By Kate Southwood
This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 7 of VARSITY.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the last eight months, let me enlighten you. The last few years have been a rollercoaster ride. As much as there has been global progress in the acceptance of those in the LGBTQIA+ community, it’s like every step forward has at least two steps backwards.
At the beginning of this year, Lesbian Jesus (Hayley Kiyoko) dubbed 2018 as “#20GayTeen”, the goal of which was for all those who identify as members of the LGBTQIA+ community to band together and celebrate their victories.
— Hayley Kiyoko (@HayleyKiyoko) January 1, 2018
With two thirds of the year already over, let’s reflect on some of the highlights of #20GayTeen so far:
The Music Industry
For so many years, at any given time we only had one (maybe two) openly non-cishet artists with hits. However, this year the influence of the LGBTQIA+ community on the music industry has been noticeable, to say the least. To name a few, we’ve had top hits from Troye Sivan, Sam Smith, Janelle Monae, and Halsey. And let’s not forget, Hayley Kiyoko’s entire album Expectations, in which she unapologetically sings about her experiences of love and relationships as a queer womxn.
Series and Films
Series and films have also upped their game this past year. Having one gay character per show used to be the standard. Usually, that gay character would also fit at least one offensive stereotype. Now, we have several stories which feature a range of queer characters, none of whom are defined by their queerness.
SERIES WITH LGBTQIA+ NARRATIVES
- Brooklyn Nine-Nine S6 – Cancelled and renewed within 24 hours, the show with our favourite gay police captain, and recently-out bisexual detective lives to see another season.
- One Day at a Time – We were with Elena when she came to terms with her sexuality, when she navigated telling her conservative family, and when she found love, and luckily, we get to watch her grow for another season.
— One Day at a Time (@OneDayAtATime) June 6, 2018
- Pose – A revolutionary drama series with the highest number of transgender actors in a single show in history. Set in 1987, the series gives us a peak into the highs and lows of New York society.
— PoseFX (@PoseOnFX) August 20, 2018
- Queer Eye – The Fab Five (Jonathan, Tan, Bobby, Karamo and Antoni) give both physical and emotional makeovers to those who need it, particularly in breaking down toxic masculinity. Lots of laughs, lots of tears. Brace yourself.
You, and only you, are in control of your own life! Shape it how you want! ? pic.twitter.com/7TiL3YMXuH
— Queer Eye (@QueerEye) July 13, 2018
- Black Lightning – A black lesbian superhero, a feat for representation that we never thought we’d get, but now happily celebrate.
— Black Lightning (@blacklightning) July 13, 2018
- Will and Grace, Season 9 – an oldie but a goldie, the iconic show was rebooted to give us a ninth season, set in Trump’s America.
I SAID STAN TWITTER DO YOU KNOW THIS SONG pic.twitter.com/heb4GkBdqw
— Will & Grace (@WillAndGrace) August 22, 2018
MOVIES WITH LGBTQIA+ NARRATIVES THAT DON’T MAKE US CRINGE
- Inxeba (The Wound) – South Africa’s most successful film to date, making the shortlist for an Academy Award at the 2018 Oscars. The controversial film explores themes of a doomed romance between two men in the setting of the traditional isiXhosa rites of passage for men.
- Love, Simon – It’s just like every other rom-com, but with a gay character in the lead. It’s refreshing, to say the least.
— Love, Simon (@lovesimonmovie) June 25, 2018
- Alex Strangelove – The story of Alex Truelove (yes, that’s his real name), who struggles to come to terms with his sexuality after he meets Elliot, and struggles with what that means for his current relationship.
- Call Me By Your Name – Its success at the Oscars really drew attention to the coming-of-age love story between Elio and Oliver.
— Call Me By Your Name (@CMBYNFilm) June 1, 2018
Another victory has been all the celebrities who have come out as members of the LGBTQIA+ community. Real-life representation is almost more important that representation in series and films, because these celebrity role models continually encourage people to live their truest selves.
Celebs who have come out as members of the LGBTQIA+ community
- Alyson Stoner
- Teddy Geiger
- Janelle Monae
- Brendan Urie
- Abbi Jacobson
This list has been long, and it’s not even complete! #20gayteen has been so successful, and the progress made this year really highlights that the times are changing. To anyone who identifies as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, here’s to a good last third of #20gayteen.
20gayteen is truly something else pic.twitter.com/SL9bM2IKuL
— tyler oakley (@tyleroakley) August 11, 2018