Look Out for These 10 Outstanding Queer Newcomers in Film/TV

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday November 29, 2022

Isaac Powell (left) and Zane Phillips
Isaac Powell (left) and Zane Phillips  

LGBTQ+ actors continue to break ground in all mediums as more queer roles are played by out actors. There have also been several gay-themed films that have managed to burrow out of the niche category, like "Fire Island" and "Bros," and although the latter did not perform as expected at the box office (varying reasons have been debated), the film still got financed by a major studio. It will be interesting to see how the Jim Parsons' dramedy "Spoiler Alert" does this holiday season.

Streaming services continue to offer many diverse gay stories, with Netflix leading the pack giving us "Heartstopper," "Sex Education," "Elite," and "Young Royals," to just name a few.

And there are so many exciting new queer-themed films on the Festival circuit that deserve a platform, including "Chrissy Judy," "Where Butterflies Don't Fly," "Lonesome," "Two Eyes," "The Blue Caftan," "Blessed Boys," and "Everything of Value," again to name a few. Look for these titles hopefully popping up somewhere sometime in 2023.

At EDGE, we've put together a list of some of the most exciting newcomers of 2022. All identify as LGBTQ+.

Joe Locke in "Heartstopper"
Joe Locke in "Heartstopper"  

Joe Locke

Arguably the queer breakout actor of the year (in a runaway series success), Brit-born Joe Locke catapulted to stardom with his nuanced portrait of a bullied teen in Alice Oseman's groundbreaking Netflix series "Heartstopper," which has been renewed for at least two more seasons. The openly gay actor plays Charlie, a sweet, shy teen who falls for Nick (Kit Connor), the school jock. The two embark on one of the most enchanting queer love stories of our time. The dynamic young actor will soon be featured in the upcoming Disney+ "WandaVision" spinoff "Agatha: Coven of Chaos."

Cooper Koch
Cooper Koch  

Cooper Koch

One of the most stunningly handsome and talented out newcomers of 2022 co-starred in Oscar nominee John Logan's queer thriller "They/Them," opposite Kevin Bacon. Cooper Koch plays Stu, a self-hating swimmer sent to gay conversion camp, who eventually embraces his sexual orientation. The audience roots for the troubled Stu because Koch imbues him with a warmth and an almost breathless desire to be who he is. In Carter Smith's gross-out thriller "Swallowed," currently on the fest circuit, Koch manages to steal all his scenes, delivering a captivating turn.  Incidentally, this hot queer actor has a gay twin brother...

Ben Aldridge
Ben Aldridge  

Ben Aldridge

Brit stage, screen, and TV actor Ben Aldridge has been making a splash in the UK for a decade now, but with his poignant and mesmerizing performance in Michael Showalter's "Spoiler Alert," co-starring Jim Parsons, he is sure to be on the U.S. gaydar very soon. The sexy thesp's early stage credits include the musical version of "American Psycho," opposite Matt Smith and Jonathan Bailey in 2013. In 2021 he self-identified as gay. Aldridge recently completed M. Night Shyamalan's queer-themed film "Knock at the Cabin," with Jonathan Groff and Dave Bautista, which will be released in February 2023.

Zane Phillips
Zane Phillips  

Zane Phillips

Hunky Zane Phillips plays Dex, a flirty, yum-infused version of Jane Austin's iconic Mr. Wickham, character from "Pride and Prejudice," in Andrew Ahn's "Fire Island." And although Dex doesn't turn out to be the most likable character, the out actor delivers a stand-out performance as a dude comfortable enough with his own sexuality to be able to use those sexy charms to get what he wants. Phillips will next be seen in the queer-themed TV series "Glamorous," starring Kim Cattrall.

Fin Argus
Fin Argus  

Fin Argus

In Peacock's "Queer as Folk" reboot, the exceptional Fin Argus played Mingus, a non-binary high school student who is an aspiring drag artist. After a brief but impressionable sexual encounter with Brodie (Devon Way), Mingus is almost killed when a shooter enters the club he is performing in and begins firing. Brodie saves him. Argus was a revelation in the too-timely 8-episode series, which was strangely not renewed for a second season. He previously starred in the Disney+ film musical "Clouds," in 2020. Argus identifies as gender queer.

Devin Way
Devin Way  

Devin Way

The glue that held the new (and now no more) "Queer as Folk" ensemble together was the selfish, inconsiderate, yet charming and lovable Brodie Beaumont, played to the naked hilt by Devin Way. Brodie's bond with Ruthie (the magnetic Jesse James Keitel) was at the heart of the series. Way had an impressive 8-episode arc on ABC's "Gray's Anatomy" in the 2019-2020 season, but it wasn't until "QasF" that viewers were able to see just how immersive and daring the out actor could be. Here's hoping we see him again soon.

Yasmin Finney
Yasmin Finney  

Yasmin Finney

Alice Oseman's "Heartstopper" is a celebration of LGBTQ+ representation, and another wonderful actor from that series, Yasmin Finney, plays Charlie's bestie, Elle, a young trans girl who falls in love with her friend Tao (William Gao). This landmark series is to be applauded for its inclusion and for casting amazing actors like Finney, who imbues Elle with such grace and authenticity that we can all empathize with her.

Luke Fetherston
Luke Fetherston  

Luke Fetherston

Another handsome and talented Brit, Luke Fetherston, made his mark in Lifetime's sometimes campy, sometimes powerful "Flowers in the Attic" origins movies (based on the V.C. Andrews books) — specifically, in Part Three, which centers on a taboo gay romance between Joel (Luke Fetherston), the son of evil patriarch Malcolm Foxworth (Max Irons), and a Black family employee, Harry (Jordan Peters). All hell breaks loose when the two dudes are discovered in a compromising position and Joel is sent to a horrific institution to be cured. Fetherston recently opened up about how he was told to hide his sexuality, something he opted not to do.

Isaac Powell
Isaac Powell  

Isaac Powell

The 2020 revival of "West Side Story" on Broadway signaled the discovery of a new and exciting leading man, Isaac Powell — that is, until COVID killed the show. Lucky for us, the Ryan Murphy machine became aware of his talents, casting him in the not-so-great "American Horror Story: Double Feature," and this year in the far better "American Horror Story: NYC," where he plays Zachary Quito's artist boyfriend, who ends up falling for Charlie Carver. Out since the age of 16, Powell resonates charm, wit, intelligence and oozes a kind of Montgomery Clift sensuality.

Todd Flaherty
Todd Flaherty  

Todd Flaherty

Even though the fabulous indie "Chrissy Judy" has yet to land a distribution deal (a notion that will confound anyone who has seen it), this gay-themed gem managed to be included in almost every LGBTQ+ festival in 2022. That more than warrants a shout out to the film's creator Todd Flaherty (writer, director, producer, editor, and star), a quintuple threat. The movie honestly examines the breakup of two drag artists who are close friends. They say jack of all trades, master of none; Flaherty proves to be the exception.

Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide (figjamfilm.com) and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute