Instead of continuing to complain about what we don’t have in the media (something we do quite a lot here on Cypher Avenue), we decided to appreciate the positives and celebrate the best black gay characters we’ve seen in film and television.
All of the characters were chosen based on their complexity, realism, creative characterization and the overall performance rendered by the talented actors who filled their shoes. We left web series characters out of contention because, quite frankly, all of them have sucked so far.
Lastly, ambiguously gay characters have been left off of this list. The characters chosen were only those who either clearly stated that they were gay on-screen or were seen engaging and enjoying same-sex intimacy.
13. “Wade Robinson” [Jensen Atwood] – Noah’s Arc (TV Series & Film)
Admittedly, Wade Robinson of Noah’s Arc wasn’t the most complex character on the show. And his instant transition from being a masculine heterosexual black man exclusively dating women to being in a full-fledged, head-over-heels-in-love gay relationship with a flamboyant fem was totally unbelievable.
However we did appreciate the consistent eye candy that was Jensen Atwood. Also, it was nice to see Wade be a regular guy, unlike his fem counterparts on the show. He struggled as a failed actor and is later seen working in the warehouse of a furniture store. You can’t get more everyday than that.
Beyond that, unfortunately, his masculine character only served as a fantasy and an object of desire for fems. Although every other character in Noah’s little “arc” of friends got their own character building storylines and obstacles, it was extremely rare to ever see Wade have any screen time that wasn’t related to his relationship with Noah.
12. “Officer Julien Lowe” [Michael Jace] – The Shield (TV Series)
We originally left this character off of the list, not just because we forgot all about him, but for the fact that (now convicted murderer) Michael Jace as Julien Lowe was extremely frustrating to watch on screen. True, he defied stereotypes by being a tough cop, not a fashion stylist. However, the character paralyzingly struggled with his sexuality for years on-screen to the point that he almost became boring to watch.
On reflective thought, what made his character so great was the complexity that came with that struggle. This was a rare character who denied his homosexuality, not for status or concern for how his friends and family would view him. His struggle evolved from his deep religious beliefs that told him being gay was a sin, not unlike what many men are still going through to this day.
His rise from a beat cop officer to a detective was overshadowed with his inner conflict and repression, leading him to live a down low lifestyle. The horrible decisions he makes all stem from him being extremely closeted and paranoid.
11. “Boo” [Oneil Cespedes] – The D.L. Chronicles (TV Series)
The D.L. Chronicles‘s most popular character has to be the down low thug, Boo. He’s by far the most fascinating and complex character in the history of the series. In 20 short minutes we see Boo struggle with his sexuality, his relationships with his girlfriend (and side-piece boyfriend) and his identity as a bisexual black man in general.
Whether we like to admit it or not, men like Boo do exist in the world. It’s a shame that actor Oneil Cespedes hasn’t done much else in film or television since this amazing performance back in 2007.
10. “Calvin Owens” [Paul James] – Greek (TV Series)
The ABC Family dramedy, “Greek” was surprising in that it featured multiple gay characters, none of which fit the usual stereotypes. On top of that, the creators of the show made a point to add a masculine black gay character named Calvin Owens who was an all-state hockey and football player. Keep in mind this was back in 2007, long before examples like Jason Collins and Michael Sam jumped into the public eye.
You have to give credit to ABC Family for showing multiple gay relationships in this series on a network that has “Family” in its name. The people that actually saw “Greek” during its six season run got to see Calvin Owens as a normal, relatable, everyday black gay man…not a flamboyant reality show stereotype.
9. “Thomas Gavin” [Gabriel Corbin] – The D.L. Chronicles (TV Series)
Gabriel’s Corbin’s powerful performance as paralyzed firefighter Thomas Gavin is still engraved into our brains ever since we saw it last year in the first new episode of The D.L. Chronicles in seven years.
Outside of the character displaying complex raw emotions, Thomas Gavin stood out from many of the other black gay characters in film and television in that he was totally believable as a flesh and blood person.
By the end of the short film, you personally feel his pain and triumph as he comes to term with both his disability and his sexuality.
8. “Sean ‘Kaldrick King’ Dugan” [Andra Fuller] – The L.A. Complex (TV)
The character may not have been perfect…he may not have been the best role model for young black gay men…But its hard to deny that The L.A. Complex’s Sean Dugan (aka Kaldrick King) was a breath of fresh air in the world of prime time network television.
Also, actor Andra Fuller playing the troubled, complicated character was irresistible to watch. Watching Kaldrick’s transition from angry down-low black man to a person coming to terms with his sexuality and relationship with his abusive father was addictive.
7. “Carter Heywood” [Michael Boatman] – Spin City (TV Series)
From 1996 to 2002, Michael Boatman convincingly played black gay character Carter Heywood, Head of Minority Affairs at City Hall in New York City.
Way back then we had an Out and Open professional black gay character that wasn’t a hair stylist or an In Living Color snap queen. By the end of the series, Carter Heywood even becomes a father, adopting a baby boy named Sam.
See the NEXT PAGE to view the remaining 6 Best Black Gay Characters…EVER!