LGBTQIA+ stories in the media are on the rise, and rightfully so.
By: Amanda Rubio
If you did not already know, queer visibility in the media is through the roof, and it is here to stay; this is all thanks to the wholesome and lighthearted LGBTQIA+ stories that have been flooding our screens. TV shows like “Heartstopper” and “Young Royals,” as well as films like “Red, White & Royal Blue,” have made it all possible.
Based on the webcomic and bestselling graphic novel series by Alice Oseman, Netflix’s “Heartstopper” has unequivocally captured the hearts of viewers across the globe. The British coming-of-age romantic drama primarily follows Charlie Spring (Joe Locke), a recently-outed Year 10 student at Truham Grammar School for Boys, and Nick Nelson (Kit Connor), a Year 11 rugby player whom Charlie sits next to in his new form.
The series tells the story of Charlie and Nick’s blossoming relationship. While Charlie grapples with bullying, sexual assault and disordered eating, Nick comes to terms with his sexuality – “[He’s] bi, actually” – and deals with the struggles of having an absent father and homophobic older brother.
“Heartstopper” also explores the relationship between Tao Xu (William Gao), Charlie’s protective best friend, and Elle Argent (Yasmin Finney), Charlie and Tao’s friend who transferred to Higgs Grammar School for Girls after coming out as transgender. At the end of the first season of the series, viewers are left wanting more out of Tao and Elle’s friendship. Now, this is a spoiler-free zone, but I will say that the second season certainly did not disappoint.
And if that is not enough playful romance for you, then you are in luck. The series also follows the relationship between Tara Jones (Corinna Brown) and Darcy Olsson (Kizzy Edgell), Tara’s chaotic and spunky girlfriend.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention everyone’s favorite bookworm, Isaac Henderson (Tobie Donovan). Issac is the kindhearted and reserved friend who viewers watch slowly come to terms with his sexuality throughout the second season. While Isaac’s sexuality has not been officially confirmed, the second season explores Isaac's discovery of the terms “aromantic” and “asexual.”
If it was not already clear, “Heartstopper” undoubtedly has something for everyone, and that is certainly a reason for celebration.
"I know people have hurt you. And you feel like I'd be better off without you, but I need you to know that my life is way better because I met you." – Nick Nelson (to Charlie Spring)
The first season of “Heartstopper” was released on Netflix on April 22, 2022. The highly anticipated second season dropped on August 3, 2023, and has since been deemed “one of the most rewatched shows by members” by Netflix. On September 4, 2023, Netflix UK & Ireland announced that writing had begun for the third season, so it won’t be long until Nick, Charlie and the rest of the gang are back for more.
Red, White & Royal Blue
If you’re a fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope, this one’s for you.
Based on the New York Times bestselling novel by Casey McQuiston, “Red, White & Royal Blue” follows Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the son of the first female president of the United States (Uma Thurman), and Britain’s Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine).
When Alex and Prince Henry’s perpetual feud – and a very public incident involving cake – threaten United States and British relations, the two rivals are forced into a staged “truce” by their respective families. However, their hostile relationship suddenly turns into something much deeper, and the tension is real.
The romantic comedy film follows the development of Alex and Prince Henry’s relationship as they grapple with the pressures of being in the public eye and figure out how to love one another without harming their family’s reputations.
“Red, White & Royal Blue” was released on Prime Video on August 11, 2023, and it was only a matter of time before the TikTok edits began.
"We can figure out a way to love each other on our own terms." – Alex Claremont-Diaz (to Prince Henry)
Netflix’s “Young Royals” is a Swedish romantic drama series that follows Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (Edvin Ryding) as he adjusts to life at Hillerska, an elite Swedish boarding school, and struggles with the implications of his romance with Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg), a fellow student at Hillerska and an emerging star in the school’s choir.
When Wilhelm unexpectedly becomes next in line for the throne, he is forced to make a choice between love and his duty to the people of Sweden. The series chronicles Wilhelm and Simon’s challenging relationship as the pressures of Wilhelm’s royal obligations test the strength of their love.
"You’re the only person here I feel I can actually talk to." – Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (to Simon Eriksson)
The first season of “Young Royals” premiered on Netflix on July 1, 2021. On November 1, 2022, the second season dropped. The series was renewed for a third and final season in December 2022. Fans will not have to wait too long, though, because the third season is expected to be released later this year, so binge-watching starts now!
Amanda is a second-year journalism student at the University of Florida. Yes, she’s obsessed with Kit Connor, and no, you can’t ask her how many pictures there are of him in her camera roll.