by Judy Bokao
When I was young, I loved superheroes. They seemed to always show up at the right time and help people out of dire situations. As I grew up and understood my sexuality better, I wanted a hero I could also relate to. Watching these LGBTQ+ characters changed my views on what it meant to be a proud LGBTQ+ individual, ready to live life for the good of others and be the hero of my own story.
Tyler Kennedy aka T.K from 9–1–1 Lone Star
Tyler is an openly gay firefighter and paramedic in the FOX drama series 9–1–1 Lone Star.He struggled with prescription drug use and after rehab and therapy, he relocated with his dad to Texas. He faced many challenges including being shot and processing his dad’s cancer, but he still manages to keep a clear head and avoid relapsing. Tyler’s relationship with his father opened my eyes to what a parent-child relationship can be like if our parents accepted us for who we are. I am currently going through a difficult time with my family because of my sexuality and I can’t help but wish they could try to understand me like Tyler’s father.
Maya Bishop from Station 19
Maya is a fierce firefighter in the ABC drama series Station 19. She grew up with an abusive father who pushed her to be an Olympian, giving her an unhealthy and competitive nature that made it difficult for her to speak up about her emotions. The fictional character is also married to Carina Delucca from ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy and it was inspiring to see her emotional growth in the relationship. While some might see Maya as cold, I always saw her as caring. She made me realize hurt people hurt people and we can only begin to heal from our childhood trauma if we acknowledge them first.
Henrietta Wilson from FOX’s 9–1–1
Henrietta Wilson is a Black, openly gay firefighter and paramedic in the Los Angeles Fire Department. Henrietta has been through a lot, from her father abandoning her when she was 9 to when she was accidentally shot when she was 16. She didn’t have an easy life but her past shaped her into the exceptional woman she is today. She and her wife are amazing parents to their son, who they fought tirelessly to get custody of. After failed IVF treatment, they decided to be temporary foster parents. What I admire most about Henrietta is that she has so much depth. We can understand her journey as a Black, LGBTQ+ woman who goes against all odds to be a firefighter. I love that she is family-oriented and stands in her beliefs. I wish I had her courage.
Officer III Christina Alonso from S.W.A.T
This bad-ass S.W.A.T character is the only female officer in Sergeant Harrelson and serves as the sniper. Her mother died from an accident when she was 10 and she survived a kidnapping when she was 15. She identifies as bisexual and was even in a polyamorous relationship but unfortunately it ended badly. I love her character for being fearless, resilient, and strong. She is a woman of action. She has so many facets to her, but her ability to connect with victims is something I truly admire in her. Even though her job shows her the dark side of humanity, she still manages to be compassionate.
Travis Montgomery from Station 19
Travis’ journey on the ABC drama series Station 19 always inspired me. Travis came out at a young age and his father was against it. He spent most of his teenage life being bullied by his dad and he is currently working through the anger that gave him. He married a fellow firefighter, but his partner’s unfortunate and sudden death left his world shattered. He somehow still managed to show up everyday and run into fires, risking his life to save others. Apart from his perfect abs, what I love about Travis is his sense of humor and his unconditional love for his squad. We all need a good laugh to get through the day. People like Travis are like fine oil- they keep the machine moving. We can’t afford to take life too seriously.
Sheryll Barnes from FBI: Most Wanted
Barnes is a Black FBI Special Agent who is also the second in command in the Fugitive Task Force in the police procedural, FBI: Most Wanted. As an openly gay wife and mother, she finds herself trying to balance between her job and being there for her family. We also see the dilemma she has being a Black cop in the current climate and what her driving force is. While she is an intense and commanding character, I like seeing her softer side when she is with her family and just for a moment when she is able to be vulnerable. It makes me realize that family can be a sanctuary where we can forget the darkness in the world and feel safe.
In the end, I realize that heroes come in all different forms and they may not necessarily wear capes or have superpowers. These characters inspire me to be a better human and to always find a way to work through the challenges in life.
About the Author:
Judy Bokao is 20 years old and was born in Ethiopia but relocated to Nairobi two years ago. She is passionate about everyone having equal rights and is also big on conservation and speaking up for our planet. Judy loves reading and photography and is just a free-spirited young lady trying to grow into a woman her mom can be proud of.