Take a look at the six stories that are representatives of LGBTQ struggles and victories in 2023. In this photo, a Pride flag is pictured. (Alexander Demyanenko/Shutterstock)
It has certainly been a year of extremes for the nation’s LGBTQ community. Besides seeing a record number of anti-LGBTQ bills in 2023, LGBTQ people also experienced the mainstreaming of anti-trans hate, the erosion of protection against hate speech on social media, and a new U.S. House speaker with an extensive history of anti-LGBTQ views.
But despite the recent explosion in hateful rhetoric, the community also celebrated victories that should not be eclipsed by negativity.
“The silver lining in this year of challenge is the incredible way LGBTQ people and our allies continue to show up for our community and everyone’s fundamental freedoms,” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, told the Daily News.
Ellis cited the re-election of Kentucky’s pro-trans rights Gov. Andy Beshear, the ousting of Tucker Carlson, and Beyoncé’s “phenomenal tour” honoring queer Black people as just some of the reasons to be grateful for this year.
Here are six stories that defined the struggles and victories of the LGBTQ community in 2023 — from the fabulous, to the shady, to the downright messy.
1. Rainbow wave
Virginia Delegate Danica Roem made history as the first openly transgender person elected to a state senate in the South, during a historic year for LGBTQ candidates across the U.S. According to the LGBTQ+ Victory Institute, 250 out-and-proud candidates won their elections in 2023 — a new record for an odd-numbered election year.
2. Sam Smith and Kim Petras shine
Kim Petras and Sam Smith hold the award for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance in the press room during the 65th annual Grammy Awards at the Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Feb. 5, 2023. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
British singer-songwriter Sam Smith and pop princess Kim Petras became the first nonbinary and transgender artists to win a Grammy for Best Duo Pop Performance for the dance floor-ready “Unholy.” Their devilish performance of the song at the ceremony night sparked fury among conservatives.
3. Drag bans — and its bans
Even though performances featuring actors wearing clothes of the opposite sex date back to ancient Greece, 2023 saw many attempts to ban the art of drag in the U.S. After Tennessee became the first state to restrict public drag shows in March, several other Republican-led states followed suit, including Montana, Texas and Florida. The anti-drag crusade, however, has since been halted by court orders across the nation.
4. Transgender coverage
The spread of anti-trans misinformation online — amplified by the weakening of protections against hate speech on social media platforms — added to “inaccurate, biased coverage of transgender people” by prominent news outlets and translated into real-life danger for the transgender community. In February, GLAAD was joined by more than 120 other organizations and leaders in a letter to The New York Times urging the paper to improve its “inaccurate, harmful” coverage of trans people and issues.
5. Dylan Mulvaney’s cruel treatment
Trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney became the subject of “more bullying and transphobia than [she] could have ever imagined” after partnering up with Bud Light for a social media campaign earlier this year. A short video posted on her Instagram account in April ignited a massive social media firestorm involving anti-LGBTQ crusaders and U.S. senators.
6. Anti-LGBTQ legislation
A never-before-seen effort by Republican lawmakers in conservative states to target the rights of members of the LGBTQ community led the Human Rights Campaign to declare a “state of emergency” for the first time in its four-decade history. More than 550 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in 43 states in 2023, with more than 80 signed into law, according to the HRC. In comparison, last year — until now the worst year on record — 29 bills became law.