7 / 16Mark Seliger/ABC/Getty Images
Ricky (Wilson Cruz), “My So-Called Life” (1994)
Rickie Vasquez (Wilson Cruz), "My So-Called Life" (1994)

Long before Kurt Hummel walked the halls of William McKinley High School, there was Enrique "Rickie" Vasquez. The 15-year-old sophomore was one of the first teen characters to truly express himself in primetime. Although Angela Chase initially described Rickie as "bi" to her parents, he ultimately declared himself to be "gay" on the teen drama.

He proudly marched to his own drummer, wore a hoop earring and eyeliner, and hung out in the girls' bathroom with Angela and their mutual BFF Rayanne Graff. Rickie never found romance in the short run of "My So-Called Life," but he once had a crush on Angela's dream man, Jordan Catalano (Jared Leto). Rickie never connected with his later crush either, heartthrob Cory Helfrich. Even though his two best gal pals were the sources of most of the big dramas in "MSCL," Rickie had issues of his own. He was forced to live with an abusive uncle until his mentor, Richard Katimski, a gay teacher, finally took him in.

Wilson Cruz, the actor who played Rickie, could relate. At 19 years old, Cruz was forced to live on the streets. His father threw him out of the house when Cruz announced he was gay.

What to Read Next

The Evolution of Gay TV Characters

October 4, 2012

There was once a time when portraying a gay character on a TV show was taboo. As the American public becomes more accepting of nontraditional couples, same-sex relationships have been increasingly common in sitcoms and dramas. And they are no longer stereotypes added in for a cheap laugh but instead an important part of their shows, portrayed with depth and range. From "Modern Family" to "Revenge," TV's not just about straight folks anymore. Here's a rundown of the evolution of gay characters on TV. Amy and Nancy Harrington, Yahoo! Contributor Network