relationship with Nicky. For Nicky, too, her past experiences and
home life becomes far more prevalent in her storyline than the fact
than the romantic relationship she has with Lorna.
In this multi-faceted context, the lesbian relationships
presented in Orange is the New Black have a different level of
authenticity than is found in more one-dimensional characters
defined primarily by their sexuality. The fact that these characters
and their relationships are presented in a larger context without
either idealization or denigration presents an opportunity to
increase awareness and combat homophobia through the series. It
was not until the 1970s that LGBTQ communities were
represented other than minor roles in television series and movies,
and even then, gays and lesbians were isolated in a primarily
heterosexual environment rather than being presented as members
of a larger homosexual community (Fejes & Petrich). Orange is the
New Black, because of the inevitable isolation of people behind
prison walls, creates a larger homosexual space for characters and
less opportunity for lesbians to be seen as “other” among many of
their peers. To put this into context, lists only nineteen
lesbian and bisexual television shows or movies that are cast with
predominantly female actors (Gonzalez). While there certainly are
other roles filled by LGBTQ actors, actresses, or characters, they
are sadly underrepresented, and their roles are written in ways to
contrast with their straight counterparts, a dangerous
representation that helps construct and reinforce what counts as
In addition to the lesbian characters in the series, Orange is
the New Black features Laverne Cox, who became the first openly
transgender performer to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy
Award. She was also the first transgender person to appear on the
cover of Time magazine. Cox plays Sophia in Orange is the New Black,
a transwoman sent to prison for credit card fraud. Sophia is best
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