From an attempted coup to a global pandemic that refuses to end (*Omicron enters the chat*), 2021 has been a year many would prefer to forget. But that doesn’t mean there was nothing to cheer about, including in the world of queer pop culture. In fact, in that sense this year has been pretty spectacular. And since we’d much rather focus on that as 2021 comes to a close, let’s take a look at some of the pleasant distractions that helped get us through it all…
Everything Lil Nas X
— GQ Magazine (@GQMagazine) November 15, 2021
Lil Nas X hands down won 2021. There’s no doubt. From releasing his debut full-length album, the brilliant “Montero,” to stirring up all manner of controversy with the release of the Satan shoes, and his perfect clapbacks to his countless trolls, he showed he’s here to stay whether you like it or not. We already can’t wait to see what he does in 2022.
Gottmik makes “RuPaul’s Drag Race” history as first trans male contestant
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” fans have been calling for more trans inclusion on the show for years, and this year they got it, as Gottmik became the first ever trans man to compete on the famous franchise. Not only that, Gottmik performed well, making it to the top four and becoming a fast fan favorite.
JoJo Siwa comes out as pansexual
JoJo Siwa, who first came to prominence for appearing on two seasons of the show “Dance Moms” and who has amassed a large social media following, came out this year as pansexual. The singer/dancer/YouTube personality dropped hints at the beginning of the year, and by April had officially come out as pan. Since we know that queer youths could always use more similarly aged role models to look up to, the then-17-year-old’s announcement was seen as a particularly big deal. It also brought the term pansexual, which means someone who is attracted to people of all genders, to broader recognition, with outlets like Today publishing articles explaining the orientation.
The Olympics sets record for LGBTQ representation
— Team USA (@TeamUSA) September 5, 2021
We’ve seen our fair share of queer Olympians by now, but this year set a new standard, with over 180–yes, 180!–out athletes at the Tokyo Olympics. The summer games were positively chock full of LGBTQ competitors, so much so that it totaled more than all the previous Summer Olympics combined. How cool is that?
Carl Nassib becomes the first active NFL player to come out
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Speaking of LGBTQ athletes, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib became the first member of an active NFL roster to come out as gay in August.
“I just want to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest. I really have the best life, I’ve got the best family, friends and job a guy could ask for,” he said on Instagram.
He has since said he has gotten a lot of support from his teammates since coming out and that he feels better after making the big announcement, which should give encouragement to any fellow gay athletes considering coming out.
Billy Porter comes out as HIV-positive
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 19, 2021
The actor and gay icon came out as HIV-positive in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, some 14 years after being diagnosed. Porter said that he was silenced by feelings of shame but felt it was time to come out about his diagnosis, while holding his head high.
“Yes, I am the statistic, but I’ve transcended it,” the “Pose” star shared. “This is what HIV-positive looks like now. I’m going to die from something else before I die from that…It’s not the only thing I am. I’m so much more than that diagnosis.”
Demi Lovato comes out as nonbinary
Every day we wake up, we are given another opportunity & chance to be who we want & wish to be. I’ve spent the majority of my life growing in front of all of you… you’ve seen the good, the bad, & everything in between. pic.twitter.com/HSBcfmNruo
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) May 19, 2021
Demi Lovato also came out this year, announcing they are nonbinary in a video posted to Twitter back in May.
“Over the past year and a half I have I’ve been doing some healing and self-reflective work, and through this work I’ve had the revelation that I identify as nonbinary. With that said, I’ll officially be changing my pronouns to they/them,” the performer said.
“I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression, and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and still am discovering.”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” crowns first trans winner
All hail our reigning Queen! ? #AllStars6
— RuPaul's Drag Race (@RuPaulsDragRace) September 21, 2021
Even more “RuPaul’s Drag Race” history was made in early September when Kylie Sonique Love became the first out trans person to be crowned the winner. Love won her spot in the “Drag Race Hall of Fame,” along with $100,000, after beating out fellow finalists Eureka, Ginger Minj and Ra’jah O’Hara on the sixth season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.”
New Superman comes out as bi
bisexual superman and his pink haired socialist bf pic.twitter.com/1WlhnM5l46
— matt (@mattxiv) December 7, 2021
This year also saw the new Superman, Jon Kent, son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, coming out as bisexual. The revelation came with the fifth issue of the DC comic series “Superman: Son of Kal-El,” wherein Superman falls for reporter Jay Nakamura. And we think you’ll agree, they make for a cute couple.
Britney Spears was finally freed
Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy ??? !!! I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen ?????? ???? #FreedBritney
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) November 12, 2021
Were it not for Britney Spears, most people would likely be unfamiliar with the term “conservatorship.” Spears, who for 13 years was placed under the restrictive arrangement, which kept her from getting to make her own personal, professional, and financial decisions, was finally released from the court-ordered oversight in November. She thanked her fans for fighting for her, as part of the #FreeBritney movement, sharing a video on Twitter of a celebration that took place when the news hit. “Good God I love my fans so much!!!” she said. “I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day!!!”