For people within the LGBTQ+ community, this year held a lot of moments to be proud of, from the advancement of human rights, to community members thriving, to new celebrity role models.
In fact, due to the ongoing advancement of LGBTQ+ acceptance and celebration, the year was given a brand new nickname by social media users—“20gayTeen”.
The nickname, a riff on 2018, is a term coined by pop singer Hayley Kiyoko, who has been dubbed “Lesbian Jesus” by fans.
The term took off, and has been adopted by social media users to celebrate the best moments of LGBTQ+ progression and pride.
Of course there’s no room for all of the brilliant moments that took place over the year, but here are 10 of 2018’s best LGBTQ+ viral spots, including acts of kindness, hilarious memes, and defiant messages of hope.
1. The meme itself, #20GAYTEEN, got the year off to a brilliant start.
LGBTQ+ memes began early on in the year, with the dawn of 20GAYTEEN.
After Hayley Kiyoko tweeted:
“I can’t wait to wake up in #20GAYTEEN”
…on New Year’s Eve of 2017, social media users had a field day using it themselves, sparking a wonderful beginning to the new year.
2. The release of Netflix’s Queer Eye brought joy to everyone’s hearts.
Queer Eye’s Fab Five came to Netflix in February of this year, helping people regain their confidence and get their life on track in Georgia. The show was an instant hit, and was renewed for a second series which premiered in June.
People even poked fun at themselves in a meme, suggesting what advice the Fab Five would give them if they were on the show.
Everybody needs series three immediately.
3. Janelle Monae’s anthem “PYNK” was released.
“Pynk” is a song recorded by American singer Janelle Monae. It has been lauded as an anthem for its empowering lyrics and video, which feature her in a pretty eye-catching pair of “vagina trousers”.
Watch the video here:
Monae herself publicly came out as pansexual this year, and many of her recent songs play on themes of empowerment, self-love and the female body.
LGBTQ+ women loved the song and video on social media, which has been nominated for several “best single of 2018” awards.
4. Paud’s Pins were found a new home after being discovered in an attic.
Gavin McGregor was helping a friend clear out her attic in south London when they found LGBTQ+ pamphlets, comics, a book manuscript and a set of 130 pin badges from the 1980s.
After some detective work, McGregor discovered the collection had belonged to Paud Hegarty, who managed Gay’s The Word bookshop in Bloomsbury in the 1980s and ’90s before his death at 45 from an Aids-related illness.
He got in touch with the current management of Gay’s The Word to let them know what had been found.
After speaking to manager Jim McSweeney and employee Uli, he decided to donate the collection to the bookshop, where the pins are currently displayed.
Thrilled to learn that Paud’s badges are going to feature at @gaystheword 40th birthday event (40th?! It doesn’t look a day over 39) at the British Library on 22 Feb. https://t.co/5ZgG1joOXr pic.twitter.com/QDlfoLyOam
— Paud’s Pins (@PaudsPins) December 14, 2018
On #WorldAidsDay, remembering the irrepressible Paud Hegarty, the brave stands he took, the ways he touched people’s lives and the wonderful archive he left behind. Here again is the story of how his collection was discovered earlier this year: https://t.co/CltXOuWMPn pic.twitter.com/Ky7OZKFqAJ
— Paud’s Pins (@PaudsPins) December 1, 2018
5. Pride parades came around, and this act of kindness stood out.
Pride parades took place around the world this summer, which proved fun and affirming for many in the community.
One act of kindness in particular went viral, with the grandmother of Lexie Nobrega, a student from Virginia, ironing out her flag before the event.
The heartwarming gesture reached over 33,000 retweets, and plenty of people were touched by it.
Nobrega went on to visit Capital Pride in Washington DC once her flag looked its best.
6. Activists found a way to wear a Pride flag to the World Cup in Russia.
Six activists wearing colored football shirts traveled to Russia during the World Cup to produce a rainbow flag, despite the country banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to under-18s.
These rules were relaxed for tourists in Russia during the event, but many protested the country’s attitude towards LGBTQ+ people more broadly.
The Hidden Flag project was arranged by the Federation (FELGTB), Spain’s largest organization for LGBTQ+ rights, which sent people in the shirts of Spain, Holland, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia to Russia to recreate the Pride flag.
The organization warned LGBTQ+ fans visiting Russia not to participate in political protests, as well as to avoid public displays of affection, which was something the six participating activists took into account before arriving.
7. Banned Kenyan lesbian romance film Rafiki received international acclaim.
Rafiki, a lesbian love story directed by Wanuri Kahiu, was banned in Kenya, its country of origin, for promoting homosexuality.
The critically acclaimed film was still shown in several locations including London and Cannes Film Festival, and received worldwide praise.
Kenya’s High Court overturned its government’s ban of the film for seven days so it could be submitted for Academy Awards consideration.
Rafiki was not selected as Kenya’s submission in the Foreign Language Film category, but while the ban was lifted the film was shown to a sold-out crowd at a cinema in Nairobi.
The film follows a forbidden romance between two young women, Kena and Ziki, who find love amid family and political pressures.
8. A historic same-sex kiss took place at New York’s annual Thanksgiving parade.
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City featured a same-sex kiss on live TV during a performance of “Build a Prom” from new Broadway musical The Prom.
The kiss, one of the first same-sex kisses in the parade, was broadcast by NBC to an estimated audience of 50 million people.
The Prom is about an LGBTQ+ teenager in Indiana, whose high school prom is canceled after the authorities find out she wants to bring her girlfriend to the event.
The pair received some backlash for the Thanksgiving kiss, but overall the reception was positive and accepting.
9. Trans people announced that they would not be erased in the face of adversity.
In October, an unreleased memo from the US Department of Health and Human Services announced the tightening of the legal definition of sex, excluding transgender and non-binary individuals.
It reportedly said:
“The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”
Trans people took to Twitter using the hashtag #WontBeErased to stand up for their rights and identity.
The online use of the hashtag was coupled with offline protests in the United States, which stood against the legislation that could affect the estimated 1.4 million Americans who identify as a different gender to that which they were assigned.
10. Lastly, there was a “rainbow wave” in the United States as a record number of LGBTQ+ politicians were elected.
The US midterm elections made history with a record number of diverse candidates elected to the House of Representatives, including Muslim, Black, Latinx, Native American and LGBTQ+ politicians.
Due to the number of wins from LGBTQ+ candidates, some Twitter users described the election night as a “rainbow wave”.
Among others, Kansas Democrat Sharice Davids became the first gay woman to represent Kansas and joined Deb Haaland of New Mexico as the first Native American women to ever serve in Congress.
This is Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, the first two Native American women elected to the U.S. Congress.
RETWEET if you stand with these two history-making Democrats as they fight for equality and justice for EVERY American! pic.twitter.com/bOlPIE0l2Z
— Protect Robert Mueller ✊ (@DisavowTrump20) November 15, 2018
Colorado’s Jared Polis became the country’s first openly gay man elected governor.
— Aya Saad-Masri (@trEnchwill_sink) December 21, 2018
Who knows what 2019 will bring!