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The most intriguing new LGBT characters of 2013

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Though the number of new LGBT characters on TV fell slightly this year, there were still quite a few noteworthy, new ones in entertainment media that truly stood out from the crowd.  Some of them were a big hit with audiences while others broke molds and defied stereotypes, but all of them helped make 2013 increasingly diverse when it came to LGBT representations.

1) When it premiered at the Cannes film festival, Blue is the Warmest Color made headlines for both its explicit content and critical raves, winning the coveted Palme d'Or grand prize.  The film follows a teenage girl named Adele over the course of several years as she falls in love with a young woman named Emma, leaves school, and struggles with the emotional complexities of an adult relationship.  Her journey will seem familiar to many LGBT viewers, but what sets Adele apart is the grounded yet searing performance from actress Adele Exarchopoulos bringing her to life.

2) Fox's breakout comedy hit Brooklyn Nine-Nine features the perfectly deadpan, out precinct Captain Ray Holt, played with expert timing by Andre Braugher. Holt initially clashes with brilliant-but-immature detective Jake Peralta (Andy Samberg) but the two gradually develop a mentoring friendship which forms the emotional backbone of the show.  Peralta even punches his childhood hero in the face, after hearing the man use homophobic slurs in reference to Holt.

3) The Dallas Buyers Club has attracted a lot of attention this awards season, not the least of which for Jared Leto's performance as Rayon, a Texas transgender woman living with AIDS.  The film focuses on Ron Woodruff, a straight man diagnosed with AIDS in the 80s, who begins smuggling unregulated medication for a "buyers club" modeled after clubs formed by other AIDS activists at the time.  Initially Rayon is simply Ron's inroad to the local gay community, but eventually becomes his partner and friend, helping Ron find his own humanity in the process.

4) ABC Family's new drama The Fosters, created by Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige (Queer as Folk) and executive produced by Jennifer Lopez, brought multi-ethnic couple Lena Adams Foster and Stef Foster to our screens as they raise their mix of foster and biological kids. The couple share many of the same struggles as other TV parents, and certainly resonated greatly with viewers as the show became a breakaway hit.  The series returns with the latter half of season one in January and has already been picked up for a second season.

5) There weren't many new LGBT characters to be found in mainstream video games this year, but one of 2013's most critically acclaimed featured a particularly interesting one.  Released for the PS3, The Last of Us is set in a post-apocalyptic world where lone plague survivors must protect themselves from the infected and each other.  One of the characters the player encounters over the course of the game is Bill, an unstable loner in the town of Lincoln with a talent for fixing things.  Through dialogue and backstory, the player learns that Bill once had a partner named Frank who he loved, but the plague drove them apart and led Frank to a bitter end.  Both helpful and contentious, Bill is as deeply flawed but wholly unique a gay character found in any storytelling medium this year.

6) Though it premiered rather quietly on PBS in the United States, the British drama Last Tango in Halifax made a big impression on those who caught it.  The show centers around a pair of elderly widow/ers who fall in love after decades spent living other lives, as well as their respective daughters and extended families.  One of those daughters is Caroline, a private school principal going through a messy separation from her philandering husband, and simultaneously discovering new feelings for a colleague named Kate.  Deftly mixing humor and pathos, one of the show's highlights is Caroline's verbal takedown of a male teacher implying his intention to blackmail her over the relationship, in which she expresses amazement that he thinks he could use a same-sex affair as leverage in 2013.

7) This summer's The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones - the film adaptation of the first in Cassandra Clare's The Mortal Instruments series - was the year's only major studio release with significant LGBT content. Alec Lightwood (Kevin Zegers) is a closeted Shadowhunter, a half-angel warrior who protects our world from demons, with a crush on his straight best friend Jace.  The film also features bisexual warlock Magnus Bane (Godfrey Gao), who is very interested in getting closer to Alec. The next film in the series, City of Ashes, is currently set for production in 2014.

8) The buzz-worthy new Netflix series Orange is the New Black features one of the most diverse casts on television, which includes one of the most exciting new transgender characters to appear in some time.  As the prison's resident hairdresser, Sophia is well-regarded by most of her fellow inmates, but faces the same challenges that many incarcerated transgender women face, including harassment and access to medical care.  What's more, the character is played by transgender actress and advocate Laverne Cox, who portrays Sophia with poignant sweetness.

9) BBC America's clone drama Orphan Black was the spring's sleeper hit with awards buzz (and a Golden Globe nomination) for Tatiana Maslany, who plays seven different clones on the series. Among them is the bisexual scientist Cosima Niehaus, who finds herself falling for a woman she knows was sent to spy on her.  Luckily, her love interest Delphine returns her feelings just in time to help her take on the bad guys. The show also features Felix Dawkins; the self-assured gay foster brother, best friend and partner in crime of lead clone Sarah Manning.

10) One of the most original young comedic voices to come along in some time, Josh Thomas began his standup career as a young teenager.  His live show Please Like Me was turned into a scripted comedy series in his home country of Australia earlier this year, on which Josh portrayed a version of himself.  American audiences got to see the show for themselves this fall, when Please Like Me premiered on Pivot TV, and were introduced to a quick-witted, insecure young man learning how challenging coming out and growing up can be.

11) There has been a scattering of new LGBT characters in comic books over the past year, with a handful coming from the big two; DC and Marvel.  A few of them even managed to make national headlines. The Uncanny X-Men got a bit more diverse when empathic shape-shifter Benjamin Deeds came out as gay, leading his teacher Emma Frost to immediately reply "I don't care." The death of Fearless Defenders' lesbian archeologist Annabelle Riggs ignited internet outrage, but readers soon learned that her story was far from over when she suddenly found herself in the Norse warrior afterlife, Valhalla. Young Avengers has always been one of the most LGBT-friendly books on the shelf thanks to gay teen couple Wiccan and Hulkling, but became even more so when new member Prodigy revealed that he was bisexual (and had a crush on Hulkling).  And over at DC, writer Gail Simone continued to prove that she's one of the strongest LGBT allies in comics when she introduced new lesbian super hero Virtue in The Movement, and revealed that Barbara Gordon's roommate Alysia in Batgirl is transgender.

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