Where there's a "Will & Grace," there's a way.
The Apple TV+ five-part docuseries "Visible: Out on Television" (now streaming) depicts the evolution of how the LGBTQ community is portrayed on TV, from the McCarthyism-inspired homophobia to Ellen DeGeneres' coming out, to current series like FX's "Pose."
Comedian Wanda Sykes, an executive producer, also shares her experiences on camera.
She tells USA TODAY she hopes "Visible" will instill "a sense of pride" in the LGBTQ community "because you really do feel good about the strides that we’ve made and you're aware of how important it is to be represented."
Sykes recalls early portrayals of LGBTQ characters as "demented" people:
"You were killers, just sinister. Pretty much like how African Americans have been portrayed," she says. "It was always like deviant behavior, never the good guy."
Sykes wants TV programmers to understand the need to include LGBTQ people and those from other marginalized groups. "And, hopefully these shows won’t just be about being different, or being other. (They) will be about just telling their stories and they just happen to be other."
MSNBC host Rachel Maddow recognizes the impact TV has in creating a sense of belonging.
"Something about being on television makes people see you as part of the country, as part of our culture, as part of who we are as a nation," she says in "Visible."
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Other members of the LGBTQ community, or those with ties to its progression, are also a part of the series, which features interviews and television clips.
DeGeneres remembers "begging" Disney to let her character come out on her '90s sitcom. Oprah Winfrey, who appeared in the eventual coming-out episode of "Ellen" and addressed homosexuality on her former syndicated talk show, is also featured, as is out writer/producer/actress Lena Waithe and Billy Crystal, who played one of TV's first openly gay characters on ABC's 1970s sitcom "Soap."
The series also explores coverage of the AIDS epidemic, the introduction of non-binary characters and transgender representation on shows like "Orange Is the New Black" and "I Am Cait," starring Caitlyn Jenner.
Former "Project Runway" mentor Tim Gunn grew up at a time when homosexuality was thought of by some as a mental illness.
"Through my many psychiatrist experiences, people wanted to convert me," he remembers in "Visible." "So my psychological troubles became more and more serious. I made a very serious suicide attempt. I was hospitalized for two years and three months, as a teen."
Bravo host Andy Cohen and writer Bruce Vilanch recall gay people becoming targets for jokes. Trans activist Miss Major Griffin-Gracy shares the pain endured when straight men dressed in drag, as Milton Berle did in "The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour."
"They used this portrayal of us in a humorous way for them, but not humorous to me," she says. "So it was a hurtful thing."
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Sykes, who came out publicly in 2008, has said that she knew she was gay in elementary school.
Sykes hoped Winfrey's exploration of homosexuality and acceptance of gay people on her talk show would make it easier for her parents to accept her sexuality, as Winfrey was "pretty much the law. So when she was doing these coming-out episodes and being accepting, I was like, 'OK, well maybe this is gonna help,'" Sykes says.
In her own work, Sykes, who plays the part of a Fairy Gay Mother in the upcoming movie "Friendsgiving," says she wants her stand-up comedy to reflect her desire for the LGBTQ community to be more than their sexual orientation or gender.
"I talk about my wife and my kids, and, to me, my life says enough," she says.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Visible': Apple TV+ series covers TV's LGBTQ history