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> 13 times soap broke LGBTQ+ ground
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post Jul 2 2018, 08:06 PM
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13 times soaps broke LGBTQ+ ground, from EastEnders' gay kiss to Coronation Street's first trans character

Soaps have long been loud and proud when it comes to addressing sexual orientations, identities and issues alike. However, when Coronation Street was first broadcast in 1960, it was unimaginable that two characters of the same sex could ever share the same bed, let alone have a relationship.

Fast-forward more than 57 years and soaps have continued to raise awareness of LGBTQ+ themes, allowing people who may be experiencing such issues to know they are not alone. As part of our celebratory Pride series, here are just some of the ways soaps have broken LGBTQ+ ground over the years.

1. British soap's first gay character (1985)
Brookside introduced the first openly gay character in soap history in 1985. Gordon Collins, played by Nigel Cowley at the time, had his sexuality discovered by his mum Annabelle when she learnt of his relationship with another man. Although it caused the family embarrassment, they would go on to accept their son's sexuality.

The soap also explored homophobia within society, with the family becoming the target of thugs. Gordon's character led the way for other soaps to introduce their own gay characters.

2. The first ever gay kiss on British TV (1989)
Four years later, 20 million people tuned in to watch EastEnders broadcast the first gay kiss. Colin Russell (played by Lord Michael Cashman) and his partner Barry Clark (played by Gary Hailes) shared the first same sex mouth-to-mouth kiss, which became one of the most ground-breaking scenes in soap and television history.

Away from the small screen, Lord Cashman has continued to fight for gay rights and equality, founding LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall and helping to make a rapid and peaceful change for the community within society.

3. Brookside's lesbian kiss (1994)
It was back to Brookside to land another ground-breaking moment for LGBTQ+ representation in 1994, airing the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss between characters Margaret Clemence (Nicola Stephenson) and Beth Jordache (Anna Friel).

Although it was a leading moment in soap history more than 20 years ago, the scene was included as part of the 2012 London Olympic opening ceremony, which was broadcast to a global audience of 5 billion. The audience included 76 countries where homosexuality is illegal and therefore, the scene became the first gay kiss to be broadcast in these countries. Way to go Danny Boyle!

4. Exploring sexuality (1995)
Tony Hills, who appeared in EastEnders between 1995 and 1999, was the first soap character to identify as bisexual.

Emmerdale also explored bisexuality when loveable rogue Charity Dingle began an affair with Zoe Tate in 2001, while EastEnders delved deeper into sexual identity in 2006, when Sonia Fowler began an open relationship with Naomi Julien.

5. Introducing transgender characters (1998)
Hayley Cropper quickly became one of Coronation Street's much-loved characters when she walked on to the cobbles in 1998 and told future husband Roy that she was transgender.

Much like society at the time, Roy's initial reaction was to push Hayley away. But putting friendship before prejudice, the two became one of the most-loved duos in soap history. When Hayley's past was exposed to the whole street, she was sacked from her job at Underworld and judged by many.

Along with the whole nation, the local residents' hearts later warmed and they accepted Hayley for who she was. In 2010, Hayley and Roy solidified their relationship by marrying each other, as parliament had changed the Gender Recognition Act of 2004 so that transgender people could marry. As a result, Roy and Hayley could have their union officially recognised by the law as man and wife.

6. First cross-dressing character (2006)
In 2006, student Kris Fisher arrived in the not-so tranquil Chester village of Hollyoaks. But this character wasn't one to fade into the background and Kris's appearance was one that many loyal 'Oaks fans are not likely to forget.

Kris became the first permanent cross-dressing character in soap history and his character led the way for others such as Hollyoaks' own Dylan Jenkins and EastEnders' Les Coker in 2015. Unlike Hollyoaks' representation of cross-dressing, Les's character took on a female persona, Christine, whilst wearing women's clothing.

7. Homosexuality in the Muslim community (2009)
In 2009, Walford welcomed a handsome addition to the Masood household with the arrival of the family's eldest son Syed, played by Marc Elliot, who faced a major conflict between his feelings and his faith, as he fell in love with Christian Clarke.

Syed wanted to stay true to his religion and even married his girlfriend Amira, but he eventually gave into his feelings and later came out as gay, becoming the first gay Muslim character in a British soap.

Facing an initial backlash from his family, Syed finally received acceptance, entered into a civil partnership with Christian and left the Square in 2012 to begin a new life with his partner away from Walford. Now if that's not a fairy-tale ending, what is?

8. Same-sex domestic violence (2010)
Hollyoaks began a dark storyline in 2010 when Ste Hay entered an abusive relationship with Brendan Brady. Although this was not the first domestic abuse storyline Ste had been a part of, this was the first such storyline to be broadcast on a British soap between a same-sex couple.

As dark as the plot was, the couple were shipped by many fans and Ste's character had deep-rooted feelings for Brendan, even after the abuse.

The storyline was fundamental in many ways, including Ste's character coming out as gay and the actor himself, Kieron Richardson, also announcing his sexuality during a live interview on This Morning.

9. Away from Home, over to Neighbours (2010)
Don't worry, we haven't forgotten about our friends Down Under. Although British soaps have had their share of LGBTQ+ landmark moments, Australian soaps have, too – and none better than Neighbours who, although a little behind the times, introduced their first regular male gay character in 2010 with the arrival of Chris Pappas (played by James Mason).

Before Chris's arrival, gay characters had minor roles and were only included in short storylines. Avid Neighbours fans will remember Lana Crawford (played by Bridget Neval) in 2004 as the soap's first lesbian character – however, the character was written out just a year after her arrival.

Chris's character was more or less campaigned for by fans of the soap online, who requested producers include permanent gay characters on the show.

Almost a decade later and several more LGBTQ+ characters have graced the sunny paths of Ramsay Street. In May, it was announced the soap would again make history with its first same-sex marriage, when characters David Tanaka and Aaron Brennan became engaged.

The same can't be said for all Aussie soaps, however. Home and Away are still to break any significant LGBTQ+ ground, with no regular gay character being cast to date.

Nine years ago, a same-sex couple did feature – however, the decision faced much backlash and criticism, leading to a same-sex kiss being pulled from broadcast.

Currently, guest character Ty is the only gay character to have appeared on the soap in the last nine years. Here's hoping this character's stay could be extended to become more permanent.

10. First same-sex marriage in British soap (2014)
After legislation was passed for same-sex marriages to take place in England in March 2014, Hollyoaks lined up its very own for the December of the same year.

After numerous ups and downs, Ste Hay and John Paul McQueen finally tied the knot in the Christmas episode, becoming the first married same-sex couple in a British soap.

11. Living with HIV (2015)
In January 2015, Hollyoaks' Ste also became the first openly gay character on a British soap to be living with HIV, after a one-night stand.

The storyline was broadcast to show the effects of diagnosis personally, as well as reactions from family and friends. Working with HIV and sexual health charity The Terrence Higgins Trust, Hollyoaks raised awareness of the importance of safe sex.

12. Transgender cast members in transgender roles (2015)
Although Corrie's Hayley was the first transgender character to appear in a British soap, it wasn't until late 2015 that not one but two transgender actors were cast in trans roles. EastEnders introduced the half-brother of Stacey Slater, Kyle, and Hollyoaks' new headmistress Sally St. Claire arrived and finally connected with her long-lost son John Paul.

Both castings became monumental in soap history, with huge praise from the LGBTQ+ community. Although Kyle's character left a year later, Sally has become a figurehead of the Hollyoaks community, even beginning a same-sex relationship with former flame Myra McQueen.

13. Asexuality and still breaking new ground (2018)
Even in 2018, soaps are still exploring LGBTQ+ themes for the first time. Emmerdale has led the way with popular character Liv Flaherty and her asexuality storyline, a British soap first. Earlier this year, Liv kissed her best friend Gabby Thomas to explore her sexuality as she felt no attraction to boys. However, after the kiss, Liv discovered she didn't have sexual feelings for either sex.

Here's to soaps continuing to break LGBTQ+ ground, our most reliable source for representation on TV.

(Source: Digital Spy)
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post Jul 2 2018, 08:12 PM
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Neighbours in particular has come such a long way.
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post Jul 4 2018, 01:54 AM
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rip in peace Dickston
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I thought Charlie (or maybe her sister/daughter) was gay in Home and Away?
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post Jul 4 2018, 02:41 AM
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The real groundbreaker was Donna and Sunny's kiss in Neighbours tbh xx

It's great to look back on all these moments that changed TV and had impact on popular culture and society. It's amazing there is still stuff that is invisible in 2018 such as asexuality that is only just being touched upon!

QUOTE(Dexton @ Jul 4 2018, 02:54 AM) *
I thought Charlie (or maybe her sister/daughter) was gay in Home and Away?

She had that one same-sex relationship for like... a month and it was cut short and totally watered down because of right-wing groups complaining. It also kinda felt a bit like "look we've got a lesbian!11" stunt storyline rather than anything ground breaking or representative, especially as iirc Charlie's sexuality was never even mentioned after that (although the furore probably didn't help and the ridiculous Christian groups being idiots made it so that the show has shyed away from casting a gay until very recently and even then I think he's just a guest :/). I haven't watched it for years but it's astounding they're still tiptoeing around these issues in 2018....
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post Jul 4 2018, 03:18 AM
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rip in peace Dickston
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QUOTE(Liаm @ Jul 4 2018, 10:41 AM) *
it's astounding they're still tiptoeing around these issues in 2018....

That’s Australia for you :’)
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post Jul 4 2018, 07:14 AM
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Corrie's first gay kiss was Todd and Nick wasn't it back in 2003?
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