Black Lightning’s lesbian superhero opens up about getting a girlfriend

Black Lightning’s black lesbian superhero is set to get a new girlfriend – and the actress playing her could not be more excited.

The CW’s new show – which is available on Netflix – features Anissa Pierce, who finds out that just like her title character father Jefferson, she has powers.

Played by Nafessa Williams, Anissa must come to terms with her newfound abilities on the way to becoming Thunder – a process which Williams has compared to coming out as a lesbian.

(The CW)

Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, the actress said her character, who is also a medical student and a teacher at her father’s school, was in a period of “discovery”.

“She begins to struggle with it because she’s learning these things about herself and she’s finding out about how these powers work and where they came from,” Williams said.

“But it’s one of those things [where she wonders:] am I a freak? Do I share it? Is anyone going to believe me? My parents are overprotective, how are they going to accept it?

(Facebook/black lightning)

“It’s almost in the mental space you’re at if you’re coming out as a gay or a lesbian to your parents,” she continued. “It’s a parallel like that as well.

“It’s a secret that she holds onto for a while because she really doesn’t know who to talk to about it and how people are going to react to that.”

After revealing her powers in episode two with her destruction of a sink, the programme chose last week to casually reveal Anissa’s sexuality by showing her in bed with her girlfriend Chenoa.

(Tumblr/of-dragons-and-dreams and The CW)

They kissed, they talked, they argued and they generally acted like a normal couple.

But Anissa’s love life is about to get a whole lot more complicated, it seems.

Grace Choi, played by Pretty Little Liars actress Chantal Thuy, will be introduced as Anissa’s girlfriend at some point in the series.

Anissa and Grace (The CW)

In the comics, half-Amazonian, Asian-American Grace is bisexual, and there seems to be no reason to doubt she will be in the show as well.

Williams said Anissa and Grace “have a lot in common. If you’re familiar with the comics, they were a group called The Outsiders.”

And the actress said that Grace would help her character.

(The CW)

“She’s a peace of mind for Anissa. It’s pretty cool to be able to tap into that.”

A black lesbian superhero is a groundbreaking role to play, but Williams dismissed suggestions that it was in any way a strain on her.

(The CW)

“I won’t say that I feel any pressure,” she said. “I believe love is love.

“I’m just really grateful to tell the story for young lesbians – and black lesbians in particular – who don’t really see themselves on TV.

(The CW)

“My hope is that when you watch Anissa, a young lesbian is inspired to walk boldly as who she is and to love herself and to love herself exactly how she looks,” Williams added.

“Also, my parents on this show, they’re very supportive of my sexual preference, and maybe this can serve as an inspiration to parents at home watching who are dealing with a child who is gay or lesbian and not knowing how to communicate or be as open.

Black Lightning Ep. 101-- "Dark Matter of My Brain" -- Photo Credit: Mark Hill/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

(The CW)

“I hope that our family on the show is an inspiration for some families just to be open and accept your children and love them.”

Black Lightning joins another show on TV which has a lesbian superhero – Marvel’s Runaways, in which one of the main characters, Karolina Dean, slowly realises her sexuality while also figuring out her powers.

(YouTube/Whedonopolis Videos)

Last year, Thor: Ragnarok included Valkyrie, a bisexual superhero and woman of colour – though fans were ultimately disappointed with the fact that her sexuality wasn’t made clear on screen.

Marvel also launched a comic led by America Chavez, a queer Latina teenager with lesbian parents.

Karolina with friend (YouTube/Hulu)

The comic, called America, prompted an outpouring of support from readers who were overjoyed to finally see an LGBT Latina superhero lead her own comic.

However, Marvel also moved to quash speculation that two warriors in the upcoming film Black Panther will be in a lesbian relationship, sparking outrage and accusations of erasure.