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Celebrate Pride With TV's Ten Best Gay-Themed Episodes Ever

A pride-themed playlist of ten episodes that are gay faves for a reason.
  • Of course The Golden Girls made our list. (Photo: NBC)
    Of course The Golden Girls made our list. (Photo: NBC)

    This weekend in New York City and all over the world, pride celebrations will commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. This will take the form of parades, concerts, and parties, and rightly so. And while all  of that sounds fun, imagine how much less you'd sweat, how many fewer drinks you'd get spilled on you, and how many fewer crowds you'd have to elbow your way through at your own personal Pride party at home on your counch? And so, for those so inclined, here's a Pride-themed playlist of ten episodes that are gay faves for good reason.

    10. "Once More with Feeling" from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    Amber Benson and Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    Arguably the best musical episode of any TV show, "Once More With Feeling" plays out like a legit musical where everyone sings out all their problems. For Buffy, the episode is pivotal because it moves forward all of the pieces for that season. For Pride, it features two lesbian witches, Willow and Tara, singing to each other about being in love, and later about their inevitable breakup. Buffy and Spike kiss, Xander reveals he's reluctant to marry Anya, and Tara finds out Willow used a spell to make her forget their fight. It's an iconic episode of a gay-beloved show.

    Gayest moment: When our resident lesbian witches, Willow and Tara, literally end their song and dance number with Willow going down on Tara. You go, girl.

    9."Chapter II" from Dear White People

    DeRon Horton as Lionel Higgins in Dear White People. (Photo: Adam Rose/Netflix)

    Lionel Higgins (DeRon Horton) is a complex, nuanced gay character deserving of praise. He's relatable and nerdy — and you want him to succeed. With that in mind, his first big episode in Dear White People is a must. Lionel crushes on his "Superman type" straight roommate, doesn't know where he fits in the gay community, and is constantly anxious. We stan a gay icon who is actually gay!

    Gayest moment: Lionel jerking off while listening to his straight roommate have sex.

    8. "Moveable Feast" from Will & Grace

    Eric McCormack, Blythe Danner, Debra Messing, Debbie Reynolds, Sean Hayes, Beau Bridges and Megan Mullally in Will & Grace

    One of the most iconic Will & Grace episodes, the hour-long "Moveable Feast" Thanksgiving episode is a perfect showcase for the show's formidable talent. It's an episode that's aged fairly well, even if the idea of Will, Jack, Grace, and Karen all being able to make it to their various NYC destinations within one day borders on science fiction.

    Gayest moment: The instantly-dated opening with the whole gang calling each other and putting each other hold — while Jack's friend is left hanging on hold doing his makeup only to reveal he's the iconic Miss Coco Peru.

    7. "San Junipero" from Black Mirror

    MacKenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Black Mirror (Netflix)

    An insanely complicated, beautiful episode of TV. If you watch one episode of Black Mirror, make it this one. It's queer in a way we don't often see, especially in genre TV, and features fantastic performances from Mackenzie Davis and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as lovers who keep finding each other in an '80s-inflected afterlife. There's a reason this episode won two Emmys.

    Gayest moment: An ending that makes you cry happy tears — something uncommon in queer TV, but also on freakin' Black Mirror, which may well be TV's bleakest show ever.

    6. "Sister of the Bride" from The Golden Girls

    Rue McClanahan, Monte Markham and Michael Ayr in The Golden Girls (Hulu)

    The Fantastic Four of this show were always wonderfully complex characters. So having Blanche, the most openly sexual of the bunch, be the one to oppose her brother's upcoming commitment ceremony to his partner rang true. Sometimes a family member will seem cool and progressive on the surface but then suddenly, oops, you find out they voted for Trump. Happily, the episode ends with Blanche coming around and embracing her new brother-in-law.

    Gayest moment: Watching Sophia, the matriarch of the bunch, defiantly defend Blanche's brother Clayton,is a thing of beauty.

    5. "Klaus and Greta" from 30 Rock

    Jeffery Self and Tina Fey in 30 Rock

    Liz Lemon accidentally outing her gay cousin Randy (guest star Jeffery Self) is such a classic Liz Lemon thing to do. This episode shows what a well-meaning but terrible ally Liz is. Which completely tracks with everything we know about her. It also features James Franco not playing a gay character.

    Gayest moment: When Liz asks Randy if something is going to be fierce, he immediately replies, "It would be if it was 2006."

    4. "Pawnee Zoo" from Parks & Recreation

    "It's Flipper & Eve, not Flipper & Steve" Amy Poehler in Park and Recreation (NBC)

    The beloved Leslie Knope marries two penguins at the Pawnee Zoo, who both turn out to be male. The episode shows the perils of 'taking a side,' but Leslie eventually takes a stand, saving the penguins and even partying at local Pawnee gay bar, The Bulge.

    Gayest moment: Leslie drunkenly singing Lady Gaga's "Poker Face."

    3. "Homer's Phobia" from The Simpsons

    John Waters voiced Homer's new friend John in The Simpson (FOX)

    Gay icon John Waters voicing a fun, cool gay character on a cartoon that nearly every person watched in the '90s was a big deal back then. The episode is still relevant — even if Homer comes off like even more of a dick (but … this is a character who often chokes his son, so like...). The show treats its new gay character with respect — something the closeted Mr. Smithers never really got.

    Gayest moment: John (yes the gay character voiced by John Waters was named John) saving Homer and Bart by using a toy robot Santa.

    2. "The Wedding (Part 1 & 2)" from Modern Family

    Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family (ABC)

    These two episodes show why this show has had such staying power (even if all the couples seem to hate each other). Cam and Mitch have their wedding happening at the same time as the California wildfires — and lose their venue. Jay feels slightly uncomfortable with Mitch's wedding but gets a redemption arc. It's both hilarious and heartwarming.

    Gayest moment: Jay and Gloria walking Mitch down the aisle.

    1. "Quinces" from One Day at a Time

    Rita Moreno, Stephen Tobolowsky, Marcel Ruiz, Isabella Gomez,  Todd Grinnell and Justina Machado in One Day at a Time (Netflix)

    Elena was against having a quinceañera all season, but she finally relents — so long as she can wear a white suit. A few episodes prior, while watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Elena came out to her family. Her father, who was barely present for most of her life, suddenly comes back and traditionally he's the one who is supposed to have the first dance with her at her quinces. But when he sees her in her pantsuit, he freaks and runs away. In the episode's most heartwarming moment, the rest of Elena's family (Schnieder, too) comes to dance with her instead.

    Gayest moment: If the family all dancing together, to show how much they love Elena doesn't make you cry…well, then you're a homophobe yourself. Happy Pride!

    Ian Carlos Crawford is a freelance writer, host of the podcast Slayerfest 98, and someone with way too many feelings. Follow him on Twitter at @ianxcarlos.

    TOPICS: LGBTQ, 30 Rock, Black Mirror, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dear White People, The Golden Girls, Modern Family, One Day at a Time (2017 series), Parks and Recreation, The Simpsons, Will & Grace