While there has been more live-action representation for queer folks of color over the years, there hasn’t always been the same equivalent for animated shows. But these five BIPOC queer animated icons are among the stand-outs we couldn’t help but fall head over heels over.
Optimistic, resourceful, and self-assured, Benson provides a refreshing contrast to the cynical post-apocalyptic setting. It’s also worth noting that Benson’s sexuality was also made explicit with a revolutionary coming out scene in the season one episode “Ratland,” in which Benson simply tells his friend Kipo, “I’m gay.” Plus, he falls in love with an Asian-Mexican boy named Troy due to their love of hip-hop, flapjacks, and saving each other’s lives! Who doesn’t love an interracial couple with actual chemistry?
Abrasive. Stubborn. Powerful. These are all words to describe the titular protagonist, Korra, from The Legend of Korra. However, she also has struggles that go beyond her love troubles. Not only was she constantly facing criticism from everyone for her role as the Avatar, a being who can bend the four elements and is a peace representative between the two worlds, but she also deals with PTSD as a result of her hazardous encounters with the villains of the series. Although it’s quite hilarious that she dumped her boyfriend Mako and ended up with Asami, his ex-girlfriend, the show and comics portray a very nuanced, healthy relationship between the two female leads that is brimming with ups and downs.
Haruhi Fujioka is a highly intelligent and responsible student who is attending the elite Ouran Academy on a merit scholarship. However, even her intelligence can’t save her from the outlandish antics of the other rich host club cast members. In the series, she takes on the role of a male host to pay back her debts after a very stupid accident, keeping her gender a secret from the host club’s clients to keep up the charade. Haruhi Fujioka is a highly intelligent and responsible student who is attending the elite Ouran Academy on a merit scholarship. However, even her intelligence can’t save her from the outlandish antics of the other rich host club cast members. In the series, she takes on the role of a male host to pay back her debts after a very stupid accident, keeping her gender a secret from the host club’s clients to keep up the charade. Although she identifies as female, she says she doesn’t mind being perceived as another gender and sometimes refers to herself with gender-neutral pronouns.
As the main character of one of the most popular manga series in the world, Luffy’s character shines in his simplicity. This man is only interested in food, fighting strong opponents, and the company of his crewmates. It’s also been confirmed by the author in an SBS that while Luffy can recognize attractive features in a person, he “doesn’t particularly care.” Even the most beautiful woman in the world, Boa Hancock, wasn’t able to use her power against him—an ability that turns everyone who is attracted to her into stone. With such a charming personality, it’s no wonder that this shonen protagonist was able to gather allies all over the world to support his all-encompassing dream—becoming the King of the Pirates.
A human becoming a witch? The idea sounds inherently absurd. Yet, that’s exactly what Luz does after being suddenly transported from Connecticut to the Boiling Isles. Despite not having any magical abilities on her own, she discovers an alternate method of casting spells by using glyphs. Other than being mentored by the most powerful witch on the island and overthrowing a tyrannical ruler within her short stay, she was also able to befriend a high school bully that eventually became her cotton candy-haired goddess girlfriend.
It can be difficult to find quality LGBTQ+ content for BIPOC people, regardless of whether it’s live-action or animation. However, the entertainment industry is changing. While progress is slow, it’s steady, and we can only hope we all find our own representation someday. Even if these characters are fictional, they have a very real-world impact.