In an explosive revision of the clichés of yesteryear, Latino telenovelas are revolutionizing the television space.

Once known for their archetypal characters and heteropatriarchal narratives, telenovelas are finally making room for LGBTQ+ storylines.

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Shows like “Amar a Muerte,” “El Señor de los Cielos,” “Amores Verdaderos,” “Mi Marido Tiene Más Familia” and “La Suerte de Loli” are now pioneering storylines. These telenovelas push boundaries, redefine norms, and are finally shedding light on LGBTQ+ relationships.

In “El Señor de los Cielos,” for example, audiences gawked as a fictionalized version of the Mexican president shared a passionate kiss with another man.

The performance, brought to life by actors Jesús Moré and Alan Slim, was a dynamite moment that broke social norms. The scene sparked conversations and catapulted LGBTQ+ representation in Latino media to the forefront.

Hot on its heels, “Papá a toda madre” presented a refreshing storyline with a married gay couple. This lighthearted depiction of same-sex relationships offered viewers a new perspective on love and companionship.

Similarly, in 2013 “Amores Verdaderos” made television history. The show presented a passionate love story between Jean Marie and Stéfano, culminating in the telenovela’s first gay wedding. Their passionate love story overcame numerous obstacles amid feuding families, creating a Romeo and Juliet-like narrative for the modern era.

Kisses that made history

Meanwhile, “Las Aparicio” marked a turning point in telenovela history in 2017 with the first on-screen lesbian kiss. 

The incredible moment, shared by actresses Eréndira Ibarra and Liz Gallardo, was not a mere show of affection. It was a monumental step towards the mainstream visibility of lesbian relationships.

For their part, Macarena Achaga and Bárbara Torres made a huge impact with the love story between their characters in the 2018 telenovela “Amar a Muerte.” Valentina and Juliana fell in love with each other, inspiring a powerful fandom on social media. The “Juliantinas” are still active and have not stopped asking for a spin-off or a movie about the couple.

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That same year, Emilio Osorio and Joaquín Bondoni spurred a similar phenomenon with their teenage characters in “Mi Marido Tiene Más Familia.” In fact, the two actors went on to star in their own telenovela, “El Amor Nunca Se Equivoca,” the first Mexican production centered on a gay love story.

The “Aristemos,” as their fans called them after their characters Aristoteles and Temo (short for Cuauhtémoc), became number one in ratings in Mexico and the U.S.

The impact of telenovelas

Finally, every Latino knows that telenovelas are a pillar of culture. Their role goes beyond entertainment; they serve as an educational catalyst and a showcase for social dynamics.

According to a study by the Public Religion Research Institute, a staggering 53% of Hispanics get information about sexual relationships from the media. The study underscores the influential role of telenovelas in the social perception of love and relationships.

Consequently, the increase in LGBTQ+ representation on screen has had an effect on acceptance rates among Latino audiences, which have experienced an uptick.

Similarly, a 2020 Pew Research Center poll showed that 63% of Latinos supported same-sex marriage, a significant jump from 45% in 2006.

Analysts credit the shift from the stereotypical depictions of “Yo soy Betty, La Fea” to complex, authentic narratives such as the couples drama of “La Suerte de Loli,” where the tension between a gay couple centered on the decision of whether and how to have children.

Latinos tell LGBTQ stories in English, too

The diversity of characters in series like “Vida,” “Gentefied” and “With Love” underscores the tectonic change in Latino media. These series, with their layered LGBTQ+ characters and narratives, are breaking down stereotypes and ushering in a new era of acceptance.

“Vida” offers a poignant exploration of the struggles and victories of the LGBTQ+ community. “Gentefied” beautifully encapsulates the intersection of Latinx and LGBTQ+ identities. And “With Love” follows the nuanced love life of a transgender Latina and a long-distance same-sex relationship.

The world of television is not just about shows. It’s about powerful narratives that shape societal attitudes. With their commitment to promoting acceptance, understanding, and diversity, they continue to spark a revolution of love and tolerance.