The very best and worst LGBT+ moments of 2021


2021 has been one other wild and messy yr – the world modified, inequalities persevered, and popular culture continued to distract us simply once we wanted it essentially the most.

We’ll at all times look again on 2021 because the sequel to 2020 no one requested for. This time final yr, everybody was saying good riddance – the pandemic had disrupted life as we knew it, and we had been all prepared to maneuver ahead into a greater world.

Ultimately, COVID outlined a lot of 2021, but it surely wasn’t the one factor that occurred this yr – and it wasn’t all unhealthy both. There have been additionally moments that had us crying pleased tears; LGBT+ rights progressed in some place (and regressed in others), and allies the world over continued to face up for the worldwide queer group.

It’s protected to say that 2021 has been one thing of a combined bag. Because the yr lastly attracts to a detailed, we have a look again at a few of the putting, affirming and devastating moments that outlined 2021.

The Capitol riots, lockdown, and the loss of life of an icon kicked off 2021

January 2021 isn’t actually a month we care to recollect. The festive season had simply come to an finish, with households and buddies separated by the pandemic. Vaccines had been simply beginning to be rolled out to essentially the most susceptible. All of us hoped the worst was behind us.

On 4 January, Boris Johnson gave an tackle to the nation the place he introduced that England can be returning to exhausting lockdown in a bid to alleviate the strain on hospitals.

Simply two days later, the world watched in horror as a far-right mob stormed america Capitol in Washington DC, refusing to imagine or settle for that Donald Trump had misplaced the election. It was a terrifying second, and it served as a well timed reminder simply how damaging and harmful the outgoing president actually was.

An extremist mob made up of Trump supporters conflict with police as they breach the Capitol constructing. (Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket by way of Getty)

Simply weeks later, on 20 January, Joe Biden was sworn in as forty sixth president of america. There have been loads of ups and downs since then, however one factor is abundantly clear: having Trump out of the White Home has been a great factor for America’s LGBT+ group – and for wider society.

There have been additionally some massive moments firstly of the yr for the LGBT+ group. It’s a Sin was launched within the UK, gripping the nation and bringing the realities of the AIDS epidemic to a complete new technology.

Tragically, January ended with the loss of life of trans icon SOPHIE. Based on her label, she climbed to a top to see the complete moon when she slipped and fell to her loss of life. There was an outpouring of grief from followers and from the broader LGBT+ group when her loss of life was confirmed.

Britney Spears’ conservatorship, Woman Gaga’s canines, and Joss Whedon’s ‘poisonous’ behaviour dominated headlines

In February, the documentary Framing Britney Spears aired – and at last, the world began to concentrate to the difficult authorized state of affairs the pop legend discovered herself in.

Wanting again, it’s exceptional to see simply how a lot has modified over the yr for Britney. In June, she spoke out towards her conservatorship for the primary time. Talking to a Los Angeles courtroom over the cellphone, a furious-sounding Britney Spears characterised the authorized association – underneath which her father had managed a lot of her life and funds for greater than a decade – as “abusive”. She alleged that these answerable for her life had stopped her from marrying her boyfriend – and she or he mentioned she had been forbidden from eradicating a contraceptive machine, that means she couldn’t have extra youngsters.

Britney Spears attends the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards
Britney Spears arrives for the MTV Video Music Awards 28 August 2016 at Madison Sq. Backyard in New York. (Getty/Angela Weiss/AFP)

That sensational courtroom look led to Britney getting a brand new lawyer, and it culminated in her conservatorship being terminated.

There have been additionally another massive popular culture moments that dominated the information cycle for a time frame – the identical month that Framing Britney Spears introduced her story to nationwide consideration, Woman Gaga’s canines had been stolen in Los Angeles. Shockingly, her canine walker Ryan Fischer was shot within the incident and was subsequently handled in hospital for critical accidents.

There have been additionally the allegations of “poisonous” behaviour towards Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon. The controversy kicked off on 10 February when Charisma Carpenter, who performed Cordelia Chase on the collection, launched a searing assertion by which she accused him of “abusing his energy” along with his “imply and biting behaviour”.

Lil Nas X giving Devil a lapdance was the cultural reset the world wanted

The world had already fallen in love with Lil Nas X by the point he launched “Montero (Name Me By Your Identify)” in March – however that tune, and its music video, sealed his place as one of the crucial thrilling artists working in the present day.

The tune was launched to essential acclaim, and it shortly skyrocketed to the highest of charts all the world over.  That was in no small half due to the music video, which confirmed Nas sliding down a pole to hell and giving Devil a lapdance. Queer folks had been thrilled by the horny, subversive video – and the same old suspects had been completely livid. There have been hilarious scenes of monks and pastors condemning Lil Nas X, and conservative mouthpieces used his success to attempt to keep related.

That tune helped Lil Nas X change into one of many largest artists on the earth – he launched his debut album Montero in September to essential acclaim. We are able to’t wait to see what 2022 will carry for him.

Lil Nas X performs onstage during iHeartRadio 103.5 KISS FM’s Jingle Ball 2021 in all pink
Lil Nas X performs onstage throughout iHeartRadio 103.5 KISS FM’s Jingle Ball 2021 Offered by Capital One at Allstate Area on 7 December 2021. (Daniel Boczarski/Getty for iHeartRadio )

Lil Nas X wasn’t the one queer artist to make waves in 2021 – over within the UK, pansexual icon Rina Sawayama continued her mission in the direction of pop domination. In February, each the Mercury Prize and the BRIT Awards modified their eligibility standards after she identified that she was ineligible in home classes, even supposing she had lived within the UK for 26 years.

We had been additionally thrilled when queer singer-songwriter Arlo Parks went on to win the Mercury Prize.

We had some massive, momentous popping out moments in 2021

It at all times feels important when well-known figures come out publicly as LGBT+ – it helps the remainder of us really feel seen and helps begin conversations about queerness (though it’s price noting that these conversations aren’t at all times useful).

In January, Philosophy Tube host and YouTuber Abigail Thorn got here out as trans. She used the chance to ship a shocking rebuke to anti-trans “feminists”.

“Trans folks, particularly trans folks of color, are hit hardest by unemployment, homelessness, and home, sexual, and police violence, however the conversion at all times focuses on rich white cis girls tweeting about bogs,” she mentioned.

Abigail Thorn sitting on a leather chair wearing a white shiny and black v-neck jumper
Abigail Thorn. (Display seize by way of YouTube)

In April, everybody (besides Billy Eichner, apparently) was stunned when The Bachelor star Colton Underwood got here out as homosexual. In Could, Demi Lovato got here out as non-binary. In a press release posted to social media, they mentioned utilizing they/them pronouns helped them seize “the fluidity I really feel in my gender expression”.

Different high-profile figures who got here out in 2021 embody Angel Olson, Carl Nassib, Cara Cunningham, Elvira, Corey Walsh, Courtney Stodden, Ella Hunt, Emma Corrin, Ezra Furman, JoJo Siwa, Joshua Bassett, Kal Penn, Kehlani, Laganja Estranja, TJ Osborne and Tommy Dorfman.

The deluge of well-known faces opening up about their sexuality or their gender identification exhibits simply how far we’ve come on LGBT+ points lately.

Queer folks made waves on TV – however others tried to carry us again

Talking of JoJo Siwa, Dancing With the Stars constructed an enormous queer following over the past yr by that includes the queer TikTok star on its newest season. She and her companion Jenna Johnson introduced queerness to the lots – and it was actually superb to behold. They in the end completed in second place.

Over within the UK, John Waithe and his dance companion Johannes Radebe wowed judges and audiences on Strictly Come Dancing as the primary all-male couple in its historical past. Seeing them performing collectively felt important – but it surely additionally felt, in some methods, unremarkable. Most individuals didn’t appear too involved by the truth that they had been two males dancing. The response was heartening and life-affirming.

That’s to not say that queer folks had been at all times accepted or embraced in leisure circles in 2021. There was widespread shock and disappointment when DaBaby launched right into a weird rant about HIV and “sucking d**ok” on the Rolling Loud Pageant in Miami, Florida in July. That incident led to Dua Lipa – with whom he famously collaborated with on “Levitating” – distancing herself from him. An extended line of well-known figures stepped ahead to sentence his feedback, as did HIV charities.

A picture of dababy at the rolling loud concert at new york
DaBaby performs as a particular visitor throughout 50 Cent’s set at Rolling Loud New York 2021 at Citi Discipline on 28 October 2021 in New York Metropolis. (/Astrida Valigorsky/Getty)

We want let’s imagine that was all – however in fact, it wasn’t. There was widespread shock when Dave Chappelle doubled down on his anti-trans views in his Netflix particular The Nearer. He declared himself to be on “crew TERF” and aligned himself with JK Rowling, who has change into well-known for her anti-trans tweets.

Whereas Chappelle was busy mouthing off, Elliot Web page did a strong sit-down interview with Oprah Winfrey to debate his transition and trans Jeopardy! champion Amy Schneider thrilled queer folks in every single place along with her record-breaking victories – and she or he isn’t accomplished but.

Elsewhere in popular culture, Playboy had its first ever homosexual male cowl star, a twink acquired rimmed on The White Lotus, Armie Hammer was accused of sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour (he denied the allegations). John Barrowman’s profession took a nosedive when he was accused of exposing himself to colleagues on Physician Who (he has mentioned the incidents weren’t sexual in nature).

Pose bowed out after three seasons – and Mj Rodriguez grew to become the primary trans girl nominated within the lead actress class on the Emmys for her star flip as Blanca. Talking of Pose, it was unbelievable to see Billy Porter opening up about his HIV standing – that easy act could have helped demystify a virus about which a lot misinformation persists.

On the planet of Drag Race, this was the yr of Bimini Bon Boulash, who immediately grew to become an icon following Drag Race UK season two. It was the primary of two UK seasons, with the third welcoming the franchise’s first competing cisgender girl, Victoria Scone, who was compelled to bow out early because of harm. We have now a sense we haven’t seen the final of her. Within the US, RuPaul lastly began listening to our cries for trans inclusion: we met Gottmik, the primary trans man to compete on the present, and mentioned hiya once more to Kylie Sonique Love and Jiggly Caliente on All Stars 6 – the previous turning into the primary American trans girl to win Drag Race.

And, in a second that devastated queer folks in every single place, the C**ok Destroyers broke up (we nonetheless haven’t gotten over that one).

Laurel Hubbard competes at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games
New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard competes within the girls’s +87kg group A last weightlifting occasion in the course of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Video games. (Getty/Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS)

In the summertime, queer folks felt a rush of emotion when Quinn grew to become the primary out trans Olympian to win a medal (and a gold one, at that) on the delayed Tokyo 2020 video games.

It was additionally exceptional to see Laurel Hubbard change into the primary ever out trans girl to compete on the Olympics, and to see non-binary skateboarder Alana Smith make their debut on the video games. Neither received a medal, however simply seeing them on sport’s largest international stage was an affirming and empowering expertise for trans folks in every single place.

Brits had been additionally thrilled when Tom Daley received a gold medal with diving companion Matty Lee.

LGBT+ rights stay in flux

On the authorized aspect of issues, 2021 was a yr of flux for LGBT+ folks. Within the UK, conversion remedy has remained authorized as Tory ministers have twiddled their thumbs and largely delayed coping with the difficulty. As time has passed by, it has change into more and more clear that the difficulty is now seen as one thing of a political scorching potato – higher to keep away from touching it for worry of upsetting a small however vocal group of transphobes. A public session right into a ban has been prolonged into 2022 – right here’s hoping that this time subsequent yr, Johnson (or his successor) has stopped the dither and delay.

That’s to not say there hasn’t been progress elsewhere on conversion remedy – Canada’s parliament voted to ban the discredited follow, and New Zealand inched nearer to creating the follow unlawful too. Different nations comparable to Eire, Israel, Norway, Denmark, Finland and France are additionally contemplating banning conversion remedy. Let’s hope 2022 will see better progress on the difficulty all all over the world.

Issues improved for LGBT+ folks in different components of the world too. Chile and Switzerland legalised same-sex marriage in landmark moments for queer folks in these nations. In the meantime, Botswana upheld a ruling which decriminalised same-sex relationships.

A Pleasure In Surrey activist protests exterior the primary annual convention of the LGB Alliance on the Queen Elizabeth II Centre on twenty first October 2021 in London, United Kingdom. Many LGBT+ activists and advocacy teams are against the LGB Alliance, a government-registered charity, which they think about to be a divisive anti-trans marketing campaign group. (picture by Mark Kerrison/In Photos by way of Getty Photographs)

Within the US, regardless of Joe Biden undoing the worst of Donald Trump’s assaults on trans rights, Republicans up and down the nation launched an unprecedented wave of assaults on the group. In October, Texas grew to become the tenth state to enact an anti-trans sports activities ban when governor Greg Abbott signed into regulation a invoice banning trans athletes from taking part in on college sports activities groups that align with their gender identities.

Related laws has been handed in Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and West Virginia. Based on the Human Rights Marketing campaign, a minimum of 130 anti-trans payments had been launched throughout 33 states this yr, focusing on sports activities inclusion, lavatory rights and healthcare. Of those, 13 had been signed into regulation. In whole, states adopted 25 new items of anti-LGBT+ laws.

HRC has known as on Biden to urgently move the Equality Act, which he promised would change into regulation inside his first 100 days. However with the Senate divided evenly, the 60 votes required to move the laws appears not possible to realize.

World wide, queer persons are nonetheless criminalised in additional than 60 nations for merely residing their lives overtly and authentically.

Within the UK, assaults on the trans group and its allies continued

Sadly, 2021 was a yr by which “gender essential” voices had been removed from silenced. Relatively, they got platforms on nationwide tv, in newspapers and on radio, which most of the time, they used to complain about being cancelled, seemingly oblivious to the that means of the phrase.

One of many outcomes of this was a “coordinated assault” on Stonewall throughout the mainstream media.

In a 24 Could assertion, Stonewall mentioned: “Over the previous few months there was a sustained assault on Stonewall’s Range Champions programme, which proudly companions with greater than 850 main employers to assist their LGBTQ+ colleagues to thrive.

“We imagine these assaults are threadbare and intentionally organised and coordinated to undermine assist for our work to make sure each LGBTQ+ worker can thrive at work.”

Sadly, this wasn’t the tip. Many main establishments lower ties with Stonewall all year long, together with the BBC and College School London, which claimed that being related to the charity posed a danger of perceived bias and of threatening tutorial freedom respectively, as if supporting trans rights is a matter of debate.

The BBC Stonewall
The BBC’s emblem. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty)

Talking of the BBC, the nation’s public broadcaster horrified the LGBT+ group all year long, however most forcefully when it revealed an article titled “We’re being pressured into intercourse by some trans girls”. The piece quotes the LGB Alliance (which was controversially given charity standing in April), a survey of 80 folks sourced by an anti-trans group, and a cis girl who later known as for trans girls to be “lynched” and “executed” (her contributions had been in the end faraway from the article, which stays on-line, in any other case intact).

Because the BBC continued to defend the piece, LGBT+ workers reportedly started an exodus.

These public assaults coincided with one more rise in hate crime: figures obtained in October revealed there to be 19,679 stories of hate crimes based mostly on sexual orientation in 2020-21, and a couple of,588 stories of transphobic hate crimes in the identical interval. Separate figures exhibits that between January and August this yr, a minimum of 14,670 homophobic hate crimes had been recorded within the UK. Throughout the identical interval, 2,129 transphobic offences had been reported.

ILGA-Europe mentioned in February that “hate crimes had been steadily rising… partially because of a rise in reporting, but in addition influenced by rising hostility in UK-wide media in the direction of trans identities and communities”. Regardless of all of it, the LGBT+ group refused to be crushed down, taking to the streets in protest again and again.

It was the deadliest yr on report for trans folks

There was loads of enjoyable and silliness alongside the best way, however there was quite a lot of ache and struggling in 2021 too for marginalised communities. It grew to become the deadliest yr on report for trans folks. Between 1 October 2020 and 30 September 2021, a minimum of 375 trans, non-binary or gender non-conforming folks had been killed violently the world over. The terrifying spate of killings has confirmed that transphobia is a illness – and there aren’t any indicators of it abating.

Analysis additionally proved what most of us already knew – COVID-19 has had a disproportionate influence on LGBT+ folks in every single place, significantly youthful members of the group who’ve confronted the problem of constructing social connections by Zoom as an alternative of by real-life encounters.

In fact, the world reeled in horror as Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August. Since then we’ve heard from quite a few homosexual Afghans concerning the horrors they don’t seem to be going through, and continued pleas for the worldwide group – and world leaders – to do extra to assist. Nearer to residence, throughout Europe, the group confronted legislative assaults from leaders in Poland and Hungary.

Regardless of the horrors of 2021, there may be hope for the long run. The final yr wasn’t at all times straightforward for queer folks, however the tide is continuous to vary. Rights are being received, equality is progressing. Queer folks and their allies have continued difficult prejudice and discrimination the place they see it – and that may proceed into the brand new yr, too.

And hey, if there’s one takeaway from 2021, it’s this: a minimum of Donald Trump lastly left the White Home.