Pride Month: The greatest LGBTQ+ characters in British soap (2023)

We’re celebrating Pride Month, a time for educating on Pride history and celebrating our gay community.

Over the years, soaps have introduced many incredible characters that are part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Here are a few of our favourite LGBTQ+ characters in soaps.

The greatest LGBTQ+ characters in soaps

Callum Highway – EastEnders

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In 2019, Callum was due to marry Whitney Dean. However he fell for Ben Mitchell and it was revealed Callum had previously been in love with his army friend, Chris, who died.

He admitted to Whitney he cheated on her with Ben and although she planned to go through with the wedding, she ended up leaving him at the altar.

Later he admitted to her that he was gay and began a relationship with Ben.

Callum was afraid to come out, fearing what his brother Stuart and dad Jonno would say.

Whilst Stuart eventually accepted his brother’s sexuality, Jonno did not.

Callum’s coming out story has showed that whilst his dad may not accept who he is, he hasn’t let that stop him from finding happiness.

Liv Flaherty – Emmerdale

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Liv Flaherty explained to Belle Dingle back in 2017 that she didn’t like anyone at all.

The following year she elaborated on her feelings to her pal Gabby, explaining she’s asexual.

Liv is the first asexual character on a soap and has helped viewers to understand what asexuality is.

While there is often the common misconception that all asexual people don’t want to be in a relationship, Liv has shown that those who are asexual can still have feelings for someone and still want a relationship.

Sophie Webster – Coronation Street

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Read more: Coronation Street spoilers: Next week revealed in all-new pictures

As a teenager, Sophie began practising Christianity.

In 2009, Sophie began dating Ben Richardson. However she broke up with him after discovering he tried it on with Ryan Connor’s mum Michelle.

She soon began to realise she was gay and had feelings for her best friend Sian Powers.

Sophie and Sian ended up splitting up. Over the years Sophie has dated Maddie Heath, Jenna Kamara Paula Martin and had a brief fling with Kate Connor.

After she came out, Sophie thought God hated her and she went onto the church roof drunk. The pastor told Sophie that God loved her for who she is, however she ended up falling from the room.

Sophie’s story showed how sexuality can be a big deal in religion. However she was accepted for who she is and wasn’t expected to be something she isn’t to please others.

Bernadette Taylor – EastEnders

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Bernie Taylor made her first appearance on the soap in 2017. She soon became friends with Tiffany Butcher and it started to become clear that Bernie saw Tiff as more than a friend.

On New Year’s Eve 2018, Bernie came out as a lesbian to her mum Karen, who was very supportive.

In 2019, EastEnders aired a Pride episode and at first Bernie was shy and unsure of it all. However Tina Carter soon stepped in.

While some fear telling their family about their sexuality, the Taylor family proved that some families are immediately accepting.

Aaron Dingle – Emmerdale

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Aaron Dingle first appeared in the show from 2003 until 2006 before returning in 2008.

When Aaron was a teenager, he tried to kiss his best friend Adam Barton after they were nearly involved in a collision.

Later Paddy discovered Aaron visited a gay bar and when he asked him about his sexuality, Aaron attacked him.

Aaron tried to reject his sexuality but Paddy told him he can’t deny who he is.

Later Aaron tried to take his own life by inhaling car fumes, but was stopped by Cain and Adam.

In court Aaron admitted he was gay.

Aaron’s story showed self-rejection. However the Aaron we see on-screen now is very different to the Aaron we saw 12 years ago.

Now Aaron has accepted who he is.

Sally St Claire – Hollyoaks

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Hollyoaks character Sally St. Claire first appeared in 2015.

She was born Iain Naismith and was previously engaged to Myra McQueen before transitioning into a woman in 1990.

Sally is played by actress Annie Wallace. She is the first transgender person to portray a regular transgender character in British Soap Opera history.

Another fun fact about Annie is that she worked as a research assistant on Coronation Street when they brought in the show’s first transgender character Hayley Cropper.

Beth Jordache – Brookside

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Brookside character Beth Jordache was played by actress Anna Friel.

In 1994, Beth and her friend Margaret Clemence shared the first pre-watershed same-sex kiss.

The kiss made TV history and was later screened to a TV audience of billions when a clip of it was used in the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Anna has gone on to become a highly successful actress starring in many films and TV shows since her departure from Brookside.

Christian Clarke – EastEnders

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EastEnders character Christian was in the soap on and off from 2008 until 2016.

He first appeared in 2008 and at the time actor, John Partridge, told Daily Star: “It’s about time EastEnders had a gay character in the show.

“It’s been a while and things have moved on a lot. Christian, like me, is an openly proud gay man and he is certainly going to ruffle a few feathers when he arrives.”

One of the character’s biggest storylines was his relationship with Syed Masood

The two began arguing over Christian’s sexuality, however Syed and Christian ended up kissing and sleeping together.

On the day of Syed and Amira’s wedding, which was a huge episode, Syed admitted to Christian that he is gay.

Syed’s mother Zainab confronted Christian and he told him everything, however she didn’t believe him.

Eventually Christian and Syed did end up together.

He later gave advice to Ben Mitchell when he confided in him that he is gay.

Christian was a much-loved character in EastEnders and since his 2012 exit has made a few returns.

Charity Dingle – Emmerdale

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Read more: Emmerdale spoilers: Next week revealed in all-new pictures

Over the years Charity Dingle has had relationships with both men and women.

Charity had an affair with Zoe Tate whilst she was with Zoe’s brother Chris.

In 2017 she began a relationship with Vanessa Woodfield and the fandom ‘Vanity’ was born.

Vanity fans were left devastated when the couple split last year after Charity cheated with Mackenzie Boyd.

However we still hold out hope that they will reunite when Vanessa returns.

Sean Tully – Coronation Street

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Corrie legend Sean Tully made his first appearance in 2003. He is played by actor Antony Cotton.

Antony, like his character Sean, is openly gay and when Sean first appeared he was out and proud.

Over the years Sean has had a few lovers. In 2008 he became a father after spending a drunken night with his friend, Violet.

It has been a while since viewers have seen a love interest for Sean, but we hope in the future to see him settle down with someone.

Ben Mitchell – EastEnders

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Ben is the son of Kathy Beale and Phil Mitchell.

In 2011, Ben came out as gay, however at first Phil didn’t accept this. However he ended up becoming a father after sleeping with Lola and getting her pregnant.

As Ben grew older, he got into a relationship with childhood friend Abi Branning. But things turned sour when he discovered she faked having a miscarriage.

Ben later met Paul Coker and the two started a relationship.

However when the two men went on a night out, they were both brutally beaten up in a homophobic attack.

Sadly Paul died from his injuries leaving Ben heartbroken.

Two years ago, Ben returned to Walford with Lola and his daughter Lexi. Last month he got married to Callum Highway.

Ben’s story proved that whilst his dad may not of accepted his sexuality at first, he did eventually come around and that other around him were there to give him support.

Ripley Lennox – Hollyoaks

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The character Ripley Lennox is the first non-binary character to appear in a soap.

They first appeared in July 2020 as a new market stall owner at the Cunningham’s Grand Bizarre.

Ripley is played by actor Ki Griffin, who also identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.

Ki has made soap history.

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Matty Barton – Emmerdale

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In 2009, Hannah Barton arrived in Emmerdale with mum Moira, dad John, brother Adam and sister Holly.

In 2012, she decided to leave the Dales and moved to London.

Six years later Matty broke int0 Butler’s Farm house and was caught by Cain. When Moira arrived she was shocked to realise that Hannah is now a man, Matty.

Matty revealed he was now living as a man. Since his return, Matty has had top surgery and is currently on the waiting list for his lower surgery.

In real life, Ash Palmisciano, who plays Matty, is transgender and has openly talked about his transition.

Ash is he first transgender actor to play a transgender character in Emmerdale.

Rana Habeeb – Coronation Street

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Rana Habeeb first appeared in Corrie in 2016 as Alya Nazir’s friend from university.

She later began dating Alya’s brother Zeedan.

However she soon began to develop feelings for Kate Connor and became jealous of Kate’s girlfriend Imogen.

Despite her feelings for Kate, she married Zeedan and soon she and Kate began a full blown affair.

Eventually she told Zeedan about her affair and he told her parents.

Her parents tried to pay Zeedan to stay with Rana and Rana agreed at first but soon decided she needed to be with Kate.

After going official with Kate, her parents tried to kidnap her but Kate was able to help her.

The two were due to get married in March 2019 but Rana died on her wedding day in the Underworld factory roof collapse.

Rana’s story was a sad one in the fact that she was never truly accepted by her parents. However she chose to be happy instead of living how others wanted her to.

Vanessa Woodfield – Emmerdale

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Vanessa Woodfield first appeared in 2012 and is openly bisexual.

After she arrived she had an affair with her friend Rhona, which explored her being bisexual.

Vanessa was engaged to Charity Dingle, who she began dating in 2017, but they split after Vanessa discovered she had cheated.

The character was the first main character, who is bisexual, on the soap and has relationships with both men and women.

Vanessa is played by actress Michelle Hardwick, who is openly gay.

Michelle is married to Emmerdale producer Kate Brooks and the couple welcomed their first son Teddy in October 2020.

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