The inclusion of gay characters in soaps is a groundbreaking achievement and has the power to change perceptions of LGBTQ+ people. Soaps reach large, diverse audiences on a daily basis and can therefore have a huge impact on society. The first openly gay character to appear on a soap opera was Gordon Collins on Brookside in 1982, and he became a regular character after that.
The character of Oliver Fish on Emmerdale is another iconic representation of the gay community and was portrayed by John Parker for a number of years from 2010 until 2017. He was a crusty, obnoxious, rude, condescending jerk who had us all in stitches at his wisecracks, but he was also an extremely noble and loving person.
Brendan Brady on EastEnders was portrayed by Emmett J. Scanlan from 2010 to 2013. Brendan was closeted and began an affair with Ste Hay (Kieron Richardson). However, Ste wasn’t comfortable with his sexuality and abused him. This marked the first time homosexual domestic abuse had been featured in a soap. After he learned to accept his sexuality, Ste and Brendan got back together for a healthier relationship with no abuse.
Christian Clarke on Hollyoaks was portrayed by John Partridge between 2008 and 2012. The character was a gay man who aided the coming out of other characters such as Callum Highway and Steven Beale.
Aidan O’Callaghan, who plays Rafe on The Bold and the Beautiful, is another gay actor to have played a major role in a soap. His character was the main male lead on the show, and he had a major storyline in 2021 when he was seduced by the evil Adam Newman (Donald Faison) to distract him from his sex crimes.