Top 10 LGBTQ+ Characters in Musicals

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Top 10 LGBTQ+ Characters in Musicals

VOICE OVER: Emily Brayton WRITTEN BY: Jessica Walsh
These are the best LGBTQ+ musical theatre characters! They're queer, they're proud, and and they make us want to sing along. For this list, we're looking at queer characters from both on and off Broadway like Emma Nolan & Alyssa Greene from “The Prom” and Lola from “Kinky Boots”. Our picks are canonically queer, so as much as we love the idea that Elsa might have a girlfriend in a future Frozen installment, she unfortunately doesn't count...yet. Oh, and there may be some minor spoilers ahead! Join MsMojo as we count down our picks for the Top 10 LGBTQ Musical Theater Characters.
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Top 10 LGBTQ+ Musical Theater Characters


They’re queer, they’re proud, and and they make us want to sing along! Welcome to MsMojo and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 LGBTQ Musical Theater Characters.

For this list, we’re looking at queer characters from both on and off Broadway - but they must be canonically queer - so as much as we love the idea that Elsa might have a girlfriend in a future Frozen installment, she unfortunately doesn’t count - yet. Oh, and there may be some minor spoilers ahead.

#10: Peter Allen

“The Boy from Oz”

Aptly named, this musical tells the story of Peter Allen, a much lesser known musician who came to know Judy Garland and ended up married to her daughter, Liza Minnelli, for a few years before coming out as gay. Fellow Australian actor Hugh Jackman famously played the role on Broadway from 2003 to 2004. This musical explores many facets of Peter’s life - from his bisexuality to the AIDs crisis and dealing with parents and family after he comes out and a whole host of other common queer experiences. Still, throughout it all, the musical keeps an air of joy and love- which is incredibly refreshing since the majority of queer narratives tend to be overly tragic in nature.

#9: Emma Nolan & Alyssa Greene

“The Prom”

A modern musical, “The Prom”’s action kicks off when some self-absorbed Broadway actors read about Emma and her plight on Twitter. All Emma wants to do is bring her girlfriend to prom, but her small town is so close-minded that they fully cancel the event. As Emma sings, she “doesn’t want to start a riot, blaze a trail or be a symbol”; she just wants to dance with Alyssa, who’s nervous to come out. Though there’s hiccups along the way, hearts and minds open to the idea that all love should be embraced. Fun fact: when the cast of “The Prom” performed at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in 2018, it marked the first LGBTQ kiss on the program. That makes us feel like it’s “time to dance.”

#8: Rod

“Avenue Q”

We all remember those charming days of PBS with Sesame Street and the Muppets - well, now they’re just a little more grown up. In “Avenue Q,” the characters are a mixture of real life people and puppets, with their puppeteers in full display as part of the show. Rod is one of those puppets - an investment banker who insists he’s not gay, much to his roommate’s disbelief. Through Rod, we see the many stages in queer life, from being closeted to acceptance and becoming reacquainted with friends after the reveal. Though the puppet feels fully-fleshed out in his own right, the expressions on the puppeteers’ face only adds to the overall experience and story.

#7: Marvin

“Falsettos”

Coming out still isn’t easy today, but back in the late ‘70s, it was even more fraught with emotion given the pervasive homophobia and lack of acceptance in that time. While Marvin does have other queer people in his life, that doesn’t make it any easier for him. He’s simply trying to be happy with his new boyfriend Whizzer, while also still having a place in the life of his ex-wife and son, as any good father would. Through trials and pain, he shares his feelings on stage with the audience with staggering honesty, especially in the end when he swears that, no matter what, he would do it all again.

#6: Celie

“The Color Purple”

Black women did not have an easy life back in the early 20th century- not to say that racial prejudice is by any means a thing of the past. The story of Celie is a familiar and painful tale of lack of control and respect and what it can do to a woman. Yet, despite the many ways in which her life can feel bleak, there’s a light in the form of Shug, another woman who isn’t afraid to love Celie for everything she is and what she might become. Shug’s love helps Celie find the power to love herself and rediscover how to hope and dream for the best - because she does deserve it, despite the world telling her the contrary.

#5: Peter Simmonds

“Bare: A Pop Opera” & “Bare: The Musical”

It’s not easy being queer, especially when you attend a private Catholic boarding school. To compound matters, Peter - an altar boy- is also in love with his roommate Jason - the perfect golden boy of the school. These two have a perfect and forbidden love, not unlike Romeo and Juliet, and we don’t want to give anything away, but... we all know how that ended. All too often tragedy follows queer characters on stage, but Peter’s story stands out because of his pure love and unwillingness to ignore the betrayals of those around him.

#4: Lola

“Kinky Boots”

Inspired by true events, “Kinky Boots” tells the story of Charlie Price, a man who inherits a shoe factory from his father, only to find that the business is in disarray and hemorrhaging money. However, with the help of Lola, a local drag queen, Charlie is inspired to create high heeled boots for performers like herself and change the trajectory of the entire business. Lola is a shining example of accepting who you are in spite of the world around you and working toward what you believe in. This isn’t a love story and it doesn’t focus on who she ends up with in the end; instead it’s about her life and how she helped inspire something that touched so many people’s lives and livelihoods.

#3: Hedwig Robinson

“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”


Hedwig Robinson is a very interesting person and does she ever have a story to tell. Her journey is unique and varied, even troublesome at times, with her being genderqueer and having undergone a botched sex change in order to get married and come to America. Even when she does arrive, her new husband soon leaves her for another man. She is left wondering where she fits in this new place, especially since she went to such great lengths to change herself to get there. Hard and edgy to protect a sweet side, Hedwig is very relatable, and her story will especially resonate with misfits and those who feel a bit broken inside.

#2: Alison Bechdel

“Fun Home”

Notable as the first Broadway musical to have a lesbian protagonist, “Fun Home” is the story of Alison Bechdel, based on her biographical graphic novel of the same name. Throughout the story, Alison deals with the familiar story of coming out of the closet, but also with the fact that her own father is gay and his partners are on the younger side. Alison’s story is one of discovery and acceptance. It hammers home the fact that we’re all different and those differences need to be embraced and explored, even when that makes life more difficult.

Before we get to number one, let's take a short intermission for these honorable mentions.

La Cienega
“Bring It On: The Musical”

Hanschen Rilow
“Spring Awakening”

Pythio
“Head Over Heels”

Gordon Schwinn
“A New Brain”

Kate
“If/Then”

#1: Angel Dumott Schunard

“Rent”


Angel is the undeniable driving force behind the story of Rent, managing to touch the lives of every member of the cast in some way or another - which made us ultimately choose them over other characters such as Maureen and Joanne. Originally introduced as a street bucket drum performer and drag queen, Angel is utterly selfless, using the money made to spread cheer amongst their similarly impoverished and marginalized friends. Sweet, loving, tragic and timeless, this genderqueer performer truly lives up to their name, providing their friends with love and warmth even after they’re gone.
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