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Thank You, HBO, for Televising Lesbian Characters

Yara Greyjoy and Catherine Meyer

The network's inclusion of lesbian roles on Game of Thrones and Veep this season is a step forward for LGBT representation.


This season's Game of Thrones electrified viewers and critics with its fast-paced plotlines, ever-mounting death tolls, and revelations that unearthed surprising twists and histories of several key characters.

Yet one of the most quietly revolutionary moments came in a scene when one of its more minor figures, Yara Greyjoy (Gemma Whelan), joined her crew of male sailors to revel in port. She -- as well as they -- only had eyes for women.

"Since it's my last night ashore for a long while, I'm gonna go fuck the tits off this one," observed Greyjoy, a born leader who is vying to become the new queen of the seafaring province known as the Iron Islands.

In another scene, Greyjoy meets with another aspirational queen, Daenerys Targaryan. Their encounter is flirtatious, suggesting that Targaryan may fall somewhere on the LGBT spectrum as well.

"I imagine your offer is free of any marriage demands?" Targaryen remarked when Greyjoy proposed an alliance. Greyjoy responded, "I never demand, but I'm up for anything really," before the pair clasped hands.

Greyjoy's character is notable, because even with the recent gains in LGBT representation on television, gender disparities exist. In a recent report, GLAAD, which tracks LGBT media representation, noted gay men, at 47 percent, make up the bulk of regular and recurring LGBT characters on TV. Lesbians represent only 33 percent of these characters. A tally on LGBT representation also confirms that there are 68 gay male characters on TV right now versus 40 lesbian characters.

Game of Thrones alone features many women who push against the rules of patriarchy and gender, including Brienne of Tarth, a broad-shouldered female knight who can best many male soldiers in battle. But it is not the only show on the premium cable network to feature queer women this year.

Veep, a political comedy that stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus as President Selina Meyer, surprised viewers when Catherine, the first daughter, came out to her mother and her administration. She revealed she was dating her mother's Secret Service agent, Marjorie (Clea DuVall). Afterward, their courtship became a key plotline during the season's final episodes.

"We figured you'd guessed already -- I know it's so obvious," Catherine, played by Sarah Sutherland, told her mother, a joke because her mother tended to ignore her in favor of advancing her own political career.

The coming-out transformed Catherine. Formerly overlooked and the butt of jokes, she found confidence and even the cause of animal rights to champion. The couple's relationship also brought up questions relevant to the real world, like how LGBT persons in the political spotlight should discuss their sexuality and how their identity can be politicized.

In the big picture, Game of Thrones and Veep showed viewers this season how women can love other women and flourish. Because of that, many LGBT people will stay tuned for more.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.