Let’s be real: things are tough right now. We’re here to provide an uplifting and empowering break from the seemingly endless feed of tough news. Once a week, come back to the It Gets Better Project’s Moments of Joy, where we curate positive, queer news from around the world. Even when it feels scary around us, there are still moments of joy we can all look to to remind us of the beauty in our world. It will get better.
May 28, 2020
Midnight Ceremonies in Costa Rica
Nothing can stop the power of love. As reported by CNN, at midnight on May 26, 2020, Costa Rica became the first country in Central America and the 29th country in the world to legalize marriage equality. Minutes after, in a socially distant ceremony, Alexandra Quiros and Dunia Araya became the first queer couple to get married in Costa Rica. Many couples decided to celebrate with overnight weddings. President Carlos Alvarado Quesada tweeted, “Today we celebrate liberty, equality and our democratic institutions. May empathy and love be the compass that guide us forward and allow us to move forward and build a country that has room for everyone.”
A Family Together
Zoom. We are all familiar with Zoom happy hours, game nights, and movie marathons. Chad and Paul Beanblossom from Tennessee used the platform to adopt their foster son, Michael. Over 80 people joined the virtual ceremony. In an interview with ABC News, Chad said that Michael “just kind of came in and took over our hearts. He’s taught us just as much, if not more, than we have him. Our whole world revolves around Michael.” The couple had fostered other children before Michael, who asked Chad and Paul to be his fathers. Chad said, “We wanted the same thing that he did,” Chad said. “It’s really hard to imagine our life without him.”
Who Else is in the Mood to Happy Cry?
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months looking up queer love stories (if that is not abundantly obvious by now). This week, NowThis released an incredible video highlighting the 2019 wedding of Parag Mehta and Vaibhav Jain. Parag’s father, Dr. Vijay A. Mehta, made a speech that almost made my heart burst from joy. In it, he asks himself a question: do I love my son any less after he came out to me than I did before he came out? The answer is a resounding no, I still love him the same. The rest of the video highlights the incredible way that the couple adapted traditional Jain wedding customs to create a template for other same-sex couples to use. This couple is extraordinary and may their love inspire us all.
May 21, 2020
A Prideful Course
School being out of session hasn’t stopped the Montgomery County, Maryland public school system from approving a new course on LGBTQ+ history and culture. In the fall, interested 11th and 12th graders will be able to take a course that covers important aspects of queer history and culture, such as different identities and essential moments from history. In an interview with them., social studies specialist Tiferet Ani said, “I think that we need students that identify as LGBTQ to see themselves and to know their identity is celebrated, not just accepted, and to know people like them have helped shape our history and culture.” Hopefully, more schools will incorporate initiatives like this one and pass the Fair Education Act in their states!
Backpacks for Hope
Queerness is all about community. And our community loves to give back. Fiancés Jeffery Newman and Jayson Conner co-founded their nonprofit Backpacks for the Street in 2018 to deliver essentials to people experiencing homelessness in New York City. Since COVID-19 hit their city especially hard, the couple has expanded their network of volunteers and are delivering more backpacks filled with supplies than ever. Before the pandemic, they were delivering 30 backpacks a day. Now, they deliver at least a 100 to people in need. “We’re very happy to be doing it; it’s a labor of love,” said Jeffery in an interview with NBC News.
The True Princess of Power (Spoilers Ahead!)
Our queer hearts broke and were rebuilt this week when “She-Ra and the Princesses of Power” concluded with it’s fifth season. It’s no secret that the show is abundantly queer and endlessly joyful. Show-runner Noelle Stevenson created a world where princesses can marry other princesses, pronouns are always respected, and the power of women is deeply known. In this last season, the couple that everyone has been rooting for finally solidified their love with a kiss. To have Adora and Catra so boldly express their love, the love we all saw for five seasons, in a show for kids is an undeniable step forward. We all deserve to see ourselves reflected because it reinforces what we all know: that we have dignity, that we are all connected to each other, and we are all worthy of sharing our story. While She-Ra may have ended, a new era of queer representation is blossoming right before our eyes.
May 14, 2020
Schools look different now. In a few short weeks, graduations will be happening digitally. All students deserve to have their hard work celebrated, loudly and proudly. One of those students is Syd Sanders, the first out trans valedictorian in Maine. His teachers describe him as “fearless” and “extraordinary.” Before attending Harvard University in the fall, Syd has to deliver the valedictorian speech at Belfast Area High school. In a profile by NBC News, Syd said he’s planning an “optimistic” speech. His advice to other trans students? “Even if you don’t see the light and you’re not sure why you’re working hard or why you’re doing things … just keep going.”
Love & Marriage in Taiwan
Nearly a year ago, on May 24, 2019, Taiwan became the first country in Asia to legalize gay marriage. Taiwan’s Ministry of the Interior reported that more than 3,500 gay marriages have happened as of the end of March 2020. As reported by Focus Taiwan, there have been 1,122 male couples and 2,431 female couples registered as married in Taiwan. Thinking about those thousands of couples finally able to celebrate their love through marriage makes me very weepy.
A Note on Visibility
Growing up, there was a lesbian couple who lived around the corner from me. They had two little kids who attended the same pre-school I had years earlier, at a community center I still frequented for swim practice. Every time I saw them, I wanted to say something about how much it meant to see two queer women with a family at my local JCC.
Now, in a time where visibility is more important than ever, here is a story from last year. After their county commissioners voted not to fly pride flags from court buildings in their conservative town, Sal Stow and her wife Meghan Stabler decided to fly two rainbow flags at their home. One morning, Sal found the below note tucked under a rock on their front mat. In a post on Facebook, Sal explained that “This is why visibility is SO important. You never know who needs the support and to know it’s ok.”
I wish I had left a note for the couple on my street to tell them how much it meant to see queer love and family, so proud and so open.
May 6, 2020
Black Queer Excellence
The 2020 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced virtually on Monday, May 4th. The prize awards achievements in writing, including journalism, literature, and newspaper. This year, two Black, gay writers were among the 22 recipients. Michael R. Jackson is the first Black writer to win in the drama category for his musical, A Strange Loop, which is an auto-biographical meta-tale following moments of Jackson’s own life. Jericho Brown won the award in poetry for his collection of poems, The Tradition. This is a monumental and much-deserved celebration of Black queer voices. For more information, read them.‘s article following the wins.
A Very Gaga Graduation
Lady Gaga has been working to keep queer spirits up in the past few months, including curating the One World: Together at Home event. She has one more announcement up her sleeve. No, it isn’t that we’re less than a month away from the release of her new album Chromatica. As reported by PinkNews, she will be joining Michelle and Barack Obama on June 6th in a virtual commencement address to all the students who will not be able to have a graduation due to the pandemic. Her presence will surely uplift all of the queer students who look up to her for courage and acceptance.
Xanax for Lesbian Quarantine Weddings
As if queer weddings weren’t daunting already (watch this SNL sketch if you don’t understand), they’re somehow more creative in quarantine. One couple decided to postpone their wedding for obvious reasons and included some local charm. As reported by Buzzfeed News, Bri and Lindsey Leaverton turned their wedding into a safe event fit for the big screen. They went to local drive-in theater where they invited guests to pull up and watch them get married on stage. A huge congratulations to the happy couple!
April 30, 2020
Don’t Rush Queer Joy
Fine, you’ve got me! At this point, I think it’s abundantly evident that I spend hours upon hours on queer TikTok and you know what? I have no regrets. For the past month or so, the #DontRushChallenge has been giving me life. Originally set to “Don’t Rush” by Young T and Bugsey, the challenge features people making dramatic glam transformations. It’s the perfect opportunity for fabulous drag transformations and joyful couples showing off their incredible style. Them. published an amazing article about the challenge’s history and compiled some of the queer highlights.
A Secret Love
If I’ve learned anything in quarantine, it’s that apparently I can cry at the slightest provocation. I learned this lesson the hard way while watching the trailer for the new Netflix documentary, “A Secret Love” (the film was released on the platform yesterday, April 29). The film covers the 65-year relationship of Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel, a lesbian couple who’s relationship was not known by their families until recently. Since meeting in 1947, the couple has seen the LGBTQ rights movement evolve from Stonewall to marriage equality and beyond. This film is a testament to the beauty of queer love and the perfect thing to watch this weekend (only if you have an abundance of tissues)!
Adoptions in Finland
Three years ago, Finland passed a law that allowed same-sex couples to legally marry and adopt children. In accordance with Finland’s lengthy adoption process, the first adoptions have finally happened. Two same-sex couples have adopted children in the country’s capital of Helsinki. As reported by Out, one of the new parents “rejoice in [their] normal baby routine.” The country’s prime minister, Sanna Marin, who was raised by two mothers, has said that “For me, people have always been equal. It’s not a matter of opinion. That’s the foundation of everything.”
April 24, 2020
“So, how did you two meet?”
If you’ve been following the blog, you know it’s no secret we’re suckers for a love story (I mean, who isn’t?). And it looks like quarantine is speeding along the love stories of some adorable queer couples — like Reed Badman and Aaron Hussey. Before quarantine, they were just two people testing the waters of a new relationship. Then Reed’s roommate became exposed and their relationship took on the plot of a fanfic rom-com. Based on Aaron’s adorable tweets covering their blossoming romance, it looks like they’re both thriving. In an interview with Pride, Reed said — “In a weird way, I’m really happy that this is the way we’ve started our relationship because we have really been able to get to know each other without distractions. And it’ll make for an excellent dinner party story.”
Enjoy a Little Warhol This Week
Let’s be honest. I’ve watched almost ten seasons of The Amazing Race, played more hours of Animal Crossing than I wish to admit, and baked my way through a cookbook. It’s time for some ~culture~. Luckily, Esquire released an interview with Gregor Muir, the director of Tate’s International Collection, walking us through some of the best pieces in the Andy Warhol exhibit. The interview looks at pieces from the collection and offers insights that you would enjoy on a tour of the. Even though museums might be closed, there’s no reason we can’t enjoy beautiful and powerful art created by a queer icon.
Warning: Hilarity Ensues
To know about Leslie Jordan is to love Leslie Jordan. The comedian, famous for his role in Will & Grace, has been busy creating a collection of hilarious, smile-inducing, and heart-warming videos on his Instagram. From botched exercise classes to Shark Tank ideas, and so much more, Leslie has been filling our days with more moments of joy than we can count. In an interview with Advocate, Leslie shared a hopeful thought on our current situation: “I’m hoping that the whole world, having gone through something like this, is going to come out of all of this kinder.”
The Making of a Queer Icon
A loud and musical welcome to the queer community is needed for the one and only Rebecca Black! The pop star came out last week on a friend’s podcast when she casually mentioned the gender of the person she had been dating. Since then, she has had an outpouring of support from her fans and the queer community. In an interview with GayTimes, she discussed the joy she’s felt since coming out. “Everybody talks about that sense of relief and I had no idea what that would feel like, but they’re right, and I’m so happy to be finally able to talk about it.” The entire article is a gem detailing her coming out process to herself, the impact her hit “Friday” had on her journey, and the potential of a new album. Welcome to the family, Rebecca!
April 16, 2020
Coming Out (ft. Jason Derulo)
Honestly, at this point, we should just rename the blog to “Our Favorite TikToks This Week.” If you haven’t taken our advice and spent hours on there already, rest assured we’ll be posting the queer highlights! Lately, there’s been an incredible trend of queer kids coming out to friends using, get ready for it, a snippet from the 2014 hit from Jason Derulo, “Get Ugly.” The line in question: “This girl straight and this girl not.” As you can guess, the videos show the queer teen singing along to the line, complete with the appropriate gesturing. The reactions truly could not be cuter. Coming out videos have gotten way more creative, and feature more Jason Derulo, over the years! PinkNews put together a compilation of some of the best.
Best Quarantine Dad Award Goes To….
In another edition of Reddit Being The Cutest Place on the Internet, a father reached out on the platform to ask for some advice regarding his son. After being sent home from university, his son asked if a “friend” could come home with him. The father has some compelling cute evidence for why he suspects they are a couple and is now asking Reddit for advice on how to make them know they’re accepted in his home. This is only making us happy cry a little.
A Historic Win for LGBTQ+ Virginians
Lately, news from any government agency has not exactly been positive. Here’s a nice alternative to that. ABC 13 News reported that on Saturday, April 11th, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam signed the Virginia Values Act, making Virginia the first state in the South to “enact comprehensive protections for the LGBTQ+ community.” The law includes protections against “discrimination in housing, employment, public spaces, and credit applications.” A huge step forward to protect the dignity of all queer Virginians.
Queering the Pages
Queer bookstores have a special place in the community; they are hubs for gatherings, knowledge, and comfort. In our new landscape of distance, queer bookstores have reimagined how to create community. Bookstores across North America have shifted their monthly events to virtual ones serving the queer community (virtual dance parties, writing workshops, and drag queen story times top our list!). In an interview with them., Gretchen True, co-owner of Madison, Wisconsin’s bookshop A Room of One’s Own, said that “As a community, we are resilient, creative, and exceptionally capable of adapting to uncertainty with hope, mutual support, generosity, and dare I say it, joy.”
April 9, 2020
We’re So Grateful
This week, Schitt’s Creek ended after six beautiful seasons. The show quickly became the undisputed fan favorite of queer people everywhere because of its unflinching joy and representation of queer people and relationships. As part of the finale, the cast read a letter sent to them from a Facebook group of over 1,800 moms with LGBTQ+ kids. The letter thanked them deeply for all they have done to show and create a happy world for their children. We can’t echo their words enough. Dan Levy & the cast of Schitt’s Creek: thank you.
Welcome to gayburger y’all
As we’ve mentioned, TikTok is known for being one of the funniest, queerest, and most joyful places on the internet. If you’re looking for hours of hysterical and relatable LGBTQ+ Gen Z content, look no further than @gayburgerofficial. They’re a collective of 32 (and growing!) young queer creators making awesome TikToks that are everything we stand for: uplifting, empowering, and connecting queer youth. Now make some tea and just enjoy ✨
A Community, Stronger than Ever
While it can be difficult to still feel community while we are all isolated in our own residences, queer people in England have created “mutual aid” groups focused on serving the LGBTQ+ community. Dogs are walked, groceries are delivered, and queerness is celebrated. DJ Harry Gay talked about the Queer House Party (pictured below), a new online night club. In an interview with Buzzfeed, he shared that “We’re a bunch of queers living in an overpriced house-share in south-east London who wanted to put something out there to bring joy during this crisis.”
Some Light Reading
Is there anything better than a juicy, entertaining Twitter story? What about a queer one, quarantine edition? Lev Rosen, author of the incredible Jack of Hearts (And Other Parts), released a story following boyfriends who broke up…but are now quarantined together. If you’re looking for a quick and touching read, this thread will brighten your week!
April 2, 2020
March 31 was Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) and even a quarantine couldn’t stop the world from celebrating the incredible trans community. Finally, something positive was trending on Twitter! Catch a compilation of some of the most uplifting content on NewNowNext. And make sure to watch our video with musician Benjamin Scheuer, who premiered the music video for “I Am Samantha,” inspired by his friend and her transition.
And the Category is: Social Distancing!
We all know that TikTok is the place for hysterical and creative content. (If you ever need to kill an hour just laughing, you need to get on TikTok). Well, get ready for a runway, quarantine style. Queer kids on TikTok have been showing off their best drag looks, inspired by our current qurantine-climate. Buzzfeed compiled a few of the best here.
Tune in for Validation
For many trans and queer kids, being quarantined means being in environments where their identity and pronouns aren’t fully respected. In comes The Validation Station, a daily positive text message service for the trans community. In an interview with PinkNews, Jacob Edward hopes the service will remind trans people that “that they are still themselves and their name and pronouns are still theirs!” You are valid and you are loved, always.
Love in a Quarantined Place
*Stefon voice* This story has everything. Gay men. An arranged marriage. A global pandemic. Quarantine. Flirting. A clueless husband. Cuddling on the couch. Will they get together? (Spoiler: they do!) While the story was taken down from Reddit, you can find the whole saga and updates on Twitter. This truly is the queer fanfic of our dreams!
March 27, 2020
Last week, fashion designer Christian Siriano tweeted that he had a full sewing team on hand ready to make masks to help the shortage in New York City. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly responded: “Thank you.” Within a week, Siriano’s team has made over 1,000 masks, with more on the way. In an interview with Good Morning America, Siriano said “It was really a simple thing and I just felt like it was a really important time because I felt like it was so needed — not just in New York, but everywhere.” He couldn’t be more right.
Love (Finally) Won
In Andorra, one of Europe’s smallest countries, the road to marriage equality is finally over. While queer couples have been able to enter civil partnerships since 2014, the new law will erase the “separate but equal” distinction from straight marriages. A happy day for the citizens of Andorra!
History Made on the News
This month, history was made in Argentina as the first transgender news anchor, Diana Zurco, debuted on Televisión Pública’s prime time evening news program. In an interview with Associated Press, Zurco expressed that her “presence challenges society. It is an invitation to society that says: ‘This is me; behind me there are more people like me who want to express themselves.'” Diana Zurco is a beacon for trans people not only in Argentina, but around the world.
A Fairytale Beginning
As more and more people social distance in an effort to flatten the curve, weddings all over the world have been cancelled. Even that couldn’t stop Reilly Jennings and Amanda Wheeler from getting married. On an empty New York City Sidewalk, the couple listened to a wedding officiant (carefully leaning out of his window) read them a passage from “Love in the Time of Cholera.” In an Instagram post, Jennings said: “I’ve waited 4 years to call [Amanda Wheeler] my wife.” Queer love always finds a way.
We hope these Moments of Joy brought a smile to your face. If you’re looking for additional resources, please click here. Join us next week for more positively queer inspiration.
This blog is lovingly written each week by Ariella Assouline (she/hers), resident baker, gamer, and plant mom at the It Gets Better Project.