Law and Order’s Early Queer Representation

The OG Law & Order series could hardly show up on on one’s radar for having some mention or “representation” of the LGBTQ+ community, but surprisingly, the early seasons have some gay/lesbian characters, as victims, witnesses, or the suspect/perpetrator. One episode that really struck me was “Manhood”, Season 3 Episode 21. The plot is pretty clear cut; gay cop dies because his other fellow officers didn’t provide him essential backup. Though the episode specifically is fictional, it sure does make you wonder how gay cops in the 20th century fared. My Policeman (2021 movie), anyone?

That sad episode is hardly the only episode in Law and Order to have significant or minor representation/references to LGBTQ characters. The occasional lesbian, gay bar, drag queens or queer prostitute will show on screen, sometimes with definitely not politically correct words, but nevertheless not letting that affect their work. The same could be said for many contemporary late 20th century tv shows, including ER (medical drama that predates Grey’s Anatomy) and Friends.