As we mark the end of 2013, it is important to reflect back on some of the most prominent contributions by members of the queer community this year that have helped galvanize the massive social and political victories of the past twelve months.
From visibility to institutional reform, queer people are involved in a mainstream shift that is gradually changing the way the public understands and relates to our community. In celebration of all of these moments over the past year and the victories we hope will happen throughout the course of 2014, join us in recognizing 20 of the most compelling members of the queer community and their contributions over the past year.
Though she was snubbed by both The Advocate and "Time" magazine for person of the year, Edie Windsor is certainly one of the most important and compelling people we had the pleasure of watching during the past year of political and social battles for LGBT rights.
The landmark case United States v. Windsor involved Windsor suing the federal government after the Internal Revenue Service denied her refund request for the $363,000 in federal estate taxes she paid after her spouse, Thea Spyer, died in 2009.
The Supreme Court ultimately ruled a key portion of the Defense of Marriage act to be unconstitutional.
2013 was a grounding breaking year for athletes that identify as LGBT, including the coming out of Jason Collins. Not only did Collin's coming out in Sports Illustrated inspire other LGBT athletes to live as their authentic selves, but it made him the first openly gay professional male athlete in any major sport.
In the midst of a historic year for LGBT athletes, WNBA draft pick Britney Griner openly discussed her lesbian identity with Maggie Gray of Sports Illustrated.
She became the third openly LGBT WNBA draft pick alongside Skylar Diggins and Elena Delle Donne, providing essential visibility for lesbian identity within the sports world. "It wasn't too difficult," Griner told the magazine. "I wouldn't say I was hiding or anything like that. I've always been open about who I am and my sexuality."
Rising to fame as a contestant on the third season of "RuPaul's Drag Race," Carmen Carrera broke new ground when she came out of the closet as transgender and embarked on a modeling career, eventually signing with Elite.
One of GLAAD's Spirit Day ambassadors, 11-year-old Marcel Neergaard bravely took a stand against anti-gay bullying this year by becoming a blogger for HuffPost Gay Voices and speaking out against Tennessee's infamous "Don't Say Gay" bill. The young activist also spearheaded a petition in response to this bill and the educational "Reformer of The Year" award received by its creator John Ragan, which was rescinded from the anti-gay politician thanks to Neergaard's work.
"Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes," the 41-year-old wrote in a letter to the festival's director, which was posted on GLAAD's website. "However, as a gay man, I must decline."
Professional U.S. soccer player Robbie Rogers contributed to this historic year for LGBT athletes when he came out as gay on his personal website in February of this year. "Secrets can cause so much internal damage," the soccer star wrote. "People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently." Rogers went on to be named one of Out magazine's OUT 100 honorees.
DC Comic fans were introduced to Alysia in "Batgirl" #19 in early April when the character revealed that she is transgender during a conversation with Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). The move made Alysia not only the first DC Comics transgender character but the first transgender character in mainstream comics.
"Kinky Boots," a show whose main character line-up includes a drag queen, went on to ruffle quite a few conservative feathers at this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, inspiring performers and Fiersetin to respond to the controversy in an amazing way. “You have to start a dialogue,” Fierstein told Page Six. “And you can’t have a dialogue unless someone says something first. It takes actual work to open up [people’s] minds.”
CORRECTION; The original version of this article incorrectly identified Carmen Carrera as having been a contestant on the fourth season of "RuPaul's Drag Race." She was actually featured on the third season. In addition, Coy Mathis' name was incorrectly listed as "Cory."