It wasn’t all gloom and doom! While it’s easy to only associate 2020 with the outbreak of Covid-19 and a spate of hate crimes, here’s a look back on some of the year’s most prominent positive LGBTQ highlights.
Both in pop culture and on the wider world stage, LGBTQ+ rights and equality have made strides this year, despite the extra challenges our community has also faced in the wake of the coronavirus.
Here are some of 2020’s most exciting and positive LGBTQ+ moments.
1. ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ features first-ever same-sex celeb couple
The BBC One show Strictly Come Dancing made history by featuring the first celebrity same-sex couple on the show when the Olympic boxer Nicola Adams was paired with dancer Katya Jones in its 18th series, also garnering its best opening ratings in three years, with an estimated 8.6 million viewers tuning in. Adams identifies as a lesbian, and is currently dating Ella Baig, a model.
2. Elliot Page comes out as trans
In what is certainly one of the biggest LGBT moments of the year, Juno and The Umbrella Academy star Elliot Page came out as trans on 1 December. In a statement posted to the actor’s social media profiles, he wrote, “I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive. To all the trans people who deal with harassment, self-loathing, abuse, and the threat of violence every day: I see you, I love you, and I will do everything I can to change this world for the better.” The announcement was widely hailed, and is sure to be a defining moment for the global trans community in terms of mainstream representation.
3. Pixar’s ‘Out’ is released
Released on Disney+ on 22 May this year, Pixar Animation Studios’ Out is the first Disney and Pixar short to feature a gay main character, storyline and on-screen same-sex kiss. As the film’s title suggests, this is a story about the challenges of coming out, especially to one’s parents.
4. Pope Francis endorses same-sex unions
In a first for the Catholic Church, the current Pope Francis endorsed same-sex civil unions when interviewed for a documentary that was released in October this year. Halfway through Francesco, Pope Francis remarks that, “(h)omosexual people have the right to be in a family. They are children of God. What we have to have is a civil union law; that way they are legally covered,” marking the first time a sitting pontiff has shown any type of support for same-sex unions.
5. The Civil Union Amendment Bill became law
After years of unhappiness that the Civil Union Act allowed Home Affairs officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples, South Africa’s LGBTQ community finally had something to celebrate. In October, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Civil Union Amendment Bill into law. This will hopefully ensure that queer couples are given equal services by the state and that they no longer face the indignity, humiliation and inconvenience of this discrimination.
6. Same-sex sexuality became legal in more countries
In June, lawmakers in Gabon voted to reverse one-year-old legislation that outlawed homosexuality, in Angola, the country’s new Penal Code – which ended a 134-year-old colonial-era ban on homosexuality – was formally published in November, and, in December, Bhutan’s parliament moved to legalise homosexuality (although this has yet to be formally approved by the nation’s king). While these developments will not erase bigotry in these countries (and the 69 others that still criminalise homosexuality) overnight, they are powerful steps forward for the global push for decriminalisation and equality for our community.
7. Global Pride 2020
While we can’t wait to walk shoulder to shoulder with our queer brothers and sisters in Pride parades again, this year’s online Global Pride event made for a worldwide celebration unlike anything we’ve seen before. The event, which was livestreamed globally on 27 June, reached more than 57 million people and featured some of the most notable queer celebrities and a host of other participants, including now-president-elect Joe Biden.