LOOKING BACK, 2015

14 Times Our Faith In Humanity Was Restored This Year

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The news can be awfully depressing, and 2015 was no exception. But there was also plenty to inspire us, and we hold these victories of the human spirit close — some tiny and some ginormous — in order to keep this crazy, scary world in check this holiday season.

We sifted through a year’s worth of Queerty posts to find these gems of 2015. There are, of course, the predictable entries (anyone remember winning marriage equality in June?), but we hope you’ll take another moment to grin over the smaller stories — real people doing remarkable and heroic things for the betterment of all.

Our hats are off to all these fabulous folk.

Scroll down for a 2015 inspirational time hop…

1. Straight Teen Asks His Gay Best Friend To Prom

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True poetry came in the form of a cheesily-worded prom invitation when Jacob Lescenski of Las Vegas popped the question to Anthony Martinez.

“You’re hella gay, I’m hella str8, but you’re like my brother, so be my d8?”

While we’re always thrilled to hear stories of gay prom dates shattering the status quo, we absolutely love the idea of a straight guy who’s comfortable enough with himself to ask his gay best friend to the prom.

2. Two Gay Teen Athletes Share High School Prom Pics, Melt Hearts

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Sticking in prom season for a moment, here’s another post that had our hearts aflutter.

There was a time not too long ago that coming out in high school meant facing certain doom, and now we’re seeing more and more brave students standing up to speak their truth only to find acceptance from their families, friends and communities. And it’s a beautiful thing.

Head here for more impossibly sweet prom photos shared by senior Michael Martin and his boyfriend Logan Westrope.

3. Here’s What It Looked Like When Ireland Said YES To Same-Sex Marriage

While we all waited with anticipation to hear the results of Ireland’s historic vote on same-sex marriage, YouTuber Raymond Braun decided to go the extra mile. The extra thousands of miles, actually.

He flew to Dublin ahead of the vote to see what progress looks like firsthand. Voters in Ireland overwhelmingly chose to change their nation’s constitution, becoming the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.

4. Eleven Years Of Fighting For Marriage Equality Condensed Into Two Glorious Minutes

Following the incredible news that the Supreme Court handed down their ruling in favor of marriage equality, there were media stories covering just about every angle of the monumental victory.

We were nuts about this video from Vox which documents some of the victories along the way:

5. Twitter Overflows With SCOTUS Joy: From Obama To Bomer, Clinton To Chachki

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We also couldn’t help but beam at all the reaction to marriage equality that reverberated across the web. These were some of our faves.

6. A Gay Teacher’s Honesty Just Inspired One Of Her Students To Come Out In A Terribly Moving Letter

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To celebrate Liverpool Pride, 31-year-old teacher Emma Baldry decided it was high time to come out to her pupils, particularly since she’d recently changed her name after entering a civil partnership.

7. Restaurant Owner Shuts Down Homophobe On Facebook, Gets Huge Boost In Business

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A rainbow-filtered profile picture led to a Facebook showdown between a local business owner and a Tea Party activist. We’ll let you guess who the nasty party was.

Despina Kozidis, better known in La Crosse, WI, as Gracie of Gracie’s Gyros and Wraps, knows mixing business and politics isn’t always the best idea for attracting customers.

But Gracie, like countless other straight allies since June, had switched her profile picture to a rainbow filter to show her support for equality. What happened next was incredible.

8. Older Son Blamed By Mom For Spreading Gayness To Teen Brother, So He Adopts Younger Bro

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Losing a child — let alone two — is a horror that no parent should have to face, but in the case of one homophobic mother, the damage is self-inflicted.

A recent Reddit thread caught our attention for its tell-tale signs of the unfortunate reality many LGBTQ kids face growing up.

But this story has a major twist (not to mention happy ending).

9. YouTuber Confronts Childhood Bully To Surprisingly Positive Results

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Riyadh K is no stranger to awkward conversations — he’s chatted with Shirley Phelps, taught his dad sex slang and had his mom read his Grindr messages. But he showed real courage and maturity when he recently confronted his childhood bully.

The two talked about things like why bullying is so common, what could have been done differently and why antigay bullying can be so much more harmful than other childish name-calling.

10. Straight Guy Handles Being Hit On By A Gay Guy Like A True Gentleman 

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The whole “I’m cool with gay guys unless they try and hit on me” line has been ugly and tired since, oh, it was first uttered between sips of bitter beer in a dingy sports bar.

And thankfully things are changing, as evidenced by this anecdote shared by a straight guy from a wedding he attended.

In short, he was sitting alone at the end of the night when a guy came up to him and said, “I just wanted to let you know that I have noticed you all night. I wanted to leave this with you before I left.” He left his number and walked off. Here’s how he handled it…

11. Two Of Brazil’s Biggest Straight Actors Kiss To Show What Manliness Really Looks Like

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Bruno Gagliasso and Joao Vicente de Castro, two of Brazil’s most famous actors, shared a rather long and by the looks of it, wet, kiss on stage at the Brazilian GQ Men of the Year Awards in Rio de Janeiro.

The straight-identifying celebrities say they wanted to make a stand against homophobia and machismo, showing that it’s OK for guys to be openly affectionate towards one another.

12. Watch Everyday People React To Being Called Beautiful

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She didn’t tell her subjects what she was doing until they were already in front of the camera. When she did, the responses she got, she says, were not what she had expected.

“My intentions were not to get a reaction out of people,” teen filmmaker Shea Glover said. “I was simply filming beauty and this is the result. Here it is.”

13. This 12-Year-Old’s Pro-Same-Sex Love Song Will Restore Your Faith In Humanity

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“Allowed to Love.” It’s a short, sweet love song written by a 12-year-old girl named Chance and uploaded to her dad, Eric’s, YouTube channel.

Eric writes: “‘Allowed to Love’ written, recorded, video and edited by my daughter. Written for her uncles, about the belief that we all should be allowed to love whomever we want no matter the gender. From the heart!”

“We all want the same thing,” Chance sings. “We want to have love, no matter who it is. You are allowed to love.”

And that pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?

14. Girl Scouts Donor Said 100k Gift Can’t Be Spent On Trans Girls. The Scouts’ Response Is Perfect

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One hundred thousand dollars represents about a quarter of the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s annual fundraising goal, and could pay to send 500 girls to camp. But after receiving the generous gift, they got this note from the donor: “Please guarantee that our gift will not be used to support transgender girls. If you can’t, please return the money.”

The choice was simple, but that didn’t make it easy. The council leader wrote back saying she’d be returning the money, asserting that, “Girl Scouts is for every girl, and every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to.”

Two days later an Indiegogo campaign to crowdsource the $100k had raised over $255k.