QUEER VOICES
12/30/2016 10:43 am ET

13 Moments That Made Us Proud To Be Queer In 2016

Remembering these moments is more important now than even before.

It goes without saying that 2016 was a rough year to be an LGBTQ person in America.

From acts of violence to institutionalized discrimination to the rise of an administration heralded by anti-LGBTQ politicians, it’s a scary time to be queer.

However, despite the lows there were a number of moments throughout 2016 that made us extremely proud to call ourselves LGBTQ. And remembering these moments is more important now than ever.

As we head into 2017, let’s take a look back at some of the moments throughout the last 12 months that sincerely made us proud to call ourselves part of the queer community.

  • 1 A "Love Trumps Hate" Billboard Went Up At RNC
    Four months before <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/donald-trump-president_us_58212debe4b0e80b02cc4986">the elect
    Planting Peace
    Four months before the election of Donald Trump, one of our favorite non-profits, Planting Peace, trolled the then-presidental candidate at the 2016 Republican National Convention.

    Planting Peace, the organization behind The Equality House and a number of other political billboards, called out Trump and the Republican party with a massive billboard in Cleveland, Ohio where the convention took place.

    The "Love Trumps Hate" billboard depicted Trump going in for a kiss with Ted Cruz, and the declaration "End Homophobia."
  • 2 A Diner Bought An Anti-Gay Family’s Dinner As A Surprise Act Of Love
    A Texas diner gave a table of patrons sitting next to her the surprise of their lives when she secretly paid for their meal after overhearing their homophobic dinner conversation.

    Natalie Woods, who hails from Denton, Texas, heard the group of three discuss how "disgusted" they were after discovering that their nephew had come out as gay. After hearing a member of the party mention that they would "pray" for Jesus to "cure" their nephew, Woods asked for the neighboring table's check and paid for their meal, leaving behind a note on the receipt. 

    “Happy holidays from the very gay, very liberal table sitting next to you. Jesus made me this way,” she wrote, adding, “P.S. Be accepting of your family.”
  • 3 Ellen Slammed Mississippi’s Anti-LGBT Law
    In April, the Magnolia State passed a religious liberty bill allowing people with religious objections to the LGBTQ community to openly discriminate against them.

    Ellen DeGeneres took a stand against Mississippi's anti-LGBTQ legislation, delivering a powerful monologue on her talk show that resonated across the country.

    “I was fired for being gay, and I know what it feels like,” she said. “I lost everything, but look at me now. I could buy that governor’s mansion, flip it and make a $7 million profit.”
  • 4 An 8-Year-Old Boy Learned The Art Of Drag Make-Up
    One of the first moments of 2016 that made us proud to be queer came in the form of a young boy named Ethan realizing his dre
    COURTESY OF JOEY KILLMEYER
    One of the first moments of 2016 that made us proud to be queer came in the form of a young boy named Ethan realizing his dream of learning how to paint drag make-up.

    Ethan's mother brought the 8-year-old into a MAC cosmetics store in Florida last January where he told make-up artist Joey Killmeyer that he wanted to learn drag make-up like he'd seen in YouTube videos online.
     
    “Society needs to steer away from what is typically known as the gender roles and stereotypes and accept the fact that it’s OK for a boy to wear makeup to express himself as an artist,” Ethan's mom told The Huffington Post. “This does not define his gender identity nor his sexual preference. He’s just exploring and being a kid! Being judgmental and close-minded on such issues not only is hurtful to our children, but it also inhibits their freedom of self-expression and prevents the opportunity for them to embrace their true identities.”
  • 5 An Entire Neighborhood Flew Rainbow Flags After Bigots Egged Their Gay Neighbors
    After vandals stole a Pride flag and egged a lesbian couple's home in Massachusetts, their entire neighborhood came together in solidarity with the victims by flying rainbow flags from their own yards.

    Lauri and Cari Rydin initially hung the flag in their yard following the Pulse Nightclub Massacre that left 49 queer people and allies dead. After the incident of vandalism and theft, more than 40 other homes in the neighborhood raised Pride flags from their own houses.

    “One person’s act of fear and maliciousness created such a powerful statement of love,” Lauri Ryding stated. “We are very blessed, very fortunate.”
  • 6 'Modern Family' Featured TV's First Transgender Child Actor
    YouTube
    Progressive television show "Modern Family' made history in September by casting television's first openly transgender child actor.

    The inclusion of Jackson Millarker in the shows casting illustrated an important evolving conversation surrounding children and gender identity, and letting children live authentically from an early age.

    The move followed "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor's challenge to Hollywood to cast more openly transgender actors.
  • 7 Bob The Drag Queen Went Trick-Or-Treating With A Child Fan
    "Rupaul's Drag Race" season nine winner Bob the Drag Queen made one nine-year-old named C.J.'s Halloween this year by surprising the "Drag Race" superfan for a night of trick-or-treating.

    Not only that, but C.J. dressed up as his drag idol for the big night.

    "Last night I watched Bob do my son’s makeup, fix his wig and hold his hand as they trick or treated together." C.J.'s parent and HuffPost blogger Matt Duron wrote after Halloween. "They smiled and laughed the whole time. They were in a world of their own. I got to follow behind them, soak it all in and hold purses and jackets as needed.It was the best night of my son’s life and it was one of mine, too. Thank you, Bob."
  • 8 Seattle Banned Conversion Therapy
    In August, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/seattle-conversion-therapy_us_57a0f440e4b08a8e8b5fcf77">Seattle joine
    ELAINE THOMPSON/AP PHOTO
    In August, Seattle joined five states, the District of Columbia, Miami and Cincinnati in banning the barbaric practice of conversion therapy.

    Under the new ordinance, mental health providers are barred from offering or advertising the practice, which has widely been discredited by mental health professionals.

    Want to read a firsthand account of the horrors of conversion therapy? Head here.
  • 9 UMass Students’ Held A ‘S**t In’ Demanding Gender Neutral Bathrooms
    In November, students at&nbsp;University of Massachusetts Amherst <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/umass-shit-in-
    ciud via Getty Images
    In November, students at University of Massachusetts Amherst staged a "shit-in" at the college's Whitmore Administration Building in order to raise awareness about the school's need for gender neutral restrooms.

    Organized by the university's Gender Liberation Union (GLU), the protest centered around the need for protections when it comes to trans people and gendered spaces like bathrooms. During the "shit-in," protestors occupied different stalls in the building marked male or female.

    “We want a third space that does not have cultural or gender surveillance,” one organizer said.
  • 10 The Miss America Pageant Had Its First Openly Gay Contestant
    Erin O’Flaherty became the first openly gay Miss America Contestant when she won the title of Miss Missouri in June of this year.

    While she didn't take the national title, she achieved a milestone for queer women.

    When asked if she had a message for queer youth, O’Flaherty told The Huffington Post: "My message is simple: Your life will change greatly. At times, you will question your strength and courage. You might question if it’s all worth it. Please know that it IS, and there are SO many people who love you, support you, and believe in you. One day, you will know exactly what freedom feels like. And you may even have a shot at becoming Miss America." 

    Head here to read O’Flaherty's full interview with The Huffington Post following her win.
  • 11 ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ Author Said She Was In Love With Her Female Best Friend
    Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert revealed in a Facebook post in early September that she had fallen in love with her female best friend, Rayya Elias.

    The Facebook post detailed Elias' battle with cancer, and expressed that the depth and intensity of the pair's friendship had led to the ending of Gilbert's marriage in 2015.

    Gilbert wrote that she needed “to live my life in truth and transparency, even more than I need privacy, or good publicity, or prudence, or other people’s approval or understanding, or just about anything else.”
  • 12 Secret Deodorant Debuted A Groundbreaking Ad About The Experience Of Being Trans
    Secret Deodorant made a bold and progressive move in October by capturing the anxiety that some transgender people face while having to navigate public restrooms in a new ad.

    The Secret #Stress Test ad featured queer artist Karis Wilde, and showed a young trans person working up the courage to leave a bathroom stall after hearing two cisgender women enter the restroom.

    “Empathy is the best medicine for ignorance and intolerance and I’m proud of this spot because it personalizes our struggle by putting a human face on these challenges," Wilde told The Huffington Post. "Spreading that message has been a part of my daily life, seeing it out there being appreciated by a wider audience is truly humbling, I hope it connects with people and brings awareness and compassion.”
  • 13 National Geographic Dedicated An Entire issue To "Gender Revolution"
    On Dec. 27, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/national-geographic-transgender-cover_us_5852d77de4b054eeaea229c0?ut
    ROBIN HAMMOND/NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
    On Dec. 27, an issue of National Geographic titled "Gender Revolution" hit newsstands. It examined the "cultural, social, biological and personal” nuances of gender and gender identity.

    Featuring 9-year-old Avery Jackson on the cover, the groundbreaking issue preceded what will be a two-hour documentary titled “Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric" airing on Feb. 6, 2017.

    “We wanted to look at how traditional gender roles play out all over the world, but also look into gender as a spectrum,” National Geographic’s Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg said. “There’s lots of coverage on celebrities, but there wasn’t an understanding on real people and the issues we face every day in classrooms or workplaces in regards to gender.”
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