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Entertainment Weekly Looks Back on Important LGBTQ+ Characters in Soaps

Reese Williams, Bianca Montgomery, All My Children

In celebration of Pride Month, Entertainment Weekly is taking a look back at how LGBTQ+ representation has evolved. Starting off in 1983, All My Children broadcast the first gay storyline in a daytime drama.

In Pine Valley, Devon McFadden (Tricia Pursley) fell for her psychiatrist, Dr. Lynn Carson (Donna Pescow). The romance never progressed beyond one-sided feelings, however. AMC later aired the first same-sex wedding in daytime TV, which came between legacy character Bianca Montgomery (Eden Riegel) and Reese Williams (Tamara Braun). The show worked with GLAAD on scripts.

When One Live to Live planned to introduce a gay male character to the canvas in 1992, head writer Michael Malone wanted him to be Joey Buchanan. The network was reportedly worried about "agitating fans," so they brought on Ryan Phillippe as teen Billy Douglas. 

Ex-OLTL scribe Jean Passanante told EW:

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They didn't want the child of the main family to be gay. It's kind of horrible to think about now, but I really think their attitude was like, 'Well, we don't want to waste Joey.'

After featuring the first same-sex male wedding in daytime, Days of Our Lives hired soap veteran Greg Rikaart as schemer Leo Stark. Rikaart enjoyed playing the role, saying:

For a long time, gay characters would have to be more palatable for the audience. Make them sort of run of the mill and center of the road kind of thing. My character was a full-on bitch diva, so I got blowback from fans who were like, 'As a gay man, you should be ashamed to play such an arch depiction of a bad guy.' And I was like, 'Well, I think it's more progressive to say 'This is our gay character and he doesn't just have to say and do nice things.'

As fan favorite Maya Avant Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful, Karla Mosley played the genre's first full-time trans character. General Hospital currently has a talented trans actress on its cast, Cassandra James (Terry), and EP Frank Valentini told EW about her next storyline. Of Terry, who will next be seen on June 24, he said:

She'll be fighting for an important position at the hospital. I think it's important to portray members of the LGBTQ community in a way where they're just like everybody else. They want jobs, they want to get promoted. They want to fall in love. They have problems, they get sick, they have victories and defeats just like everybody else.