A look back at some of the amazing queer pop culture highlights from 2023

Pop culture guru David Ferguson gives his own personal review of the best queer content that came out in 2023.

Split screen of queer content out in 2023: Red white & royal blue, heartstopper vol 5, Kylie Minogue.
Image: Via X - @KylieTWST, @FilmUpdates, @missmona1998

GCN contributor David Ferguson dives back into 2023 to uncover some of the best queer comics, books, movies and more.

Happily, 2023 was a bumper year for queer content, so some things may end up being left out of this review. Without further ado, here is some of the best content that includes queer themes, identities and stories from the past year.

Let’s start with the world of comics. As I wrote in a piece on Luke Healy last year, I think his work Dogs On Dates was the comic that gave me the most joy in 2023 and continues to do so in 2024.

Comic creator Anna Fitzpatrick brought out a second volume of Alien Heart, starring one of my favourite queer characters, Ivy. She’s the type of character you just want to see succeed.

Rounding out the year was the latest volume of the beloved series Heartstopper. It had been suggested that this would be the final volume, but we’re getting another one to finish the story. This one included a helpful timeline, so you know where the Heartstopper novellas fit in with the comic volumes.

Although not all published in 2023, I did discover a few queer comics at Thought Bubble, which continues to be my favourite comic convention.


I think I’ll need to up my book-reading game in 2024. I tend to go for old books, but this year, I’m going to try to follow the Queer Book Club Dublin’s monthly list, even if it is unlikely I can make it to their events. Two books I’ll mention from 2023 are comedian Zach Zimmerman’s Is It Hot in Here? (Or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth) and a book version of a podcast I am currently trying to catch up on, The I’m Grand Mamual.



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Un post condiviso da I’m Grand Mam (@imgrandmam)

If we’re talking about music, I have to mention Troye Sivan. Some people have said that he has brought back the idea that maybe you should have a cool music video to go with your song. He does put a lot of effort into them. People were all abuzz about ‘Rush’, but I think my favourite tune from his latest album, Something To Give Each Other, was ‘One Of Your Girls’. The music video features Troye as we have never seen him before. A fun side note: Troye was parodied on SNL, with Timothée Chalamet and boygenius portraying him, much to Troye’s delight.

2023 also saw Jake Shears of Scissor Sisters, release a second solo album titled Last Man Dancing, which features a collaboration with gay icon Kylie Minogue. Jake also appeared as a support act for Duran Duran in Dublin and kind of stole the show with a mix of Scissor Sisters favourites and tracks from his new album.

I should also note new releases from the aforementioned Kylie Minogue and another gay icon, Dolly Parton. Kylie’s ‘Padam Padam’ was probably the queer song of 2023, and Dolly’s album Rockstar features duets with queer artists like Miley Cyrus, Elton John and Linda Perry, covering some of their iconic songs.


Once again, Heartstopper steals the show, and I don’t think I need to go too much into that one, apart from saying that season 2 came out and was as successful as the first, if not more.

However, my favourite of 2023 was Fellow Travelers, a historical romance starring Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey as two lovers who first meet during the height of McCarthyism. I will point out that it is a tough watch in parts.

Another tough watch was the Swedish tragicomedy Tore, which was written by and starred William Spetz. It tells the story of a boy who loses his father and does everything and anything to avoid dealing with his grief.

With a similar setting to Heartstopper was the Japanese show I Cannot Reach You. It is the story of childhood best friends. Yamato, the cool, smart one who’s good at almost everything, and Kakeru, his average, dorky friend who struggles to do anything right. What happens when the cool and quiet Yamato reveals his true feelings?


And let’s not forget about Glamorous. Starring Kim Cattrall and Miss Benny, it tells the story of Marco, a young make-up enthusiast, who is hired by make-up mogul Madolyn Addison. Fashion isn’t usually my thing and the series got mixed reviews, but the acting won me over.

I also need to call out One Piece and Doctor Who for their queer representation. One of the patented quick side notes: check out queer comedians Bowen Yang and Kate McKinnon desperately trying not to crack in an SNL ABBA Christmas parody sketch.

When it comes to queer movies out in 2023, I think Red, White & Royal Blue got the most attention. I can see why with two handsome leads like Taylor Zakhar Perez (as the US President’s son) and Nicholas Galitzine (as a British prince). Rom-coms are not my thing, and I only watched out of morbid curiosity, but it was enjoyable enough. I will say I’m happy that a queer film like this got so much attention. I’ll recommend another Nicholas Galitzine queer and Irish movie: Handsome Devil (2016). I liked him more in that.

My next movie pick is Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate, a documentary film about a queer nightclub, Eldorado, during the Weimar Republic and the reign of the Nazis in Germany. That era is a topic that has arisen a couple of times on my favourite queer podcast Bad Gays, but there is something different about seeing it shown in a film.

Staying with documentaries but on a completely different topic, I really enjoyed the Netflix documentary on WHAM!, if only for the fact that it goes into the creation of one of my favourite songs, ‘Careless Whisper’. There is an iconic part of that song that may not have been included if circumstances were different.

I’ve already spoken about Marry My Dead Body, so not much to say on that apart from: watch it if you haven’t!

Another one to check out is Thai film Doi Boy, which sees Sorn, a sex worker, being drawn into a complex relationship with one client, an investigator probing a political activist.

I’ll round off my list with another shocker, recommending a Ben Whishaw movie. The French movie Passages sees Whishaw as Martin, whose marriage to Tomas (Franz Rogowski) falls apart when Tomas starts an affair with a woman. I watched it for Ben Whishaw, but I think Franz Rogowski’s performance stole the show.

Those Bad Gays added Extra Bad Gays, which sees them discussing current topics and subjects outside the usual biographies of questionable queers. A new season of the regular show is upcoming and I look forward to that.

As I mentioned before, I’m catching up on I’m Grand Mam. I’m late to the party and still have lots of episodes to go through.



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In 2023, I saw a few queer stage shows, including Spicebag’s Stefan Fae in There Will Be Rainbows; Xnthony bringing Oliver Cromwell Is Really Very Sorry back on tour; and a musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s 2006 graphic memoir, Fun Home (GCN’s former editor Peter Dunne reviewed it here). All were wonderful and I’m happy to see the continued success of both Stefan Fae and Xnthony.


On the music side of things, I saw the iconic Pet Shop Boys in a gig that I won’t be forgetting for a long time. They played all the hits and put on a great show.

As I mentioned earlier, Jake Shears supported Duran Duran and, to me, he stole the show and performed all the songs you’d want to hear from him.

So that was my review of all things queer from 2023. As said at the beginning, there might be some that I missed and there are some that I haven’t gotten to, including the Italian film Nuovo Olimpo and a biopic titled Cassandro, about a gay wrestler who revolutionised lucha libre (Mexican wrestling). I’m off to watch one of those now!

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