1st: Hayley Kiyoko declares it’s ‘20gayteen’
The so-called “lesbian Jesus” Hayley Kiyoko started the year as she meant to go on, tweeting on New Year’s Day that it was “20gayteen”, encouraging her queer fans to “thrive” and “let their souls feel alive”.
It wound up being a huge year not just for the community, but for Hayley personally, with her much-awaited debut album ‘Expectations’ being met with critical acclaim, as well as winning Push Artist Of The Year at the VMAs over the summer.
3rd: Courtney Act is crowned winner of ‘Celebrity Big Brother’
Undeniably a queer hero to many here in the UK, Courtney won praise during her time in the ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ house for her unique way of explaining important issues like sexuality and gender identity in an accessible, but always unpatronising, ways.
Her patience and strength in the face of occasional ignorance (mostly from fellow housemate Ann Widdecombe) won over the British public, and she wound up being voted the public’s winner by an absolute landslide.
7th: ‘Queer Eye’ debuts on Netflix, and quickly makes a huge splash
It’s hard to imagine it now, but when Netflix first announced that a ‘Queer Eye’ reboot was in the world, there was actually a question about whether or not there was actually a need for the show in 2018.
How wrong we were.
At a time when the world can feel divided and isolating, ‘Queer Eye’ provided a much-needed glimmer of light, and we immediately fell in love with the diverse new Fab Five.
19th: Dustin Lance Black rises above the hate after baby announcement
When Dustin Lance Black and Tom Daley announced they had a child on the way, their fans were understandably thrilled, but that didn’t stop a disappointing number of bigots critics from sharing their negative opinions on a subject that had nothing to do with them.
Fortunately, the screenwriter was able to take the high road, addressing the issue head-on in a simple, but powerful, Instagram post.
Later in the year, he and Tom welcomed their son, Robbie, into the world.
1st: MNEK unveils his song, ‘Tongue’
MNEK returned to the music scene in March with his sexiest track to date, as the lead single to his debut album, ‘Language’, which was released in the summer.
Lyrically, the song sees MNEK toying with dropping the L-word with a guy who’s caught his eye, while the video, which followed a week later, sees the perfectly-manicured singer making eyes at his male love interest, swishing his hair and even serving choreo in a shiny pink playsuit. We stan.
4th: ‘A Fantastic Woman’ wins the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film
‘A Fantastic Woman’ is one of our top films of 2018, and we’d happily have seen it in place of several of the year’s Best Picture nominees, while leading lady Daniela Vega was 100% deserving of a Best Actress nod.
Still, we were happy to see the film, which tells the story of a grieving trans woman in Santiago, Chile, receive the Best Picture prize, while fellow nominee ‘BPM’, another of our films of the year, would also have been a deserving winner.
Daniela made history during the ceremony as the first transgender person to present at the Oscars, introducing Best Original Song nominee ‘Mystery Of Love’, taken from ‘Call Me By Your Name’.
6th: RuPaul apologises to trans community
It’s a sad fact that sometimes the people we respect or admire will let us down, and in those instances, they need to be held to account.
In an interview with The Guardian, RuPaul made a string of controversial comments about who he would allow to partake in ‘Drag Race’, claiming he wouldn’t allow women, cisgender or trans, to appear on the show, as he views drag as an “f-you to male-dominated culture”.
After facing a backlash for his remarks, Ru created even bigger waves when he tweeted: “You can take performance enhancing drugs and still be an athlete, just not in the Olympics.”
He later apologised for what was perceived as “gate-keeping”, tweeting: “I understand and regret the hurt I have caused. The trans community are heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement. You are my teachers.
“In the 10 years we’ve been casting Drag Race, the only thing we’ve ever screened for is charisma uniqueness nerve and talent. And that will never change.”
The upcoming series of ‘All Stars’ will feature Gia Gunn as a competitor, the first time a queen has transitioned since appearing on ‘Drag Race’ and returned as a contestant.
7th: Years & Years begin ‘Palo Santo’ video series with ‘Sanctify’
With Olly Alexander established as one of the UK’s favourite gay pop singers, all eyes were on Years & Years to see what they pulled out of the bag as they debuted their second album.
The band trailed ‘Palo Santo’ with ‘Sanctify’, a song detailing Olly’s sexual relationship with a straight man, while the song’s accompanying music video was the first in a series, portraying a dystopian future where people are made to dance as a form of entertainment for robot overlords.
27th: Janelle Monáe comes out as pansexual
And what a coming out it was too. Speaking to Rolling Stone in April, Janelle declared: “Being a black queer woman in America, someone who has been in relationships with both men and women, I consider myself to be a free-ass motherfucker.”
The interview preceded her latest album, ‘Dirty Computer’, and its accompanying short film, in which she delved deeper into issues like sexuality and race, heavily featuring her rumoured girlfriend Tessa Thompson.
8th: Channel 4′s ‘Genderquake: The Debate’ shows how not to have a conversation about transgender issues
As part of their ‘Genderquake’ series, Channel 4 aired a live debate about issues relating to gender, featuring idealogically-contrasting panellists like activist Munroe Bergdorf, reality star Caitlyn Jenner, feminist critic Germaine Greer and journalist Sarah Dittum.
Unfortunately, what ensued was an increasingly-uncomfortable hour of television, culminating in members of the audience shouting transphobic slurs at the panel, and despite calls from both Munroe and Caitlyn for them to be removed, security ultimately failed to step in.
The debate eventually led hundreds of people to complain to Ofcom.
11th: Rita Ora comes out, after facing backlash over her song ‘Girls’
When Rita Ora unveiled the Charli XCX, Bebe Rexha and Cardi B collaboration ‘Girls’, the chorus of which hears the singer claiming “sometimes I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls, red wine I just wanna kiss girls, girls, girls”, was met with near-immediate controversy.
Many felt that the song trivialised the experiences of queer-identifying women and played up to the “male gaze”, while singer Hayley Kiyoko claimed the track “marginalised the idea of women loving women”.
As the backlash continued, Rita spoke out to reveal that ‘Girls’ was written “to represent her truth”, while revealing that she identifies as “LGBTQ+”.
“I would never intentionally cause harm to other LGBTQ+ people or anyone,” she wrote. “Looking forward, I hope that continuing to express myself through my art will empower my fans to feel as proud of themselves as I’m learning to feel about who I am.”
12th: Irish Eurovision entrant shows support for LGBT community, despite Chinese censorship
Irish singer Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s Eurovision performance featured a pair of male dancers, who enacted a love story while he sang his melancholic ballad, ‘Together’.
While his staging was largely welcomed by Eurovision fans, it did not go down well in China, where his semi-final performance was censored.
In response to this, Eurovision ended their agreement with the Chinese network that usually shows the annual final, with the EBU (European Broadcasting Union) telling the New York Times that the censorship was “not in line with the EBU’s values of universality and inclusivity and our proud tradition of celebrating diversity through music”.
At the end of his performance in the live final, Ryan delivered a simple message of solidarity with the LGBT+ community, saying simply: “Love is love.”
3rd: ‘Pose’ debuts in the US
Unquestionably one of our TV highlights of 2018, ‘Pose’ shone a light on the 1980s ballroom scene previously explored in the critically-acclaimed documentary ‘Paris Is Burning’, the legacy of which lives on in shows like ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’.
‘Pose’ made TV history thanks to its hugely diverse cast, which included more than 50 transgender characters, all of whom are played by trans actors, while showing both the serious competitive side of the ball scene as well as kinship and solidarity between the members of each house.
It also touches on important themes of that period which are still prevalent today, including hate crime, the HIV/AIDS crisis, homelessness among LGBT+ people and, of course, love in all its forms.
While some early fans of the show feared the ratings might be too low to warrant a follow-up series, it’s since been confirmed that a second part is coming in 2019.
20th: Hannah Gadsby’s ‘Nanette’ begins streaming on Netflix, and quickly garners attention
Stand-up specials debut on Netlix all the time, but few lead to as much conversation as Hannah Gadsby’s personal monologue, ‘Nanette’.
Beginning as a fairly standard stand-up routine about introversion and her experiences as a lesbian woman, things take a far more serious turn as she continues, eventually sparking conversations about gender identity, misogyny and sexual abuse.
It’s not always a comfortable watch, but ‘Nanette’ is vital viewing, with Hannah – who declares near the beginning of her performance that she’s giving up comedy – definitely a one to watch in 2019.
22nd: The ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ reunion special sparks important conversations
Anyone who’s been watching ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ since its early years will know the show has become so much more than a competition about wigs and high heels.
Now adored all over the world, the show has become a platform to comment on important issues within the queer community, from body image and bullying to sexual assault and HIV awareness.
Unfortunately, the series 10 reunion episode was among the show’s more uncomfortable moments, but still managed to spark important discussions in the fan community about racism, particularly in relation to the way The Vixen was portrayed during her time on the show.
After saying her piece, The Vixen chose to walk away mid-reunion, while Asia O’Hara did what so many would never dare to, and challenged RuPaul about why she’d allowed it to happen.
In a polarising speech, Ru declared: “Look at me, goddammit. I come from the same goddamn place that she comes from. And here I am. You see me walking out? No... I fucking learned how to act around people, and how to deal with shit. I’m not fucking walking out and saying ‘fuck all of y’all’. That’s disrespectful!
“Let me tell you something, I have been discriminated against by white people because I’m black, by black people because I’m gay and by gay people for being too femme. Did I let that stop me? No.”
The Vixen later returned for the show’s final episode, but both she and Asia have since gone on to speak about how she feels black contestants are treated differently when they take part in ‘Drag Race’.
5th: Christine And The Queens introduce the world to Chris
French singer/songwriter Héloïse Letissier won critical acclaim with her debut album in 2014, under the moniker Christine And The Queens.
In a David Bowie-esque move, her second album saw her introduce a second, more masculine, alter-ego, with the shortened name Chris, which was also the title of the album.
“Every morning, we choose a way to perform our identity,” she told Billboard. “By being a woman differently, I can be a sign that it’s all a construction. I’m trying to be freer myself so [I can] give a hint of freedom to someone else.”
Similarly, she told WWD: “I feel like sometimes women are still made to choose and refuse some kind of complexity or multifaceted character that sometimes men have naturally.
″[On Chris] I kind of wanted to address the contradictions. I wanted to resist branding, if that means anything. And if it’s too tiring then well, I’m not going to make it easy either. Because as a woman, a feminist and a queer woman, I kind of need complexity and I need nuances and I want them.”
6th: Brendon Urie comes out as pansexual
Speaking to Paper magazine about how he identifies sexually, the Panic! At The Disco frontman said: “I’m married to a woman and I’m very much in love with her but I’m not opposed to a man because to me, I like a person.
“Yeah, I guess you could qualify me as pansexual because I really don’t care. If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart’s in the right place. I’m definitely attracted to men. It’s just people that I am attracted to.”
4th: Britney Spears puts Brighton Pride to work, bitch
In what must surely be the most A-list guest a UK Pride has ever bagged as a headline performance, Britney Spears took to the stage in Brighton to close the show after what was a jam-packed day of Pride fun.
The performance itself was... well, it was Britney Spears, draw your own conclusions, but everybody had a good time regardless (until it was time to get the train home, that is).
We can’t wait to see how they top Britney in 2019, but don’t think we haven’t noticed that gap in Kylie Minogue’s summer tour dates...
13th: Disney takes a huge step forward (and a bit of a step back)
Over the summer, it was revealed that Disney was planning to feature its first ever openly gay character in the upcoming big screen adaptation of the theme park attraction ‘Jungle Cruise’, which was well-received among LGBT+ fans of the franchise.
Less well-received was the news that the character was to be played by Jack Whitehall, with many questioning why an LGBT+ actor couldn’t have been cast in the role, particularly after it was suggested that the British comedian would be playing up to certain tropes and stereotypes in the film.
This led to a debate in the community about whether it was truly necessary for LGBT+ characters to be played by actors who identify as such. Many concluding that while it was exciting that there would be some gay representation in a family film, it would have been even better if the role had gone to someone from within the community.
31st: Troye Sivan hones in on queer romance and sex on ‘Bloom’
While many latched onto the fact that the titular song from Troye Sivan’s ‘Bloom’ deals, fairly graphically, with anal sex between two men, what was often forgotten was how much of the song also dealt with themes of sensuality and romance, beyond the obvious “blooming” metaphor.
These ideas were all over Troye’s sophomore album, one of the year’s most highly anticipated queer releases, which finally arrived at the end of August.
While opener ‘Seventeen’ sees him exploring hook-up apps like Grindr and the sexual encounters he had in his youth, tracks like ‘Animal’ are more traditional love song, which blur the line between love and sex in a way rarely heard in queer art.
31st: Eminem gets dragged for his use of tired homophobic slurs
Unfortunately, what should have been a celebratory release day for Troye Sivan was overlooked by the surprise arrival of Eminem’s 10th studio album, ‘Kamikaze’.
To make matters even worse, the rapper swiftly came under fire for the song ‘Sway’, in which he says of rapper Tyler The Creator: “I see why you called yourself a f****t bitch, it’s not just ’cause you lack attention, it’s because you worship D12’s balls, you’re sacrilegious.”
Tyler - whose lyrics on ‘Flower Boy’ are considered by most fans to be his way of coming out as LGBT+ - has never responded to Eminem, who has since conceded he went “too far” on the track.
He said: “In my quest to hurt him, I realise that I was hurting a lot of other people by saying it.”
Eminem has come under fire numerous times throughout his career for his use of homophobic slurs, while on ‘Fall’, the word is censored, but still audible.
3rd: ‘Neighbours’ features its first ever same-sex wedding
Nine months after marriage equality was legalised in Australia, ‘Neighbours’ celebrated with its first ever wedding between two men, with David and Aaron - or “Daaron” as they’ve become affectionately - known by fans.
While soaps here in Britain have frequently been at the forefront of showcasing LGBT+ issues, it was encouraging to see the shows we know and love from Down Under celebrating same-sex love, with this important step in terms of representation no doubt meaning a lot to fans of the show within the community.
4th: Sam Smith honours the LGBT+ community with ‘Promises’ music video
Sam Smith was just 22 when he released his debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’, and it’s fair to say that in his quest to navigate the world as a young, high-profile gay man, the singer hasn’t always got it right.
During the promotion for his sophomore album last year, Sam spoke about this struggle to be the right kind of gay man in the public eye, but in the last 12 months, it felt like he was finally starting to feel at ease. It showed when he declared himself a “dick monster” while chatting to Patti LaBelle, it showed when he spoke more eloquently than ever about issues relating to the community, and it showed whenever he shared a flamboyant photo or video of himself strutting around in high heels.
The music video for his chart-topping Calvin Harris collaboration ‘Promises’ is probably the most explicitly and joyfully queer offering of his career, paying homage to the gay ballroom scene and dancing up a storm.
7th: ‘The Miseducation Of Cameron Post’ explores conversion therapy
Part ‘Lady Bird’, part ‘Girl, Interrupted’, ‘The Miseducation Of Cameron Post’ tells the story of the titular teenager, who finds herself put in conversion therapy in the early 2000s when she’s discovered to have had sex with one of her female schoolmates.
As well as shining a light on an important queer issue, and one that unfortunately still affects many people, even in 2018, lead star Chloe Grace Moretz has also expressed her happiness at being in an LGBT+ film where the characters who identify as such are portrayed by actors who do too.
17th: ‘American Crime Story’ cleans up at the Emmys
‘The Assassination Of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story’ was among the big winners at the 2018 Emmys, taking home three of the awards it was nominated for (it was beaten only by Amazon’s ‘The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’, which won five).
The show won critical acclaim not just thanks to its incredible writing, stunning aesthetics and powerful acting, but also its portrayal of LGTB+ themes, which despite the 90s setting, still felt poignant even 20 years on.
30th: Strictly’s “same-sex routine” gets a mixed response
While the conversation about whether the BBC will ever have a same-sex pair competing in ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ rages on, the show did make a stride towards progress in its most recent series.
During one group number, a portion of the dance saw the male and female dancers performing a one-on-one routine with members of the same sex.
While this move was applauded by some fans, others felt it was an inadequate way of skirting a controversial issue, and insufficient when so many still want to see either two men or two women in the main contest.
9th: Cameron Cole comes out as gay in the ‘Big Brother’ house
We’ve written before about how reality TV has been at responsible for introducing LGBT+ people and issues to a more mainstream audience, so it felt fitting that in the final series of ‘Big Brother’, there were a moment as touching as this one.
At just 18, Cameron received a unanimously positive and warm reception from his housemates when he chose to disclose his sexuality to them for the first time.
The public was clearly won over, too, and when the final rolled around, it was Cameron who was crowned viewers’ last-ever winner on Channel 5.
14th: ‘Butterfly’ debuts on ITV
In 2018, the conversation around transgender issues has increased even further, and while of course raising awareness of queer subjects is ultimately a good thing, this has allowed certain portions of the media to ramp up scare-mongering and misinformation around an important and sensitive issue.
ITV began showing ‘Butterfly’ in October, telling the story of the divorced parents of a transgender teenager, and how they navigate the issue together.
The show worked closely with the organisation Mermaids, to ensure the topic was handled both sensitively and accurately, to best educate viewers about a subject that viewers see and hear a lot about in the likes of ‘Good Morning Britain’ debates and certain newspaper columns, but don’t always get the chance to process or learn about properly.
25th: ‘The Bi Life’ introduces a whole new kind of dating show
With popular dating shows like ‘Love Island’ and ‘Take Me Out’ almost boastful in their heteronormative formats, newly-crowned ‘CBB’ winner Courtney Act clearly felt it was time to take matters into her own hands.
Rounding up a load of young people who she says identify as neither 100% straight nor gay, Courtney walked the new contestants through what was billed as a “dating adventure they’ll never forget”. It saw them navigating their own sexualities and looking for love in Barcelona, without any strict rules about gender pairs enforced by other dating shows.
28th: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ tops the UK box office
The life of one of the most important LGBT+ pop culture figures of the 20th century, Freddie Mercury, was explored in the biopic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, with leading actor Rami Malek winning critical acclaim for his portrayal of the Queen frontman.
While the film initially came under fire for its failure to address Freddie’s HIV status and same-sex relationships, this criticism was based solely on the initial trailer.
After the film finally hit cinemas, it was revealed that Freddie’s romantic relationships with both men and women are documented, as is the scene in which he first discovers he has HIV, and breaks the news to his bandmates.
10th: John Bishop goes viral with speech about his LGBT+ allyship
Earlier in 2018, comedian John Bishop was named Ally Of The Year at the British LGBT Awards, and during the ceremony, received a standing ovation for a speech in which he showed his support for his son, who is gay.
Speaking about it later on ‘The Jonathan Ross Show’, he said: “I suppose it was an opportunity to say ‘I kind of know a little bit more than you think I know, and I’ve kind of experienced a little bit more than you think’.
“Having a gay son is just like having a son. Of the top 10 things that I even think about him, being gay’s not even on there. He’s just another son.”
He continued: “I wanted to reach out, because I’ve learned more since I’ve talked more openly with my son, to the kids who are 10 and 11, in the playground who are standing on their own, who don’t know where they belong and what group they belong in, so they try to play up to something or feel isolated. And to their parents who think ‘I don’t know, my son doesn’t want to play football, he doesn’t fit in’, it’s OK.
“Just love them for who they are, and allow them to feel safe. And then those little digs and those little knocks and the little abuse that subtilely get that we don’t know about... perhaps won’t penetrate as deep.”
26th: Shawn Mendes shares his thoughts on “gay” rumours
Since his rise to fame in the last few years, there have been plenty of jokes and memes about Shawn Mendes, which have suggested that he’s secretly gay, and hiding his sexuality.
Shawn – who has previously clarified he identifies as straight – admitted in a Rolling Stone interview in November that the ongoing jokes had begun to take their toll, saying: “I’d like to say I don’t care about it, but that’s not true.
“In the back of my heart, I feel like I need to go be seen with someone — like a girl — in public, to prove to people that I’m not gay. Even though in my heart I know that it’s not a bad thing. There’s still a piece of me that thinks that. And I hate that side of me.”
An unfortunate reminder that homophobia is still prevalent on social media, including incidents aimed at people who don’t even identify as gay.
5th: RuPaul confirms that a British version of ‘Drag Race’ is coming in 2019
The moment that British ‘Drag Race’ fans have been waiting literal years for finally came towards the end of the year, with RuPaul confirming that a UK version of the show is officially in the works.
Both Ru and Michelle Visage will be returning as panellists (other judges are yet to be revealed), with producers currently on the lookout for 10 British queens to compete in the show, which will air on BBC Three.
6th: Shane McGowan weighs in on ‘Fairytale Of New York’ censorship
It’s become almost as much of a festive tradition as the song itself – every year a debate rages on about whether the homophobic and sexist slurs in The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl’s ‘Fairytale Of New York’ should be censored on the radio.
As irritated parties on both sides continued to vent on the divisive issue (though, really, should it be divisive? Should people be subjected to homophobic langauge every time they switch the radio on just in the name of festive cheer?), Pogues frontman Shane McGowan spoke out on the issue.
Beginning by attempting to explain why the slurs were included in the lyrics in the first place, he later conceded: “If people don’t understand that I was trying to accurately portray the character as authentically as possible then I am absolutely fine with them bleeping the word but I don’t want to get into an argument.”
People who have covered the song in 2018 have been inventive to avoid controversy, with national treasure Jane McDonald replacing the slur with “wazzock”.
7th: Kevin Hart steps down from Academy Awards hosting gig after homophobic tweets are unearthed
No sooner was Kevin Hart announced as the host of the 2019 Oscars than he revealed he was leaving the gig, due to controversy over past tweets of his in which he used homophobic language.
Though he initially refused to apologise for his comments in 2010, he later said sorry “to the LGBTQ community for his insensitive words from his past”, as he explained he would no longer be going ahead with the job as he didn’t want to be a “distraction”.
18th: Ellen DeGeneres’ stand-up show debuts on Netflix
We now know her best now as an A-list TV presenter (and, of course, as the voice of Disney’s Dory), but Ellen originally cut her teeth as a stand-up comic, and towards the end of 2018, she made it her mission to remind everyone of this.
The stand-up special was full of Ellen’s usual mix of observational humour and personal anecdotes, relating to both her A-list lifestyle and her home life with wife Portia De Rossi.