PHOTOS: 16 LGBT television moments that matter

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Friday, October 21, 2016
  • Noah Galvin made a splash and brought a world of color to the screen as a teen coming out of the closet in ABC's "The Real O'Neals." Fingers crossed for a boyfriend in Season 2...
  • Alexandra Billings became the first transgender woman to portray a transgender character on the 2005 made for TV movie "Romy & Michele: In the Beginning."
  • In 2012, President Barack Obama told Good Morning America's Robin Roberts that he supported marriage equality for LGBT Americans. Three years later, it became law.
  • In 2009, "All My Children" character Bianca Montgomery (portrayed by Eden Riegel) was wed to Reese in daytime television's first same-sex nuptials.
  • In 1997, Ellen Degeneres became the first openly lesbian woman to portray an openly lesbian character on ABC's "Ellen."
  • In 2015, "The Fosters" on Freeform made history with the youngest gay kiss on television. The liplock between Jude (portrayed by Hayden Byerly, center) and Connor made shockwaves.
  • In 2011, Chaz Bono stood out as a role model for transgender people on "Dancing with the Stars."
  • Robin Roberts became one of the first openly gay news anchors when she recognized her longtime girlfriend in 2013. Roberts says she helped in her battle with a rare blood disorder.
  • In 2014, "Good Luck Charlie" made the bold step of introducing the first lesbian moms on a Disney Channel show.
  • Billy Crystal became one of the first gay characters ever portrayed on ABC's "Soap" in 1977.
  • On "My So-Called Life," Wilson Cruz became the first to portray an openly gay teenager on television in 1994.
  • FILE - Caitlyn Jenner's 2015 television special with ABC's Diane Sawyer is one of the most memorable LGBT moments in history.
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Noah Galvin made a splash and brought a world of color to the screen as a teen coming out of the closet in ABC's "The Real O'Neals." Fingers crossed for a boyfriend in Season 2...
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Marriage equality and the fight to secure LGBT rights wouldn't be possible without the bravery of trailblazers who helped to light the way.

Over the last 40 years, nothing has played a more pivotal role in moving these issues forward like frank and honest portrayals of LGBT people on television.

Here is a look back at some of the most memorable moments and firsts for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people on TV.

VIDEO: Martha Plimpton, Noah Galvin talk 'The Real O'Neals'

16 LGBT TV moments that matter

That Certain Summer (ABC Movie of the Week, 1972)

The Lamont Johnson film was the first TV movie to give a serious and sympathetic focus on the life of gay people. In the film, a divorced contractor must deal with coming out to his 14-year-old son with mixed results.

Hot'l Baltimore (1975)

The American sitcom, based on Lanford Wilson's off-Broadway play of the same name, ran on ABC for one season, and featured the first gay couple on national television.

Soap (1977)

Comedian Billy Crystal is credited as one of the first gay characters to consider a sex change operation after his portrayal as Jodie Dallas in "Soap," an ABC sitcom.

Thirtysomething (1989)

In the episode "Strangers," Russell Weller (portrayed by David Marshall Grant) and Peter Montefiore (Peter Frechette) lit up screens as one of the first gay couples shown in bed together. The episode stirred conversation from conservative groups, in addition to LGBT groups concerned about how the episode reflected on the HIV/AIDS crisis.

My So-Called Life (1994)

The teen-angst drama, which aired for one season on ABC, featured Wilson Cruz, who portrayed the first openly gay teenage character on American network television.

Ellen (1997)

Before comic Ellen DeGeneres was dancing her way into the hearts of American households on her talk show, she was the boisterous and funny woman who came out as America's first openly lesbian character on television in 1997.

Romy and Michele: In the Beginning (TV Movie, 2005)

The movie was a terrible train wreck of a prequel to the hilarious "Romy and Michele's High School Reunion." Katherine Heigl was in it, but the real star was Alexandra Billings, who became the first transgender actor to play a transgender character on TV.

All My Children (2009)

The ABC soap opera became the first to feature a same-sex marriage on daytime television when Bianca Montgomery wed Reese Williams.

Dancing with the Stars (2011)

Chaz Bono, transgender rights activist and son of Cher, hit the dance floor on "Dancing with the Stars," opposite professional ballroom dancer Lacey Schwimmer.

Barack Obama comes out as an ally (2012)

The President of the United States spoke exclusively with "Good Morning America" anchor Robin Roberts about his decision to openly support same-sex marriage. Three years later, it became the law of the land.

Good Luck Charlie (2014)

Who would have thought a Disney Channel show could be so forward thinking? The family comedy introduced a lesbian couple in a 2014 episode, and they didn't flinch from doing it.

The Cait Jenner interview (2015)

Diane Sawyer's special with Caitlyn Jenner was one of the most watched programs in 2015. Jenner exposed her most vulnerable moments from life as Bruce Jenner, and the decision to transition into a transgender woman.

The Fosters (2015)

The Freeform family drama featuring a lesbian couple, their biological son and four foster children struck a chord when it featured the youngest same-sex kiss on television. Foster child Jude smooched Conner, opening a Pandora's box of teen emotions and leading to one angry father.

Robin Roberts thanks her girlfriend (2015)

The "Good Morning America" anchor who moved us to tears while touring her hometown during Hurricane Katrina, won an Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2013 Espy's, and bravely battled a rare blood disorder in front of us all came out to the world in 2015. Roberts publicly acknowledged her long-time girlfriend, becoming one of the nation's first openly gay news anchors.

The Real O'Neals (2016)

ABC's hilarious sitcom, now in its second season, features a family coming to terms with real life situations and the fresh outing of gay teenager Kenny O'Neal. It's as fresh and frank as it is funny.