’s now Pose, an acclaimed FX drama featuring the most transgender series regulars ever.

As we kick off Pride Month 2019, it’s time to look back at how far TV has come since the days of Soap and That Certain Summer. With more content platforms than ever, like streaming platforms Netflix and Hulu, representation on screen will only increase. Take Ryan O’Connell‘s Netflix series Special. The new acclaimed comedy, created by and starring O’Connell, is semi-autobiographical and follows a gay man with cerebral palsy. You wouldn’t see that on network TV in the 1970s and you’d be hard pressed to find it on a major network now, in 2019.

“When we first went out with Special, my agents said they were gonna go to network and I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? The gay CP version on ABC?! They’ll f–king buy it ‘cause it’s chic, and then they’ll be like, “What did we just buy”‘ And then they’ll kill it.’ Things that I get excited about exploring — the sexuality of a disabled person and their wants and needs — you can’t do that on a f–king network,” O’Connell told Vulture.

“I’m so happy and blessed because I feel like the stories of marginalized people get told on Verizon f–king go90 or Awesomeness TV. I was really nervous that Special was gonna air on an abandoned oil rig in Marina del Rey and you were gonna need a DNA sample to get access to it. I wanna reach as many people as possible because if this show had come out when I was a teenager, it would’ve saved my f–king life. When you don’t see yourself being reflected back at you, you’re implicitly told that you don’t matter. That your life does not matter, it’s not worth being told, it’s not worth being discussed. And that f–ks with you on such a deep level. By the way, you don’t have to have cerebral palsy to relate to my story. Any gay guy who doesn’t feel they fit the mold or that they’re fit enough — which, spoiler alert, is all gay men — can relate. I know it sounds corny, but I really hope this story helps people. This business is so f–ked up and arduous, it’s such hell, that I cannot imagine doing anything that’s not worthwhile or meaningful. That’s why I’m here. Not to sell a story about some girl with magical bangs to ABC,” O’Connell continued.

Below, relive LGBTQ TV history. Be sure to watch E! News at 7 p.m. for more Pride Month celebrations.

All In The Family, LGBT TV History


That Certain Summer, LGBT TV History

ABC via Getty Images

An American Family, LGBT TV History

ABC via Getty Images

Hot L Baltimore, LGBT TV History


Diana Canova, Billy Crystal, Soap, LGBT TV History

ABC via Getty Images

Robin Tyler, LGBT TV History


Thirtysomething, LGBT TV History


ROC, LGBT TV History


L.A. Law, LGBT TV History


One Life to Live, LGBT TV History

ABC via Getty Images

Sandra Bernhard, Roseanne, LGBT TV History

ABC via Getty Images

My So Called Life, LGBT TV History


The Real World, LGBT TV History


Friends, LGBT TV History


Ellen, LGBT TV History

ABC via Getty Images

Lisa Edelstein, Relativity, LGBT TV History


Will & Grace, LGBT TV History


Dawson's Creek, Kerr Smith, LGBT TV History


Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, LGBT TV History


The L Word, LGBT TV History


Alexandra Billings, LGBT TV History


As The World Turns, LGBT TV History


Rachel Maddow, LGBT TV History


Chris Colfer, Lea Michele, Amber Riley, Cory Monteith, Jenna Ushkowitz, Glee

Carin Baer/FOX

Tamara Braun, Eden Riegel, All My Children, LGBT TV History



Trae Patton/NBC

Good Luck Charlie, LGBT TV History

Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

Laverne Cox, Orange is the New Black, LGBT TV History


Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart


Transparent, LGBT TV History


How to Get Away with Murder, LGBT TV History

ABC/Craig Sjodin

Neil Patrick Harris, 2015 Academy Awards, Show

A.M.P.A.S./Michael Yada

Glee, Dot Jones

Adam Rose/FOX

Transparent, Golden Globes

Paul Drinkwater/NBC

Laverne Cox, SAG Awards

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Caitlyn Jenner, Bruce Jenner, Vanity Fair, Magazine, Iconic Celeb Photos

Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair

Andi Mack, Sofia Wylie, Joshua Rush, Peyton Elizabeth Lee, Asher Angel

Disney Channel

Star Trek: Discovery, Anthony Rapp




Instinct, Alan Cumming


American Idol, Ada Vox, Katy Perry


Nafessa Williams, Black Lightning


Supergirl, Nicole Maines

The CW

Grey's Anatomy




Arrow, Batwoman, The Flash, Supergirl

The CW

Are You the One?


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