Uplifting moments from the LGBTQ+ community in 2020

It has been a difficult year for everyone, but for people within the LGBTQ+ community the past 12 months have also provided some moments of joy.

From changes to the law, to happy moments during lockdown, here are some of the highlights of 2020.

– Northern Ireland held its first same-sex marriages in February

Same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland has been legal since January of this year, with Belfast couple Robyn Edwards-Peoples and Sharni Edwards-Peoples becoming the first same-sex couple in Northern Ireland to legally marry under the new law on February 11.

“We fought so long and hard for this opportunity to be seen as equal and now we are here and it’s just amazing,” Robyn Edwards-Peoples said at her wedding.

– The release of Queer Eye’s fifth series brought joy during lockdown

Queer Eye’s Fab Five came to Netflix in June, bringing with it some much-needed laughter and LGBTQ+ delight during the third month of coronavirus restrictions in the UK.

The show’s fifth series, giving makeovers all over the city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was an instant hit. And more good news for fans: it has been renewed for a sixth series, which will be set in Texas.

– The UK’s first Pride Train staffed with an LGBTQ+ fleet made its inaugural journey

The UK’s first fully decorated Pride train made its inaugural journey in August, staffed by an LGBTQ+ crew.

The biggest Pride flag reportedly seen in the UK travelled from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly, with train manager Paul Austin saying the decision was a “sign of the steps we’re taking towards a more inclusive, diverse and equal society”.

The train was covered in the traditional Pride rainbow colours, with the addition of black and brown to symbolise BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) inclusion, as well as the colours of the transgender flag.

“This is about being accepted for who I am and representing the LGBT+ community we serve across our network,” Mr Austin said.

– The internet made up for cancelled Pride events

Despite June being spent mostly indoors, and usually busy London and Brighton Pride events being cancelled, many of the community took the celebrations online.

Social media was awash with GIFs celebrating the community and making light of the pandemic.

And with parades and in-person parties cancelled across the country, plenty of bars, charities and groups found creative means to celebrate online.

Several groups, including the troupe Mariah & Friendz, performed livestreamed drag shows, while the Royal Museums Greenwich put on a Pride Inside event, featuring performers and a virtual parade.

London LGBTQ+ bar the Royal Vauxhall Tavern has also hosted several online events throughout the year, proving that Pride celebrations can thrive virtually.

– Elliot Page came out as transgender, inspiring many others

The Umbrella Academy and Juno actor Elliot Page came out as transgender in December of this year.

Writing on social media, Page, 33, said his pronouns are “he/they”, adding: “I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”

Nick Adams, Glaad’s director of transgender media, said: “Elliot Page has given us fantastic characters on-screen, and has been an outspoken advocate for all LGBTQ people.

“He will now be an inspiration to countless trans and non-binary people. All transgender people deserve the chance to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are. We celebrate the remarkable Elliot Page today.”

– New rules came into force making it easier for gay and bisexual men to donate blood

A relaxation of rules which prevented some gay and bisexual men from donating blood was welcomed by campaigners this December.

Men who have sex with men (MSM) in a long-term relationship will be able to give blood from next summer, NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT) said.

Under previous rules, all MSM had to abstain from sex for three months to donate.

Su Brailsford, associate medical director at NHSBT, said: “Patients rely on the generosity and altruism of donors for their life-saving blood.

“We are proud to have the safest blood supply in the world and I’m pleased to have concluded that these new changes to donor selection will keep blood just as safe.”

– A transgender man starred in a fundraising Starbucks advert

Starbucks was praised for its advert featuring a transgender man, which was launched in January in support of trans youth charity Mermaids.

The advert depicted a young man struggling with being called his “deadname” (the name he was given at birth), before going to the coffee shop and asking for a drink for James.

Announcing the advert on January 31, Starbucks said: “We were moved to discover that individuals find our stores a safe space to try out their new names when transitioning.

“Starbucks’ #whatsyourname campaign celebrates this signature act and the significance it can have for some transgender and gender diverse people as they use their new name in public.”

– ‘Rainbow wave’ at US election sees several transgender and non-binary candidates elected 

In November’s US elections, Delaware Democrat Sarah McBride made history as the country’s first transgender state senator.

Following her win, Ms McBride said on Twitter: “To anyone who worries that their truth and their dreams are mutually exclusive, know that change is possible. Know that your voice matters. Know that you can do this, too.

“I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.”

Mauree Turner also broke a US record, becoming the first out non-binary person elected to a state legislature anywhere in the US, winning their race to the Oklahoma state house.

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