For a lot of women, it's Willow or Tara. Xena. The L Word. , and for some young girls right now it's Pearl, Rose, Korra or Assami. The point is that there are a few "core" characters that same gender attracted women (and women-aligned non-binary people) seem to identify as their first big influence, their most notable experience onscreen growing up. Mine's a little less well-known, but I wanted to talk a tiny bit about her, her storyline, and me.
Her name is Mickie Hendrie. She was a character on British medical soap/drama thing Holby City from 17th March 2004 to 12th September 2006. She was a nurse, and was played by Kelly Adams. And most importantly, she had a storyline about coming to terms with being a lesbian. -- At the beginning of her run, she seems to be suffering a lot from society's heterosexual expectations, since she is found drunk in a bar by her friend Donna, about to go home with a guy "because I'm a virgin" (paraphrased). Donna gets her out of that, phew!
But only a few episodes later, Mickie and Donna share a drunken kiss, which the BBC appear to have cut of lot of the footage for as at that time it was considered inappropriate for the pre-watershed slot. (damn, the source for this is behind a paywall, ugh...) and basically the implication was that they had sex. The morning after Donna does the famous "well that was nice and all but I'm not like that". They do manage to become friends again, and Donna is supportive in a well-meaning but incompetent way – taking Mickie to see a lesbian band very soon after their kiss, and trying to set her up with a lesbian friend. (Reminds me a lot of my friend saying she's seated me next to a lesbian friend at her upcoming wedding)
(There's also a bit which sticks in my mind where Mickie gets upset after a patient's death, takes drugs Donna had given her earlier and ends up vomiting, semi-conscious and mugged in an alleyway, but that's just because I have a thing for hurting the characters I like, don't mind me …)
Mickie continues to fight against accepting her sexuality: in response to Donna setting her up with a girl she basically says "fuck off I'll pick my own date" and kisses a male doctor, Mubbs. Later he asks her out and she agrees. Donna is like, what the fuck, I thought you were a lesbian, why?? Mickie then agrees to go to a gay bar with Donna instead, but Mubbs invites himself along anyway.
This is a lot of a disaster, because Mubbs is very upset to discover he's in a gay bar, and because Donna brings along the friend she was trying to set Mickie up with originally. That friend and Mickie are chatting away very happily *cough flirting cough* and Mubbs barrels up and is all "fuck off, she's with me". Mickie rounds on him and says that the kiss was a mistake and that she's not attracted to him.
A week or so later, after Mubbs has screamed at her about how he hates getting led on by women, she tells him she's gay. That kind of ends the conflict there, if I remember rightly? She has quite a few crushes on women but of course is never allowed a relationship. She leaves the hospital in series 8 episode 47 to go and train as a doctor at Newcastle University. -- When I was watching this storyline unfold, I was 12 - 13. Still a year or so before my first proper crush, before I "officially" came out as bi, but every time Mickie came on TV I got a burst of adrenalin. She was my favourite. I didn't know why back then, had barely even begun to think about my possible sexuality, but Mickie and that storyline burned pretty deep.
I didn't watch any other show with same-gender attracted characters in for a good few years – there was no choice. We had two TVs and I either shared them with my mum or with my younger brothers. The 2005 drama Sugar Rush passed me by – I desperately wanted to watch it but just couldn't. There would of course have been ways, but I was an extremely passive and disconnected child/teenager who never realised that other solutions were even available (for any problems in life, not just being closeted). I have a horrible feeling that actually the next same-gender kiss I saw on TV might have been Jack and Ianto, and that was 2000 and fucking 7. So watching Mickie wasn't a realisation moment or anything incredibly special like that, but she was the first same-gender attracted woman I'd ever seen on TV, watched right under my mum's nose, and even though I didn't know why, her storyline felt special and exciting to me.
24, recently graduated with an MA. Unemployed and sad about it, biromantic and proud of it.