21 standout queer moments from pop culture in 2019

20 December 2019, 16:42

21 queer moments that made 2019 iconic
21 queer moments that made 2019 iconic. Picture: HBO, Columbia Records, FX

By Sam Prance

Just a few of the biggest LGBTQIA+ moments that made 2019 a year to remember.

2019 is almost over and it's been an incredible year for pop culture. However, pop culture would be nothing without its queer forebearers and there have been plenty of LGBTQIA+ icons making moves and history this year. 2019 had big shoes to fill after 20GayTeen but she really came through with the queer goods.

With that in mind, we've cast our minds all the way back to the cold winter days of January and picked out just a few of the biggest queer moments that made 2019 so special. In no particular order...

1. Lil Nas X released one of the most successful songs of all time and then came out.

Lil Nas X really did THAT this year. Not only did he top the charts with his 'Old Town Road Remix (feat. Billy Ray Cyrus)' but it also went on to sell over 10 million copies in the US alone and it broke Mariah Carey's (!) record for the most weeks spent on top of the Hot 100 (19 weeks). Following his rapid rise to fame, Lil Nas X publicly came out in a succinct and beautiful tweet.

2. Sam Smith came out as non-binary and shut down trolls flawlessly.

Not only did Sam Smith release some of the best music of their career this year but, in September, they publicly came out as non-binary. Taking to social media, Sam stated: "I’ve decided I am changing my pronouns to THEY/THEM. After a lifetime of being at war with my gender, I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out..."

Later in the year when a troll called Sam "batty boy", they clapped back: "batty them". We have no choice but to stan.

3. Cheryl and Toni had their first sex scene in Riverdale.

Riverdale viewers have long been waiting for the series' queer couples to get the same amount of screen time and character development as their straight counterparts. Unfortunately, the teen drama still has a lot of work to do in that department but they did come through this year by giving Choni the first (!) LGBTQIA+ sex scene of the series.

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4. Papi and Angel got engaged in Pose.

It's still extremely rare to see trans people in loving, healthy relationships on television but Pose is changing that. In season 2 of the hit show, Papi and Angel start dating and it's adorable to see their relationship blossom. Papi is mesmerised by Angel and they're so in love that they propose to each other in the season finale. BRB watching this scene on repeat.

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5. Ryan O'Connell wrote and starred in his own Netflix show.

Talking to Variety this year, Ryan O'Connell said: "Getting the show made has been a fucking journey. This might shock you, but putting a gay disabled lead on TV isn’t an instant sell.” Ryan has cerebral palsy and Special is loosely based on his life. He wrote and starred in it and the Netflix series has received critical acclaim for its heartbreaking honesty and humour.

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6. Hunter Schafer became one of the breakout stars of 2019.

Pre 2019 Hunter Schafer was best known for being a model. Cut to now and she's still killing it on the runway but she's also wowing audiences as an actress. Hunter played Jules in Euphoria, a trans teen who Rue (Zendaya) falls in love with. Hunter is trans irl and seeing her flourish on and off-screen has been a joy to watch all year long. Plus she's an amazing activist.

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7. Captain Marvel and Valkyrie fanfiction went viral and Brie Larsson and Tessa Thomspon were living for it.

Marvel films have pretty poor form when it comes to LGBTQIA+ representation. That being said, we now know that Valkyrie is bisexual and fans have started theorising that she and Captain Marvel may end up together. In fact, they've even made fanfiction about it and Brie Larsson and Tessa Thompson made dreams come true this year by revealing they ship it too.

8. Bowen Yang made Saturday Night Live history.

Saturday Night Live has provided us with many hilarious skits over the years but the long-running, live comedy show is often called out for its lack of diversity. In September, Bowen Yang became SNL's first Chinese-American cast member and the third openly-gay cast member in the show's 44 seasons. He's been stealing the show every episode since he joined.

9. King Princess released a song about bottoming.

We knew that 'Hit the Back' would be amazing as soon as King Princess teased that she wrote it as an "anthem for bottoms everywhere”. True to her word, it is just that. It's literally about loving someone so much that you let them top you. What we weren't prepared for is how timeless and nostalgic it feels. Subtle yet also majestic. Bottoming never sounded so good.

10. MNEK got real about queer-dating in his 'Girlfriend' video.

In the queer community, it can be pretty common to date people in the closet. Everyone's circumstances are different and it's not as easy for some people to come out as it is for others. However, this can sometimes mean that people in straight relationships date queer people on the DL and people get messed around.

MNEK addresses this in the 'Girlfriend' video and it is equal parts hilarious and iconic.

11. Angelica Ross became the first female trans actress to land two series regular roles on television.

Between running TransTech Social Enterprises (a non-profit which helps provide trans people with vital workplace skills) and playing Candy on Pose (one of our fave characters), Angelica's achievements were already huge going into 2019. However, her latest role as Donna on AHS:1984 made her the first female trans actress to secure two series regular roles on TV.

Donna and Candy made us laugh and cry this year and we can't wait to see what series Angelica stars in next.

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12. Tayla Parx established herself as one of the most in-demand songwriters right now.

If you spend any time looking at writing credits on Wikipedia, you will likely already know that Tayla Parx has been working with literally everyone. The former Hairspray star (yes she was Little Inez Stubbs) has worked with everyone from Panic! At the Disco to Normani. She also co-wrote half of the songs on Ariana's 'thank u, next' including the title track and '7 rings'.

Tayla is openly queer and as well as writing hits for other stars she spent 2019 releasing LGBTQIA+ anthems of her own. 'I Want You' is a bop of epic proportions and we've been listening to it all year long.

13. Rocketman was the first major motion picture to feature a gay sex scene.

The year is 2019 and until now major motion picture films had refrained from including any queer sex on screen. Rocketman was even going to miss out on Taron Egerton and Richard Madden passionately getting it on but Elton John stood his ground and it stayed. The scene includes nudity, kissing and simulated oral and anal sex.

One review that went viral included the already iconic phrase: "if you're a menopausal old hound looking for a boost in the fanjo, go watch this on loop".

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14. Dan Howell comes out as gay

In June, Dan Howell came out publicly as gay after making videos on YouTube for almost 10 years. The popular YouTuber uploaded an incredible 45-minute video in which he opens up about his sexuality and his journey to self-acceptance. He also talks frankly about bullying and how he even contemplated suicide at school because he "saw no escape".

The video has since racked up over 10 million views and Dan has been praised for his candour and honesty. Not long after, Dan's YouTube partner in crime Phil Lester also came out in an equally powerful and inspiring video.

15. Janet Mock made history as the first out black, trans woman to establish an overall deal with a major studio.

Having already made a name for herself as a best-selling author and a director, producer and writer for Pose, Janet Mock took things to the next level this year. According to Variety, she signed a three-year multimillion-dollar deal with Netflix to give them "exclusive rights to her TV series and a first-look option on feature film projects". Legendary moves.

16. Billy Porter became the first openly gay black man to win an Emmy for Lead Actor in a Drama Series

If there were any justice in the world, Billy Porter would have received this award years ago. His talent is incredible. However, Pose is the first TV series in which he's been cast as a lead. In his speech, Billy opened up about how he used to feel like he didn't belong in Hollywood. He then added: "I have the right, you have the right, we all have the right [to here]!"

Billy has also been putting all the boys to shame on every red carpet he's been on this year. Gentleman, take note.

17. Eric was the heart and soul of Sex Education.

Alongside Euphoria, Sex Education was the breakout teen drama of 2019. Funny, touching and necessary - the British series covered so many important topics. It also introduced to many new faces, including Ncuti Gatwa, who plays Otis' best friend Eric. Eric is so brilliant because he's not just a stereotypical 'black best friend' stereotype. He's a fully-developed character.

Eric is also gay and Sex Education does a brilliant job of exploring all the intersections of his identity in a very real way. He's the funniest character in the show but he also has the most moving storyline and Ncuti's performance is flawless.

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18. Jonathan Van Ness comes out as H.I.V. positive.

We sadly still live in a world where there is a stigma surrounding H.I.V. This makes it difficult for people to publicly open up about being H.I.V. positive. Jonathan Van Ness did just that in September though. Speaking to the New York Times, they said: "It’s hard for me to be as open as I want to be when there are certain things I haven’t shared publicly."

They then added: "These are issues that need to be talked about.”

19. Drag Race UK launched and it was everything.

RuPaul's Drag Race fans have long been asking for a British version of the hit Reality TV show and our dreams finally came true this year. From Kim Woodburn impressions to Little Mix lip-syncs, it was everything we hoped it would be and more. It also made us acquainted with iconic queens like Sum Ting Wong, The Vivienne and Davina de Campo. Bring on season 2.

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20. Ariana Grande and Victoria Monét got candid about their sexuality on 'Monopoly'.

Following the record-breaking success of thank u, next, Ariana Grande and her BFF and co-writer Victoria Monét celebrated by releasing an LGBTQIA+ anthem. 'Monopoly' is a song about flexing your success with your friends and the post-chorus includes the amazing lyric 'I like women and men', which both Ariana and Victoria sing separately.

Victoria previously came out to fans in 2018 by tweeting: "I also like girls". Ariana has never publicly come out as queer but when a fan tweeted: "ariana ain’t gotta label herself, but she said what she said", Ariana replied: "i haven’t before and still don’t feel the need to now which is okay". A labelless legend.

21. Elena lost her virginity in One Day At a Time and it was covered in a beautiful and sensitive way.

Fans of One Day at a Time will already know that the show does queer storylines brilliantly. From Elena's coming out story to her teaching her family what non-binary means when she started dating Syd, the series never fails to deliver. So when Elena and Syd decided to have sex for the first time in season 3, it was every bit as awkward, real and touching as you'd expect.

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