Welcome to the 10th installment of our 2020 Pride Month Series! Each day in the month of June, we will be highlighting a different member of the LGBTQ+ community who we think is a great example of representation and dynamic characterization. We will focus on fictional characters, celebrities, and activists alike — the positive voices within the LGBTQ+ community and in mainstream media.
In the Riverdale spin-off Katy Keene, Jorge Lopez, played by Jonny Beauchamp, is not only an out and proud gay man, but he also has a night job as drag performer Ginger Lopez. Jorge struggles with his parents accepting him for who he is but he knows that he has the best of friends supporting him, and he stands up for what he believes in. Keep reading to find out why Jorge and Ginger deserve a spot in our Pride series.
In the very first episode, we immediately find out Jorge’s two passions: Broadway and drag performing. Jorge auditions for the Broadway version of Mannequin but he doesn’t make the first cut, being told that he’s not masculine enough. That night, Jorge tells Katy, Pepper, and Josie that he might be “too gay” for Broadway and the next night, he tells Katy he’s thinking about quitting Broadway. Katy suggests Jorge auditions again, but this time as Ginger Lopez to show the director a side of him he’s never seen before. When Ginger shows up at the auditions however, the director remembers Jorge, telling him this isn’t some drag contest in the village. Jorge begins to leave but he comes back, telling the director he’s heard it all before. “Too soft, too fem, too gay, too skinny.” He says he doesn’t care, he knows he’s good enough and if they don’t see the talent that they have right in front of them, they don’t deserve to have him in their chorus. Jorge promises the director one day he will know the name Ginger Lopez, and he’s going to see it in lights, Carnegie Hall.
In episode two, Jorge’s mom, Luisa, brings him an ad for an open call for Cats: The Musical. However, Jorge says he’s planning on taking a break from Broadway, he’s done with being told no. Luisa tells Jorge that being told no is part of the job. She had to hear it a million times before she became a Rockette. Jorge gives in and decides to audition. However, his performance at the audition is cut short when the director tells him he heard about his outburst at the Mannequin audition and dismisses him. Jorge finds out from his agent that he’s been blacklisted and his agent considers even dropping him, but decides to give him one more chance to audition for the historical rap musical, Jefferson. Jorge ends up nailing the audition but the director wants him on the tour version, not Broadway. Luisa tells Jorge he’ll make it through and it’s worth celebrating.
Jorge prepares for his final show as Ginger Lopez at Molly’s Crisis but will be the best that the Midwest has ever seen. Drag queen Damsel Washington tells Jorge that Ginger won’t be welcomed in the Midwest, meaning that the wig and costume is going right back in the closet. As Ginger’s performing, she looks through the crowd, seeing Katy, Josie, and Pepper, and runs off stage. The three follow and Jorge tells them he’s wanted to be on Broadway ever since he was a little kid. But, if he’s giving up his life in New York, it has to be worth it. Jorge feels like he’s running away and taking the easy way out, which isn’t him or Ginger. He decides to stay and tells his mother the following day. Jorge tells Luisa that everything he wants to accomplish is in New York and his heart is telling him to stay. He gives up something that might’ve launched a career for him for something that is beyond that. He wants to stay with his friends and doesn’t want to give up Ginger. He knows that even though this might be the only shot he could have, he knows that staying is the right choice for him.
In the following episode you get to see more of Jorge’s relationship with boyfriend, Buzz. However, that relationship comes to a head when Buzz still isn’t ready to come out to his parents, despite dating Jorge for a year. Jorge understands Buzz’s not wanting to come out, since he still hasn’t told his parents about Ginger. Jorge invites Buzz to see him perform as Ginger at Molly’s Crisis and although Buzz reluctantly agrees, he doesn’t show up. Later that night, Buzz tries to bring Jorge chocolates but Jorge tells him how upset he is that he didn’t come to his performance, telling him to go home. The next night, Jorge gets the number of firefighter Bernardo, having met him earlier in the episode after bandaging an injured hand. The two start going out and in the fourth episode, Jorge starts to feel insecure. His father, Luis, can’t believe that Jorge managed to get a guy like Bernardo, a big, strong firefighter.
Jorge admits to the girls that he feels self-conscious when he’s around Bernardo, feeling the same insecurities he felt growing up with his brothers. The girls assure Jorge that he’s perfect and that he should invite Bernardo out. While at the club, a guy comes up to them, wanting to sit next to Bernardo and Jorge shoos him away. He admits that he was upset that Bernardo didn’t text him earlier and he’s been spiraling since then. Bernardo assures Jorge that he only has eyes for him, even again after Jorge feels insecure when guys are only hitting on Bernardo. He’s with Jorge because he’s sexy and a star.
Towards the end of the season, after reconnecting with Buzz, Jorge introduces him to Bernardo. Jorge sees the connection between his ex-boyfriend and current boyfriend and confirms with Bernardo that he likes Buzz. He suggests to him that they could become a throuple; Buzz could become their third. Bernardo agrees and the two talk to Buzz about it, who is less than thrilled and willing. He just came out to his parents, he’s not ready for that. Jorge can’t help but feel like he just got broken up with and Bernardo doesn’t want to deal with that anymore. Bernardo knows that Jorge can be a bit of a drama queen but if he doesn’t see that he is good enough for him, Bernardo doesn’t want to be with him. Later on, Jorge tells Katy, Pepper, Josie and a visiting Kevin Keller he just ruined the best relationship he’s had. Kevin tells him he should do a romantic gesture to show that he cares. Taking Kevin’s advice, Jorge tries to meet up with Bernardo the following morning to go on a jog but he sees Buzz with him instead. A couple of weeks later, they meet up to talk and Bernardo says he and Buzz just hung out a few times. Jorge admits to being scared of being abandoned again, which is why he clings to people or self-sabotages. Bernardo refuses to abandon him and offers a fresh start. Jorge has a lot to work through and believes it’s better if he does that on his own. Even though Jorge loves Bernardo, he knows that focusing on himself first is what he really needs. If there really is something there, it will still be there when he’s ready.
At the beginning of the season, Jorge has to sneak around the building while dressed as Ginger because his parents don’t know that he performs drag. He’s been afraid with how they’ll react. However, one day while walking through the hallway, Luisa spots him as Ginger but he quickly gets away. When Luisa tries to call him later, Jorge ignores it, telling Josie that when he came out to his parents, they froze him out. They didn’t talk for months and they’re still healing from that, telling them what he’s doing now could break their hearts. After having some time to think and talking with the girls, Jorge decides it’s time to finally come out to his mom about Ginger. And when he does, Luisa tells him that Ginger reminds her of her when she was Jorge’s age. She knew it was Jorge in the hallway and accepts him for being him.
A few episodes later, Ginger and Bernardo get jumped by four guys. Back at the apartment, Katy, Pepper, Josie and KO, along with Jorge’s family, are all worried. Luisa is grateful that Bernardo was there to protect Jorge, but he says he still got a couple good swings in with his high heels. Luis asks why Jorge was wearing heels and Jorge admits that he’s a drag performer, to which Luis is outraged. He later visits Jorge, telling him he’s sorry he walked out before. He’s just scared for Jorge because he got attacked. He begs Jorge to not to dress like a woman anymore, he doesn’t know what he’d do if he lost him. Backstage at a show, Katy finds Jorge and he tells her he’s angry that he can never walk down the streets of his city without looking over his shoulder. But he’s not scared of being attacked, he’s scared he could lose the support of his family. Katy tells him that family just isn’t in your blood, it’s who you choose. She chooses him, they have each other, they’re his family. A couple of days later, Katy, Pepper, Josie and KO show up at a gay pride rally. Ginger tells the crowd that for anybody out there who’s living in fear, that is the day the city sees them for who they really are.
Throughout the first season of Katy Keene, Jorge has gone through relationships, hardships, realizations. But one thing that never changed is the family that Jorge has surrounding him. His parents may not have completely understood him and it took them a while to accept him for who he is, but his friends support him through thick and thin. Jorge is passionate about performing, whether it’d be on a Broadway stage or a small stage, he cares so much about people, he knows that he can be himself or someone else but he’ll always have support. Jorge Lopez and Ginger Lopez are the embodiment of an LGBTQ icon. Hopefully we can see more of Jorge if and when Katy Keene is renewed for a season two.
Season one of Katy Keene is available to stream on HBO Max and for free on The CW app.