Queer Representation in Movies & TV with Rowan Ellis

This week, Hannah chats to YouTuber and Advocate for women's rights & LGBTQ+ issues, Rowan Ellis. They focus on Queer representation in movies & TV, with Rowan talking us through terms like Queerbaiting, Queer-Coding, Queer-Catching, and tropes such as Bury Your Gays. They also discuss who should be playing Queer characters, and the controversy around straight, cis-actors winning awards for playing LGBTQ+ characters. Finally, Hannah and Rowan explore what good LGBTQ+ representation looks like, with Rowan sharing her movie & TV recommendations.


What we chat about…

  • Trope Glossary: Queerbaiting, Queer-Coding, Queer Catching, Bury Your Gays & Stray Bullet Syndrome.

  • Stand Out Representations & Rowan’s Recommendations: One Day at a Time, Love Simon, Sense 8, Pose, Princess Sid (there’s link to all these shows in the section below!)

  • The dangerous effect of Cis actors playing Trans characters, with Cis men playing Trans women perpetuating the idea of trans women being a ‘man in a dress’. We compare this to Pose and The OA, which casts trans actors properly.

  • The nuances that make proper representation, and how it’s not about making gay characters follow a heteronormative storyline. We also chat about the different stages of representation, and how the story of the ‘struggle’ & ‘difficulties’ of being gay comes first, but hopefully this will open up the door to storylines that focus less on trauma and sadness.

  • Rowan’s video about the evidence showing Captain Marvel was gay. We also talk about LGBTQ+ representation in the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, from Valkyrie’s cut scene to what the first representation of LGBTQ+ characters might be in the MCU (did Rowan’s predictions for End Game came true??")

  • Who should be able to play LGBTQ+ characters? Is it the case that actors are playing parts so any actor should be able to do any part? But, since 2000, 25 actors have been nominated for Oscars for playing queer characters and none of them have been queer!

  • Jack Whitehall in Jungle Cruise will be Disney’s first openly gay character - will this be played as a stereotype?

  • The annoyance of having to wait for representation - movies are made so far in advance it makes sense they’re behind the times, but when will it catch up?!

  • The future of cinema and LGBTQ+ representation - when will we see LGBTQ+ characters as Superheroes? Or in Westerns?

Useful Links


Rowan is a YouTuber and Advocate for women's rights & LGBTQ+ issues. She also co-organises the creative retreat Ruckus Retreat, and works at Penguin Platform.

Find out more about Rowan on her Twitter and Instagram, and YouTube.




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Hannah Witton