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What a year eh? Little did we realise 12 months ago just how soon our world would be turned upside down by a global pandemic. It’s been tough, and the toll has been particularly felt by LGBTQ+ people for many different reasons.

But while we have all faced our challenges this year, there have also been uplifting moments worthy of celebration. Whether it was coming together as a community to support those most marginalised, increased visibility, and social and legal progression for LGBTQ+ people across the globe, amongst the chaos we’ve witnessed sparks of queer joy and resilience.

So to mark these moments, we’ve rounded up 10 of the more uplifting and encouraging stories from 2020 that gives us hope for brighter days ahead.

Andrew Tess

Black Trans Lives Matter marches in London, New York City and across the globe

Pride as we have known it may have been cancelled this year, but in its place something significantly more urgent and important rose up. Following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis back in May, we witnessed a resurgence in the Black Lives Matter movement who rightfully demanded an end to racial injustice. As part of this global uprising, the LGBTQ+ community and its allies specifically came out for Black Trans Lives, noting the increased violence faced by Black trans women in particular. Thousands came together in Brooklyn, New York and London, England – as well as many other major cities – to march in solidarity. It was a massive display of support for our Black trans and queer siblings, and one that needs to be maintained into 2021 and beyond.

Elliot Page comes out publicly as trans

There’s nothing better than seeing someone feel comfortable enough to be their authentic self in a public way and be overwhelmingly supported and celebrated for doing so. One of Hollywood’s most beloved LGBTQ+ actors, Elliot Page, came out as trans back at the start of December. “I can’t begin to express how remarkable it feels to finally love who I am enough to pursue my authentic self,” he said in a social media post. Netflix immediately updated his actor profile on their platform to reflect and respect his pronouns, and stated that his role in The Umbrella Academy would be unchanged. The trans and non-binary experience has had a tough year being challenged by bigoted minds in mainstream media, but its moments like this where there’s hope and relief that some progress is being made.

Drag Race crowns four queens of colour in a single year

There was more Drag Race on our screens in 2020 than ever before – and thank heavens considering we all had plenty of downtime to watch it. But more importantly, it was incredible to see a full run of winners being queens of colour across the four main series that have aired. Jaida Essence Hall took the crown first with her gag-worthy turn in season 12, while Heidi N Closet walked away with Miss Congeniality. Shortly after Shea Couleé’s long-awaited return to the workroom for All Stars 5 resulted in her also being inducted into the Drag Race Hall of Fame. Up North for the debut season of Canada’s Drag Race, Priyanka became the first person of Indo-Caribbean descent to win in the franchise’s global history. And then over on the inaugural season of Drag Race Holland, Peruvian queen Envy Peru walked away with the crown. “It’s so powerful to see so many queens of colour being elevated to such a wonderful level on a global scale with a global audience watching it happen,” Shea told us earlier this year. “It’s a beautiful moment in queer culture and history right now to see all these queer, gender non-conforming people of colour serving as leaders and examples for a global brand.”

Exist Loudly Fund raises over £110,000 to support queer Black youth

During the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement across the summer, youth worker and activist Tanya Compas wanted to use her platform to support Black queer youth in particular. She started the Exist Loudly Fund to raise money to create workshops and events for those most vulnerable and marginalised. However, within a matter of hours the campaign took off in a big way. Not only did Tanya’s fundraising efforts mean she could support Black queer youth through her own initiative, the £110,000 total meant she could donate money to other organisations who help the community too. “We gave £58,000 to Colour Youth Network, Gendered Intelligence and a few other places. They were all places I’ve worked with and they specifically created spaces for Black and POC young people,” she told us. “It was imperative for me to share it with other organisations who have already been doing the work longer than I have and pay homage to them by making a collaborative community. We’re all working towards helping solve a social issue, but if you’re in competition with each other, you’re not going to solve anything.”

Related: Tanya Compas is a youth worker and activist spreading LGBTQ+ love through humanity and humility

Cecilie Johnsen

Mexico, Germany, Albania, Queensland among those who have banned conversion therapy

It’s a sad fact that the idea of ‘conversion therapy’ still exists in the world, but every day LGBTQ+ people fall victim to the abhorrent and harmful practise. There has been progress this year to outlaw it, however, with Mexico, Germany, and Albania leading the way in making the practise illegal. Queensland also became the first state in Australia to ban conversion therapy, which will hopefully usher the rest of the country to follow suit. The UK, Canada and France have made promises to make it illegal soon, but they need to act faster in order to save vulnerable LGBTQ+ youth who continue to be subjected to it.

Northern Ireland legalises same-sex marriage

It’s been long overdue, but Northern Ireland reached a historic milestone during January this year. As we watch for countries around the world begin to slowly recognise the rights and liberties of same-sex couples, it was momentous day to see LGBTQ+ individuals living in Northern Ireland to be on the receiving end of a progressive change. The initial ruling excluded those that were part of a civil partnership, but this was later overturned in early December. As of this month, couples in a civil partnership were also able to convert their unification into legally recognised marriage.

Trans representation in football saw a major breakthrough

Across 2020, we saw football icons across the globe stand up for their true selves and represent their identity. The sport has been know to have a contentious relationship with LGBTQ+ rights and representations, but we have seen an incredible amount of growth this year. Some notable moments include: Canadian footballer Quinn coming out as trans (who was also recognised by GAY TIMES for our Sporting Hero Honour), Lucy Clark debuted on the pitch as the first ever trans referee, footie journo Nicky Bandini also came out as trans, and a huge milestone was achieved as Mara Gomez signed into the big leagues as a pro player for Argentina. While these powerful moments were captured and seen, there’s a long way to go for inclusivity and LGBTQ+ opportunity across all sports. 2020 has kicked off to a great start, but we hope to see more progress in the next round!

Tokyo Rainbow Pride via Flickr

Japan has seen a growing progress in LGBTQ+ equality

From launching the first LGBTQ+ centre in Tokyo to culturally recognising same-sex marriages, 2020 has some incredible progress in Japan. While there’s still initiatives to be pushed, the need for law changes and LGBTQ+ visibility, we have seen the country implement its first steps to encouraging change. Kyoto became the latest city to bring in a ‘partnership system’ that recognises same-sex couples. Mie Prefecture became the first Japanese region to ban outing someone, an issue which has been common in Japan. But, also, we saw a wider more inclusive culture take ahold this year. Japanese Airlines chose to scrap the commonly used phrase “ladies and gentlemen” on board their flights in favour for gender-neutral greetings to make everyone feel welcomed. Japan’s gradual changes is inclusivity and visibility haven’t go unnoticed and hope to see more changes around the corner.


America’s history-making representation in the House and Senate

You may not have noticed with everything else going on, but LGBTQ+ senators and legislators made history in the 2020 US election. While the 2020 US election had us all on edge as we waited days for conclusive results, another victory was won behind the scenes. The election provided a number of firsts across numerous states, increasing representation for LGBTQ+ people in positions of power. Sometimes change can be incremental, but vastly shape the political culture and opinions of those around you. With a handful of new, diverse, inclusive senators and legislations taking pole positions in the American political framework, we hope to see regulations that are open to greater acceptance, LGBTQ+ visibility, and inclusion across all individuals. You can read the GAY TIMES list of senators and legislators here.

© Quinn Dombrowski via Flickr

Scotland made history with mandatory LGBTQ+ education

This year, Scotland announced it would introduce LGBTQ+ inclusive lessons to their school curriculum, which makes it the first country in the world to do so. This pioneering move means that all public schools will receive lessons in issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community such as same-sex marriage, same-sex parenting, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia and the HIV and AIDS epidemic. Over recent years, there has been a growing demand for LGBTQ+ education to be included within the national curriculum and a wider sense of acceptance. We hope that the education standard set by Scotland will be adopted across the entire of the UK, so schools become a place where kids are educated and comfortable being themselves.