Hear me out… are queer coming out stories a thing of the past?


Coming out stories are undeniably important, but they’re not the be all and end all of the queer experience.

A role is exciting to me when it’s not solely about the struggle LGBTQ+ people go through, but the joy of being human navigating this landscape called life. Where our experiences of sexuality and gender and more are woven into the fabric of stories rather than being at the fore.

We have seen these types of stories more and more in mainstream TV and film in recent years. I believe these types of stories are ultimately more dynamic in 'normalising' the queer experience and moving the needle forward in the right direction.

I can remember some of my early experiences watching TV and there only being three channels at the time. Just seeing anyone that was slightly representative of you was huge.

More like this

At my grandparents' house, we had the one telly in the lounge, and whoever was watching the telly at the time would shout out to the rest of the family: "Quick, quick, quick - there's a Black person on TV!" And we’d all run at lightning speed to see a Black figure soft focus in the background - we felt validated. I recall that being a win.

It wasn't much better with LGBTQ+ representation. In 1994, Channel 4 aired the first female same-sex kiss on British TV on Brookside, a sweet moment between Beth Jordache (played by Anna Friel) and Margaret Clemence (played by Nicola Stephenson). It came five years after EastEnders aired the first kiss between two male characters in 1989. But again, that was it.

It really didn't register how little LGBTQ+ people were represented on TV until much later in my life, but you have to understand the premise and background of which one grows up in the UK as a Black person. You are othered, so it's just another othering. Being othered is the norm to you.

I remember a friend of a friend, who is from West Africa, saying with a laugh they hadn't realised they were 'Black' until they came to the UK. Ironically, anyone from the global majority living in the UK, I imagine, has felt othered - and whilst it hasn’t changed entirely, there has been progress.

It would be remiss and a disservice to the movers and the shakers, the bold change-makers, not to acknowledge that we have come on leaps and bounds in TV and film in the last 50 years! There is still such a long way to go, but I remain ever hopeful.

In the recent run of For Black Boys... at the Garrick Theatre, it was reported that teenagers were walking out because there's a gay kiss in it. My jaw literally dropped. In 2024? In London? But it just shows the importance of that representation - whether it's representation of different genders, ethnicities or sexualities - especially for younger generations.

Posters outside the Garrick Theatre for the play 'For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy' by Ryan Calais Cameron
Garrick Theatre. Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

My children have had a very different experience when it comes to representation around them. It is common in our community to be told by your parents that you have to be 10 times stronger to get ahead, and that was instilled in me. I didn't want to put that pressure on my children, but I want to make them aware of the challenges they will face.

When it came to representation, our house had the world in it - people from all over the world would either be living with us for a brief spell or visiting, and I had a whole spectrum of friends in the LGBTQ+ community coming over.

So, my children grew up surrounded by that. But then their schools were a very different world, and I know that my son had struggled with that. Some of the things that he was hearing at school - "gay" was a curse word at one point.

Connor Swindells as Adam Groff, Ncuti Gatwa as Eric Effiong, Asa Butterfield as Otis Milburn in Episode 6 of Sex Education Season 3 sat together
Sex Education. Sam Taylor/NETFLIX

Even having been raised around, nurtured and loved by queer people, it was possible for my son to be homophobic for a short spell of his life. I watched him battle home life versus what was acceptable in his circle at school, his friends, his friends' families which were vastly different to ours in that they were 'normal', in misogynist popular music, TV - you name it.

It was like fighting the whole damn world. That's how powerful culture and media outside of the home can be, and why it's so important to show different types of queer stories - not just coming out stories, but queer lives embedded in TV and film just like they're embedded in reality.

Some TV shows and films have got it spot on. One of my favourites is Sex Education. It covers not just the teens but the parents as well, the wider community - and it goes beyond the stereotypical coming out stories, which still have some place, but I just think if you want to understand our community, you need to go beyond that.

Sex Education is a great place to start. I think that series should be shown to every parent nowadays.

I don't have all the answers of the journey to more representative queer stories, but part of it is also having LGBTQ+ representation behind the camera. We need to have more queer people in the writers' rooms, producing, and as showrunners. Then, and only then, are we going to see real change.

T'Nia Miller has been RadioTimes.com Pride Month Guest Editor throughout June.


Check out more of our Drama coverage or Film coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to see what's on tonight. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.