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In Hollywood, LGBT characters still seem slightly taboo'd. Unless the movie's specific theme is sexuality or LGBT related, it seems as if nearly all characters are heterosexual. In stand-alone movies, it seems more common to feature LGBT characters, usually in a discrete manner. However, the problem is worsened in large franchises and series spanning several movies.

To be frank, from all the famous franchises that are currently popular (Transformers, Fast & Furious, Star Wars, Star Trek, MCU, Planet of the Apes, etc), the only LGBT character I can recall is Sulu, from Star Trek Beyond.

So, to properly phrase my question, when was the earliest time that a LGBT character was prominently featured in a franchise whose main focus is not sexuality?

Some definitions:

  • To be prominently featured, characters must not be a random side-character, but instead one of the main characters, with actual influence on the plot, lines, and whose appearance exists in more than half the movies of the franchise.
  • A franchise is a series of movies on the same universe. Lets say that at least 3 movies is necessary to be a franchise.
  • The main focus of the franchise must not be sexuality itself, or LGBT themed topics around it. While the movie/franchise may feature sexuality, it should be somewhat of an afterthought, one who is not the main point of the movie and plot.
  • The specific date is the date in which the LGBT character was shown to be gay. If a franchise began 50 years ago, but the characters only showed up 20 years ago, and was only shown to be LGBT 10 years ago, then the comparison date is "10 years ago"
  • I'm not sure what was the first. I even think that almost no answer of the type "what was the first" can be falsifiable (there's no way to guarantee any answer is right, because there are lost old films). Anyway, we can answer and see the oldest we can discover. – ESL Jun 27 '17 at 0:29
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    I don't actually think there is, till nowadays, a franchise with a really declared important LGBT character. I haven't watched Sulu in Star Trek, and I believe he is declared gay to pay tribute to George Takei. But it seems, as you linked, they removed the scene where he kissed the guy... Was it clear by the movie, at any given point, that he is gay? – LeonX Jun 27 '17 at 13:05
  • @LeonFreire Yes, he is seen together with another male, holding hands or with a kid (don't remember exactly how it goes, haven't seen the movie in a while) – BlueMoon93 Jun 27 '17 at 13:07
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    Congratulations, this question is the winner of the corresponding topic challenge. – Ankit Sharma Jul 3 '17 at 13:44
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    I'm actually glad that you accepted the most recent answer :) – steelersquirrel Jul 14 '17 at 18:36
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OK, if you're going to discount Pussy Galore and accept Frau (an answer I considered, myself), then you have to go back to 1984's Revenge Of The Nerds (which pre-dates the Austin Powers series by 15 years) and look at Lamar. He was in 4 of the franchise's films, and was clearly homosexual.

He was a main member of the group, he was in almost every film in the franchise, and the films were not primarily about sexuality, although coming from an era where sexual content was high (think Porky's, Hollywood Knights and other movies where nudity was crammed into every empty space they could fit it).

Here's his bio from the Nerds wiki:

http://revengeofthenerds.wikia.com/wiki/Lamar_Latrell

A brief excerpt:

Lamar is a homosexual nerd who speaks and acts very effeminately. He often dresses in colorful clothes. He isn't so much a nerd, but like the nerds, he is an outcast and can't confront people who put him down.

EDIT:

As requested, here's a little "collage" of Lamar. Note in one scene the President of the college is mentioning discrimination and Lamar offers up "And sexual orientation!". In another scene, Lewis is asking about dates for a party, Lamar says he has one, and Booger says, "Yeah, but that's with a guy".

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    I discounted Pussy Galore for the fact that she wasn't explicitly gay/bi in the movie. This answer fits our criteria a lot better, great job! – BlueMoon93 Jul 14 '17 at 12:34
  • Great answer! And...at the party to "impress" Lambda Lambda Lambda, Lamar is actually shown with his male date. – steelersquirrel Jul 14 '17 at 18:35
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Pussy Galore in 1964's Goldfinger (James Bond franchise) was a lesbian.

In the book:

In Fleming's 1959 novel Goldfinger, Pussy Galore is the only woman in the United States known to be running an organised crime gang. Initially trapeze artists, her group of performing catwomen, "Pussy Galore and her Abrocats", is unsuccessful, and so the women train as cat burglars instead.

Her group evolves into an all-lesbian organisation, based in Harlem, known as the Cement Mixers.

In the film:

In the film, Pussy is first seen when Bond wakes up in Goldfinger's private jet, having been knocked out with a tranquiliser gun by a Goldfinger henchman. He is lying on a couch when he regains consciousness, and since the first thing he sees when he opens his eyes is her stunning blonde-framed visage leaning over him, the dialog runs as follows:

James Bond: Who are you?

Pussy Galore: My name is Pussy Galore.

James Bond: I must be dreaming.[6]

She then asserts that the nature of her employment for Goldfinger is that she's "a damn good pilot", clearly intending to suggest that there is no relationship of a more intimate nature between them, and tells Bond, "You can turn off the charm. I'm immune." She is the leader of Pussy Galore's Flying Circus, a group of women aviators connected with Goldfinger's "Operation Grand Slam" (played in certain scenes by stuntmen in blonde wigs).

Her assertion that "I'm immune" is an indicator that she favors women.

While not prominent in the entire series, she did make a comeback in the 2015 Bond continuation novel Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz, set in the 1950s two weeks after the events of Goldfinger.

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    Yeah... the problem I had is that later in the film Bond seduces her. The "I'm immune" line went from meaning she's gay to meaning she just wasn't interested in Bond at that point. They basically stripped the film character of her sexuality. – Tim Jun 26 '17 at 20:28
  • Then, @Tim, she was bi, so anyway it is a valid answer. – ESL Jun 27 '17 at 0:26
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    @ESL - I don't think her sexuality was sufficiently revealed in the film to qualify. Watching the film without knowledge of the book, you wouldn't know she was bi, or lesbian, or anything other than hetero. – Tim Jun 27 '17 at 4:10
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    @Tim Not only that, but she only shows in 1 movie – BlueMoon93 Jun 27 '17 at 13:09
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This is a ridiculous answer... but it does meet the criteria in a way which the Bond example doesn't.

Frau Farbissina, from the spy parody Austin Powers film series, who in 1999's "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me" was shown as being in a romantic relationship with another woman. There are also some plotlines where she is involved with a male character, but (unlike Ms Galore) she is shown as having at least one unambiguous same-sex romantic relationship, shown on screen and directly referred to in dialogue:

enter image description here

It's not likely to be recorded as a great moment in LGBT cinema history... I don't think her girlfriend even has any lines and I believe she disappears completely in the next film. But it is an example of a mainstream film franchise with a major character who happens to be LGBT, and it fits the criteria:

  • Prominently featured: She's one of the top people in the villain's organisation, features in every film, has plenty of dialogue and involvement in major plotlines, even has her own Wikipedia page.
  • In a franchise of at least three films (currently exactly three, but there have been off-and-on rumours of a fourth)
  • Not primarily about sexuality - it's mostly a spoof spy comedy, which does feature sex and sexuality as a theme, but "not the main point of the movie and plot".

And it's not that bad a representation... Despite being in a film series where everything is an over-the-top parody, the relationship itself seems relatively normal, and most of the jokes it sets up aren't about sexuality (e.g. the unibrowed girlfriend's name: "Una Brau").


I tried to find something better than this... but even after browsing some of the LGBT Cinema list articles on Wikipedia the closest I could see Dracula's Daughter (1936) - but this Dracula franchise never got a third film and any same sex attraction was only implied.

One other possibility is the Police Academy franchise (from 1984) which includes a (very stereotypical) gay bar as a recurring location, but I'm not aware of any actual characters being gay at all - from the very little I've seen of these films the only gay characters were extras.

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The Bond case mentioned seems like more of an implication than an outright statement (at least in the movie version), and I don't recall the movie making any other references to it than that, though I haven't seen it in ages. I doubt the average intended audience member would have picked up on that, though I wasn't alive then, so maybe I'm wrong.

There are at least 2 earlier ones that I remember where it is explicit and not played (entirely) for laughs. The first is Billy Crystal's character Jodie Dallas on Soap from 1977. (The show was a comedy, but they tackled some very serious issues and got serious when required.)

But even earlier than that, Ed Wood made Glen or Glenda, a terrible (but serious) film about a transvestite (transgendered?) man and a person who gets a sex change operation in 1953. IMDB gives this synopsis:

"Glen or Glenda" tells two stories. One is about Glen, who secretly dresses as a woman but is afraid to tell his fiancée, Barbara. The other is about Alan, a pseudohermaphrodite who undergoes a painful operation to become a woman. Both stories are told by Dr. Alton, who also delivers an earnest lecture on tolerance and understanding.

Though, I guess in the case of Glen or Glenda, it wasn't a franchise, so perhaps it doesn't fit.

  • Isn't Soap a TV series rather than a film franchise? Or were there films as well? – user568458 Jul 12 '17 at 8:23
  • Ah, you are correct - it is just a TV series. I didn't pick up on that point in the question when I read it originally. – user1118321 Jul 12 '17 at 16:08
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The Mannequin series from the late 80s and early 90s featured the character Hollywood. He plays a supporting role in both the original and in Mannequin 2:On the Move.

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