Guides to Pride can be a complicated endeavour these days, as the annual celebration of LGBTQ+ identity now regularly involves the very forces — corporations, cops — it once stood against. And don't even get us started on our mixed feelings about celebrating queer stories from Hollywood networks and studios that too often waver when their courtship of LGBTQ+ audiences becomes politically inconvenient.
And yet. At a moment when LGBTQ+ people and their civil rights are under fire from conservative groups and right-wing politicians, it's important to be reminded of our vibrant presence in every nook and cranny of society, real and fictional, past and present. So we've pulled together a list of eight new TV series — or returning TV series with new seasons — to catch up with this Pride Month.
After all, the old saying never really gets old: We're here, we're queer, get used to it.
“Book of Queer”
The most appropriate way to kick off Pride Month is with a celebration of LGBTQ+ history, honouring the heroes who likely never imagined there would be a month-long explosion of rainbow merchandise and corporate statements.
With the help of queer historians and experts, “The Book of Queer” aims to shed light on historical figures whose contributions have been overlooked, or their queer identities erased, by mainstream society. Narrated by queer icons and featuring an entirely LGBTQ+ ensemble cast, the five-episode series will include stories about Abraham Lincoln, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bayard Rustin, Josephine Baker, Harvey Milk, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson and more.
As conservative lawmakers across the US attempt to ban educators from even acknowledging the existence of queer and trans people in classrooms, this series, infusing facts with comedy and musical fun, is a vital reminder that LGBTQ+ people have existed throughout history.
How to watch: Premiered on Discovery+
“Dead End: Paranormal Park”
Fans of queer cartoons should make sure to clear their schedules for the arrival of “Dead End: Paranormal Park.” The animated horror-comedy, based on creator Hamish Steele's graphic novel series “DeadEndia,” follows trans teen Barney (voiced by Zach Barack) who gets a job at the local haunted theme park where an encounter with a demon gives his dog Pugsley (Alex Brightman) the ability to talk.
The coming-of-age story will see Barney, along with his pal Norma (Kody Kavitha), encounter zombies, ghosts and other supernatural beings while also navigating family, identity and even crushes.
The current political climate is especially hostile toward queer and trans youth, so an LGBTQ+-inclusive kids and family series in which a young trans protagonist (voiced by a trans actor) finds a space and friends that let him embrace his true self and laugh along the way cannot premiere soon enough.
How to watch: Premieres June 16 on Netflix in the US
If you're dying for a dose of delicious supernatural queer teen angst, look no further than “First Kill.” Based on a short story by V.E. Schwab, the series puts a young lesbian twist on the classic forbidden romance between a vampire and a slayer.
Teenage vampire Juliette Fairmont (Sarah Catherine Hook) has hit vamp adolescence and is finally expected to kill and feed on actual humans. Although she has been pushing back against this rite of passage for as long as possible, Jules can't help but be drawn to her crush, Calliope Burns (Imani Lewis). Cal, a recent transfer student, has a secret of her own: She's the youngest daughter of a family of monster hunters.
Cal is eager to prove that she can take down a demon by herself, but she quickly discovers that killing Juliette is as impossible as denying her feelings for her. The series should appeal to anyone who thought “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” or “Twilight” would have been better if it were gay.
How to watch: Premieres June 10 on Netflix
Based on the experiences of a landowning Yorkshire woman of the 19th century, “Gentleman Jack” stars Suranne Jones as Anne Lister, often called “the first modern lesbian” for the intimate relationships with women she recorded in her queer-coded diaries.
Along with my beloved “Dickinson” (Apple TV+), the series — which just concluded its second season — offers a richly detailed portrait of the ways that queer people managed to live, and love, long before there were modern terms for our sexuality or gender identity. Plus, Anne's sheer, decisive capable-ness as a business-minded lesbian in a patriarchal society might be the “Move. I'm gay” meme of Georgian England.
How to watch: Seasons 1-2 streaming on HBO Max
“Motherland: Fort Salem”
The ambitious “Motherland: Fort Salem” is set in an alternate US where witches ended the persecution of the Salem witch trials by agreeing to be conscripted into the military. The series follows Raelle Collar (Taylor Hickson), Tally Craven (Jessica Sutton) and Abigail Bellweather (Ashley Nicole Williams), a trio of witches who initially clash but grow close as they train as a combat unit.
The “just enough” world building and unique rules of magic open the doors to questions the show doesn't always answer, but the appeal of the series really stems from the characters and their relationships. The central romance of the show is between Raelle and a fellow student named Scylla (Amalia Holm) whose secrets bring drama to their relationship. “Motherland: Fort Salem” is a good guilty pleasure. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
How to watch: Season 3 premieres June 21 on Freeform; Seasons 1-2 on Hulu
“Queer as Folk”
The men, the sex and the city are hotter than Hades in Peacock's multicultural, New Orleans-set remake of the pioneering soap, this time without the same over-reliance on white, cis men to propel the narrative. (Whether you see its depiction of a mass murder reminiscent of the Pulse nightclub shooting as a strained device or an apt reflection of current affairs and LGBTQ history is another matter.)
Still, carving out new terrain by moving Babylon to Frenchmen Street, and queer Southerners — especially queer people of color — to the foreground, this “Queer as Folk” conjures its share of carnal pleasures. As Brodie's (Devin Way) move home upends the lives of his ex (Johnny Sibilly) and a talented young drag artist (Fin Argus), you can have your bourbon ginger and drink it too. As for the rest, painfully earnest and more than a little pained do not read, in this particular political moment, as terribly far off the mark.
How to watch: Premieres June 9 on Peacock
“This Is Going to Hurt”
In the annals of the medium's brilliant, dissolute medical professionals (Gregory House, Jackie Peyton), few have had quite so harrowing a job as Adam (Ben Whishaw), the blood-splotched National Health Service OB-GYN of “This Is Going to Hurt.”
The audacious black comedy, based on the memoir by Adam Kay, finds its workaholic protagonist at the center of a bureaucratic, medical and personal maelstrom, each indignity matched by a wry comment to the viewer (or to his boyfriend at home), and, ultimately, by Adam's own desperation.
Anchored by what may be Whishaw's finest screen performance, equal parts bruising and bruised, the series turns a very recognizable queer life into the the kind of television straight people typically get to carry: Adam is the gay antihero we deserve.
How to watch: Premiered Thursday on AMC+
How to watch: Season 3 premieres June 22 on Netflix; Seasons 1-2 also on Netflix