From Carol and Susan to Bette and Tina these ceremonies brought queer love to our living rooms
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY NETFLIX
One thing about me, there are only a few things I love more than a wedding. And when it comes to ceremonies that celebrate queer love, my appreciation of weddings only grows stronger. We’re halfway through wedding season at the moment, so what better time to take a trip down memory lane and acknowledge some of the best onscreen lesbian and sapphic weddings in TV queerstory.
Carol and Susan from Friends (1996)
While LGBTQIA representation on the hit TV show, Friends, was lacklustre and often problematic, in 1996 the series made history by portraying the first lesbian wedding on American television. Despite the fact that Carol and Susan didn’t share a kiss on camera at their own wedding, it was ahead of its time. So much so that two network affiliates refused to air the episode. This was a defining moment for lesbian representation, with 31.6 million people tuning in, people all around the world got to see two women commit to a life together.
Callie and Arizona from Grey’s Anatomy (2011)
The White Wedding episode also made history, and is considered to be the first lesbian wedding in a network drama between two long-running characters. Callie and Arizona’s big day was far from smooth sailing. Callie spends the episode dealing with her mother telling her that they are “playing dress-up” and that the marriage isn’t legal. Following the minister’s cancellation, Callie also decides to call the wedding off. But thanks to the rallying of their friends and loved ones, the wedding is back on and it’s a beautiful and moving day.
Stef and Lena from The Fosters (2013)
There was not a dry eye in sight as viewers tuned in to watch this monumental ceremony. It was the first lesbian wedding to air on TV after the Supreme Court overturned the Defence of Marriage Act in 2012 and the episode earned the second-highest viewership of the series. It was powerful to see an interracial long-term lesbian couple legally cement and celebrate their 10 year relationship.
Brittany and Santana from Glee (2015)
What’s better than one gay wedding? A double gay wedding. In this extra special episode, Brittany and Santana and Kurt and Blaine have a joint ceremony. This moment added commentary on how unjust the world is, as the couples had to travel to Indiana to wed as they couldn’t do so in Ohio. Oh, and as if this episode wasn’t queer AF already, audiences got to see Jennifer Coolidge, Gloria Estefan and Gina Gershon perform I’m So Excited.
Ruby and Sapphire from Steven Universe (2018)
This show about all-female aliens from another planet who are called the Crystal Gems was more than “just” a cartoon. Fan-favourite gem, Garnet, who happened to be a fusion of two gems, Ruby and Sapphire, made queerstory when they had a delightful lesbian wedding. It’s still rare to get unapologetic LGBTQIA representation in children’s TV shows, so this was a beautiful representation of queer love.
Nomi and Amanita from Sense8 (2018)
This ceremony was a pivotal moment for both sapphic and trans representation as it was the first lesbian TV wedding with a trans bride. It was also oozing with queerness, and not only just because Nomi shared a consciousness with other pansexuals who were in attendance. A highlight of this wedding, was how it showed the couple celebrating on their terms, from the non-traditional wedding garments and beyond. Oh, and this finale gave audiences a wedding night orgy which was spliced with flashbacks from the whole series. Talk about a climactic ending.
Piper and Alex from Orange Is The New Black (2018)
Ten years ago, the first season of Netflix’s groundbreaking show, Orange Is The New Black (OITNB), premiered and changed onscreen LGBTQIA representation forever. In 2018, one of the gayest moments of the series took place when Piper Chapman and Alex Vause got “prison married”. Conducted by Nicky, and hastily put together the day before Piper’s unexpected sudden release, this is another glorious example of two loved up queers creating their own traditions.
Anne and Ann from Gentleman Jack (2019)
While Anne Lister and Ann Walker’s secret wedding aired on BBC’s Gentleman Jack during 2019, their real life wedding took place on 30 March 1834 and is considered to be the first gay wedding in Great Britain. In fact, a blue plaque cementing its historical significance was placed at Holy Trinity church in York where the two Ann(e)s married. Their discreet and intimate wedding was such a moving moment in the show, and a powerful reminder that we have always been here and loving each other on our own terms.
Maze and Eve from Lucifer (2021)
Based on characters created for DC Vertigo, this supernatural crime series portrayed many sexually fluid characters throughout its run time. And Lucifer’s demon bestie, Mazikeen (Maze) was my all-time favourite. And in the series’ sixth and final season, we got to see Maze exchange vows with the love of her life, and the world’s first woman, Eve. And while for a moment it looked like these two queer women would be spending an eternity torturing damned souls in hell (albeit as a sapphic power couple) I was relieved that they instead decided to remain together on Earth as kickass bounty hunters.
Waverly and Nicole from Wynonna Earp (2021)
The heart of this dark fantasy drama has always been the titular character’s sister, Waverly, who underwent a bisexual awakening when she fell for Nicole Haught. #WayHaught has a devoted fanbase of people shipping them and they quickly established themselves as couple goals. The WayHaught wedding closed out the series, and it was beautiful to see them surrounded by both blood and chosen family – and bittersweet to see the empty chairs of those who couldn’t be with them. All in all, it was a very moving conclusion to their journey.
Bette and Tina from The L Word: Generation Q (2022)
While The L Word spin-off, Generation Q, was cancelled after the season three finale, it certainly ended with a bang. Fan favourites Bette and Tina, aka #Tibette, managed to pull off a dream wedding in just one week. Over the franchise’s history, there have been a string of unrealised engagements: Tanya and Dana’s wedding was cancelled after both brides fell for other women, Shane left Carmen at the altar and in Gen Q, Finley interrupted Sophie and Dani’s wedding with a declaration of love.
But in, what turned out to be, the final season of Gen Q, Tibette exchanged glorious vows in front of all their loved ones (and Ilene Chaiken). It’s hardly been plain sailing for the power couple. They’d had years of on-again off-again dating, one marriage and a divorce under their belts. But this second chance romance between one of TV’s most popular lesbian couples was such a glorious moment for sapphics around the world.
There have (so far) been no onscreen lesbian or sapphic weddings in mainstream TV so far this year. But I will be keeping my fingers crossed for an abundance of queer weddings in the near future.
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