The fight for better LGBTQ representation on television is a long, slow process, but in 2018, it seems like things are finally starting to improve. After writers on the CW series The 100 killed off a major lesbian character in 2016, taking scene cues directly from a 2000 episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, fans took their ire and created a nonprofit dedicated to seeking better LGBTQ representation in media. LGBT Fans Deserve Better aims to dismantle negative LGBTQ tropes in pop culture and fights for better, more positive representation across the board.
Unfortunately, lots of TV shows that introduce LGBTQ characters end up killing them off in a harmful trope called “Bury Your Gays.” LGBTQ characters in romantic relationships seem to be particularly targeted for this plot, which suggests that we can’t be happy in love because our stories always end in tragedy. However, there are a handful of not-straight characters who had more than just fleeting moments of happiness on their various TV series, and that’s worth celebrating. Heck, even the history of same-sex kisses on TV is worth celebrating, so we’re doing exactly that.
We’ve rounded up some of the best same-sex kisses in television history, from the most groundbreaking to the most romantic.
C.J. and Abby on L.A. Law
L.A. Law was known for pushing boundaries when it aired in the early ’90s, but when C.J. (Amanda Donohoe) and Abby (Michele Greene) kissed in season five, it was a groundbreaking, historical moment. Theirs was the first lesbian kiss on network television; to make that even better, they kiss twice, though each one is little more than a peck.
Rhonda and Suzanna on Relativity
When the short-lived 1997 drama Relativity gave its lesbian character Rhonda (Lisa Edelstein) a kiss scene, it was deeply affecting, especially for the episode’s writer, Jan Oxenberg. The kiss was groundbreaking because it was the first lesbian kiss on primetime television, and it was more than just a peck. Oxenberg, who is a lesbian, told the Los Angeles Times that watching the kiss brought her to tears.
Jack and Will on Will & Grace
Furious that a same-sex kiss was apparently cut from a network television show, Jack (Sean Hayes) takes Will (Eric McCormack) to the Good Morning America set and tells Al Roker his feelings on the matter. “How long will I have to wait to see two gay men kiss on network television?” he demands, to which Will responds, “Not as long as you think.” They kiss, live on GMA, and it’s a moment that none of them can believe. At the time, this was the longest same-sex kiss ever to air on network television. It lasts only seconds.
Ally and Ling on Ally McBeal
There were several same-sex kisses on Ally McBeal, though most of them were intended to make creepy men stop hitting on Ally (Calista Flockhart). When she and Ling (Lucy Liu) kissed after they had dinner together, it was romantic, sexy and one of the longest-lasting same-sex kisses on TV up until that point. The episode aired in 1999.
Jack and Doug on Dawson’s Creek
Dawson’s Creek followed a pretty classic gay storyline with Jack (Kerr Smith), whose coming-out process was arduous and heartbreaking but ultimately very satisfying by the end of the series. His happy ending with Doug (Dylan Neal) was one of the best things the series ever did.
Willow and Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Truth be told, every time Willow (Alyson Hannigan) and Tara (Amber Benson) kissed on-screen, it was a huge win for fans. When they reunited in season six after a series of terrible decisions on Willow’s part, it was particularly satisfying. “Can we just skip it? Can you just be kissing me now?” is a line that sticks out across all seven seasons of Buffy canon because it’s romantic and hopeful and so indicative of these two characters and their relationship. In retrospect, it’s also heartbreaking, because the BtVS writers killed Tara off almost immediately after this moment.
Paris and Rory on Gilmore Girls
When Paris (Liza Weil) decides she wants to do spring break the way her high school friends do it, she kisses Rory (Alexis Bledel) in an attempt to do something crazy and possibly get free drinks. The kiss is played for laughs and it’s incredibly brief, but it sparked a lot of feedback from Gilmore Girls fans who, to this day, wonder what could have been.
Lena and Bianca on All My Children
The first same-sex kiss on daytime television didn’t happen until 2003, when All My Children‘s Lena (Olga Sosnovska) and Bianca (Eden Riegel) locked lips in a passionate, honest farewell scene.
Kalinda and Lana on The Good Wife
The Good Wife‘s Kalinda (Parminder Nagra) is a bisexual femme fatale who has a number of super-steamy moments with FBI agent Lana (Jill Flint) while she’s trying to glean information for a case. Their semi-slow-burn sexual tension leads to a kiss that had viewers on the edge of their seats.
Luke and Noah on As the World Turns
When Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann) kissed in 2007 on As the World Turns, fans sent Hershey’s kisses to the studio to ask for a second kiss until one finally aired, over a year later. The American Family Association called for a boycott of one of the show’s sponsors, Procter & Gamble, which stood behind the show and the relationship because it “values diversity,” the company said in a statement.
Will and Neil on Days of Our Lives
Days of Our Lives didn’t air a same-sex kiss until 2012, putting it nine years behind All My Children and five years behind As the World Turns in the inclusion department for daytime soaps. However, when Will (Chandler Massey) and Neil (Jesse Kristofferson) finally kissed, it was a sweet, earnest moment.
Blaine and Kurt on Glee
When Chris Colfer auditioned for Ryan Murphy’s Glee, the writers liked him so much that they created a character just for him: Kurt. In season two, when Kurt finally found a love interest in Blaine (Darren Criss), their romance became one of the staple components of the show, which was heralded for its LGBTQ inclusion throughout its run. Their first kiss was also a far cry from early predecessors in both passion and length.
Santana and Brittany on Glee
Glee didn’t just have a long-term gay relationship; it also had a long-term relationship between a lesbian, Santana (Naya Rivera), and a bisexual woman, Brittany (Heather Morris). These two saw a lot of ups and downs throughout the series but ultimately had a happy ending. Their first on-screen kiss was a makeout scene, which was definitely bold, even for Glee.
Cam and Mitchell on Modern Family
After several seasons of not nearly enough PDA between longtime partners Cameron (Eric Stonestreet) and Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) on Modern Family, they tied the knot in an incredibly sweet ceremony on the season five finale. It’s so, so nice to see same-sex couples have happy storylines that last, and Cam and Mitchell are a paradigm example of that.
Nomi and Amanita on Sense8
Netflix’s Sense8 featured a primarily LGBTQ main cast, including a transgender main character played by a transgender actor. One of the show’s two long-term same-sex couples, Nomi (Jamie Clayton) and Amanita/Neets (Freema Agyeman), had quite a few incredible kisses and sex scenes. Their dual proposal in season two, however, is one of the most positive and joyous moments on the show.
Petra and J.R. on Jane the Virgin
Jane the Virgin embodies all the best things about daytime soaps and brings them to a prime-time audience. In season four, when Petra (Yael Grobglas) realizes she’s super into Jane Ramos (Rosario Dawson), the writers make them jump through a ton of hoops, in true soap-opera fashion. When they finally work it out, though, the payoff is so worth it.