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.
September 24, 2020
10 Proud Years Better
This week is monumental for us at the It Gets Better Project. Monday, September 21st marked the 10 year anniversary of the first It Gets Better video. What started as a single video sparked a viral global movement that is still empowering LGBTQ+ youth. This last decade has meant connecting more queer kids to each other, sharing stories from our beautiful community, and creating a huge collection dedicated to showing that it gets better. Those three words have such a strong hold because of hope, of promise. As Jenn Richards said, “even when it gets worse…you get stronger.”
For our anniversary, there have been a few incredible pieces covering our last decade. To read these pieces from People, Forbes, NBC Out and more, click here.
A Hero for the LGBTQ+ Community
Growing up, my knowledge of the Supreme Court boiled down to one simple fact: Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was on the Court. In elementary, she was everything I needed to know about the judicial system. The small, fierce, Jewish woman was a leader I clung to desperately. Her presence and voice has secured me rights as a queer woman that I will always be grateful for. She was a leader, an icon, in the truest of senses.
Seth Levy, the Chairman of the It Gets Better Project’s Board of Directors wrote a moving tribute to Justice Ginsburg and her never-ending fight for LGBTQ+ rights. Read his piece here.
September 17, 2020
Massive Step Forward in English Schools
If we’re being honest, there is nowhere else I would rather live than that adorable town in Sex Education. I have no idea if it’s a real place, where teens are incredibly well dressed, you can bike everywhere, and inclusive sex education is the norm. However, it might exist pretty soon now a law passed mandating that high schools in England teach LGBTQ+-inclusive sex education. The new guidelines aim to inform all students on gender identity and sexual orientation so that they “understand the importance of equality.” As reported by NBC News, the curriculum aims to “teach young people to understand human sexuality and to respect themselves and others.”
Sweetest Thing You’ll See All Day
Bet you thought I was off TikTok. HA! After spending endless hours watching “meteor meatier” (if you haven’t seen it, please please do), I came across my new favorite TikTok. In it, this incredibly sweet woman talks to her granddaughter about her latest realization: she wants to be with women. She says, “if I ever got involved with anyone, it wouldn’t be a man. It would be a woman.” The whole interaction is endlessly sweet and shows it’s never too late to be who you are.
Protections in Place
Friday marked a huge win in the US federal courts. Helen Thornton, who was in a 27-year relationship with Marge Brown, sued after she was denied survivor’s benefits from Social Security after Marge passed away in 2006. She was denied because they were unmarried, even though same-sex marriage was illegal when they were together. Federal courts ruled that this denial was unconstitutional, as reported by The Advocate. Lambda Legal lawyer Peter Rann gave a statement that “today, one more legacy of discriminatory marriage bans has been struck down and surviving same-sex partners will no longer be robbed of their earned benefits.”
September 9, 2020
✨ Space is Queer ✨
When it comes to the great Trek vs Wars divide, my mom made sure to firmly plant me in the Star Trek camp. Some huge news this week only reinforced my love for the series. Gay Nation just reported that in the latest season of Star Trek: Discovery will introduce the first nonbinary and trans character of the franchise. Ian Alexander from Netflix’s The OA will play Gray, and Blu del Barrio will play Adira. We’re so excited to watch these actors crush it on screen!
“The Only Way We Can Change”
The news out of Poland has been nothing short of heartbreaking. But our community knows how to come together when we’re needed most. In response to anti-LGBTQ+ laws in Poland, thousands of protestors held joint protests in the border towns of Slubice, Poland and Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany, as reported by Pink News. German protesters held signs expressing pride and love for their Polish neighbors. Mewa Topolska, a teacher and organizer of the march in Slubice, said “the only way we can change people’s opinions is through visibility. Moments like these, when our community joins together for the rights of all, fills my heart with joy.
An Iconic First Season (*spoilers below*)
We’ve established that I’m not an avid Drag Race viewer, no matter how hard my friends try. However, Canada’s Drag Race might change my mind (if you don’t remember our highlight of Mina Gerges, scroll down to August 6th). Season one just ended and crowned Priyanka as the winner. Canada’s first drag superstar attended her coronation decked out in traditional Indo-Guyanese clothes. She is the first winner of Indian descent in the entire Drag Race global franchise. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, she said “Growing up, there weren’t a lot of people like me on TV. It’s kind of interesting now to be Canada’s first drag superstar, because now someone who looks like me can be like, “Oh, I guess I can do that too!” We’re normalizing people of color winning things. Shea Couleé. Jaida Essence Hall. That’s normal!
Canada’s Drag Race had another star grace our screens: Ilona Verley. As always, them. has an excellent piece highlighting the show’s first Indigenous Two-Spirit queen, Ilona Verley. Her looks are all pastel, monochromatic, and unbelievably gorgeous. Ilona is using her platform to educate others about what being Two-Spirit means, along with getting in touch with her own cultural practices. She said that competing on Drag Race has allowed her “to fully accept her identity as a proud, Indigenous trans woman.”
(Left: the new queen, Priyanka. Right: pastel goddess, Ilona Verley)
September 3, 2020
You all knew there was no way I wasn’t going to start this without talking about Niecy Nash. The multi-talented actress has long been an icon for the queer community (Reno 911 and Claws, anyone?). Well, she shocked the world this week with a single Instagram post about her wedding. Her surprise wedding announcing a relationship no one even speculated about. Nicey married musician Jessica Betts and people (including me) are overwhelmed with emotions. NewNowNext compiled a few reactions, but one of my favorites is from Solomon Georgio: “Nicey Nash being gay married is the last thing I ever expected and the first thing I wanted to know.”
Protesting for Justice
Tens of thousands of protestors gathered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. on August 28th on the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington. This march, The Commitment March, called to end systemic racism and police brutality. LGBTQ+ actvists joined the march in solidarity and to highlight the injustices carried out against Black LGBTQ+ people, especially Black trans women. As reported by the Los Angeles Blade, founder of the Black Trans Liberation Qween Jean said, “trans people, trans women, Black trans people can exist in any space. We are divinely made and created so yes, we will be seen. I will make sure that my generation and the next generation do not need to feel small, they do not need to be silent, they do not have to dim their light so others can shine.” Despite how difficult this year has been, these monumental displays of strength and solidarity fill my heart with joy. Together, we will be able to create the world we want to live in.
Gavin Grimm’s Legacy
If you’ve been following the battle for bathroom rights for trans people in the United States, you know about Gavin Grimm. Since 2015, when he was a sophomore in high school, Gavin has been in and out of courts fighting to make bathrooms accessible for all trans kids. As reported by Out, Gavin won another major victory when a federal court of appeals upheld a previous decision that the discrimination he faced using a boys bathroom was unconstitutional. Gavin said that “all transgender students should have what I was denied: the opportunity to be seen for who we are by our schools and our government.” We are overjoyed for the Gavin and all of the trans youth who will be positively impacted by this legal standing.
August 27, 2020
In June, we talked about the monumental “All Black Lives Matter” march in Hollywood, California. Tens of thousands of people marched to protest the murders of two Black trans women: Riah Milton and Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells. As reported by PinkNews, the blocks-long mural along Hollywood Boulevard will now be a permanent installations. Gerald Garth and Brandon Anthony, board members of the Black LGBTQ+ Activists for Change, said they hope the permanent installation “becomes a symbol not just to the city, but to the world.”
Come “Draw With Me”
An upcoming short film about a trans kid’s journey to acceptance is generating a lot of buzz because of a very high-profile advocate: Jennifer Lopez. In an Instagram post, Jennifer shared a clip from Draw With Me, the story of her nibling Brendon’s journey and expression through art. The post was shared to her 130 million followers and introduced a lot of them to the experiences trans kids go through to having their families, and schools accept them. It also introduced an awesome gender-neutral term for niece or nephew, nibling, to an audience who may not have heard of the term. In her post, Jennifer said the film is “about accepting change and challenges with love and knowing that when we do, anything’s possible.”
We Always Knew There Were Queer Ones, Too
Ah, fairytales. Whether you enjoy them for the morals, the drama, or the beautiful outfits, we all know a good story when we hear one. So why does it seem like all the fairytales out there are straight? Illustrator and writer Pete Jordi Wood wondered the same thing. His research led him to discover the 19th century story called “The Dog and the Sailor.” As reported by Forbes, Pete said when he read the story to his queer friends, they all got “goosebumps.” The story is “weird,” and “unbelievably and fabulously gay.” After rediscovering and reconstructing the story from Danish, German, Frisian, Pete made the story available to everyone. Queer fairytales are out there. We all deserve our happy endings.
August 20, 2020
🎶 I Want The World To Know 🎶
I’m a sucker for a good coming out story, and Shivani Dave just took the cake. As reported by GayTimes, the BBC radio Wilshire presenter started the show by playing “I’m Coming Out” by Dianna Ross (iconic move), and talking about what coming out means for the LGBTQ+ community. Shivani came out as nonbinary and gave an excellent lesson on what the identity means. They said “Non-binary actually means a lot of different things to different people. For me, it just means I don’t identify with being a man or woman. I’m sort of outside those two options – I’m just a person.” Shivani dedicated their public coming out to “show other non-binary people that they should be proud to embrace who they are.”
Shedding Light on the Queer Women of the Suffrage Movement
August 18th, 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the passage of the United State’s 19th Amendment, which made it legal for women to vote. However, other laws that made it illegal for non-white women to vote were not removed until fifty years later with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Celebrating the milestone, the New York Times published a piece highlighting the power of queer women in the suffrage movement. Many of the vocal advocates for women’s right to vote were in queer relationships, such as prominent leaders Molly Dewson and Polly Porter. The right to vote was an extension of their desire to live life according to their terms. These women boldly lived outside of the boxes that were created for them, while fighting for the rights of all women.
Into the Spirit World: Queer Characters in Animation
Animated TV shows straddle the line between children’s and adult enjoyment. They’re often places where both audiences can enjoy the rich storytelling, gorgeous art, and bold characters. In the last few months, Netflix has released two of the most beloved animated series: Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. Since ATLA first aired in 2005, the show solidified its place in history as one of the most perfect pieces of storytelling (I’ll fight for this). The long-awaited sequel came with Legend of Korra, which ended in 2014. Since becoming available, fans have relived the undeniable power in the last scene of the show, where the lead characters Korra and Asami hold hands and look lovingly into each others eyes. In the last six years, representation of queer characters in animation has exploded. We have Steven Universe, She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, and now The Owl House, where queer characters are front and center from the beginning. These are often shows young kids watch, sometimes with families. The importance of being able to see yourself represented at such a young age is incomparable. Seeing Korra and Asami hold hands when I was 19 broke me open, gave me hope for myself and my future. I saw everything when I saw them together. As Zosha Millman wrote for their incredible piece in Vulture, “Legend of Korra walked so queer characters on kids TV could kiss.”
August 13, 2020
“High School is Hard Enough”
In an unprecedented ruling, the US Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit (which serves districts in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia) ruled that all trans students need to have equal access to restrooms that match their gender. This case was the first in the country to involve a trans student’s equal access to bathrooms. In an interview with Lambda Legal, the plaintiff Drew Adams said “I am very happy to see justice prevail, after spending almost my entire high school career fighting for equal treatment.” In an argument for equal access, Drew also said, “high school is hard enough without having your school separate you from your peers and mark you as inferior.” While this ruling only legally applies to the schools in the 11th Circuit, the ruling can be cited as precedent for any other schools trying to implement the same policy.
“Dreams Really Do Come True”
We all knew I couldn’t stay away from TikTok. My “for you page” has been a rotation of Avatar: The Last Airbender content, art, and endlessly cute queer couples. One of those couples is college sweethearts and parents Terrell and Jarius. Good Morning America just covered the couple’s journey from couple-hood to homeowners to parents to one million followers on TikTok. After falling in love in college, they were eager to start their life together. In 2016, just a year after graduating, they bought a house and tried to expand their family. When one surrogate struggled to become pregnant, they began trying with another surrogate. Shockingly, both surrogates became pregnant and Terell and Jarius’ children were born weeks apart. The couple is sharing their lives in hopes to show the diversity and joy in same-sex parenting. I can’t wait to celebrate this beautiful family for years to come!
Dignity for All
Trans people who are incarcerated face some of the highest rates of mistreatment. After the settlement of a discrimination lawsuit in Steuben County in New York, new prison policies are being implemented to protect the lives and dignity of trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, and intersex incarcerated people. As reported by NBC News new policy would add protections around clothing, grooming items, preferred names, housing, and healthcare. David Brown, the legal director of the Transgender Legal and Education Fund, said that the policy is “workable, and we know it can be applied in every county in the state.”
August 6, 2020
Body & Beauty with Mina Gerges
While I have a shameful lack of knowledge about RuPaul’s Drag Race, I thought I knew what was going on. One thing no one told me about was the Pit Crew. Honestly, I’m a little glad my first introduction to this tradition was through Mina Gerges on Canada’s Drag Race. As reported by Out, Mina Gerges is bringing body diversity to the Pit Crew. While he didn’t know he would be the first and only plus-sized member of the Pit Crew, he said he “knew I needed to be there so that the young gay kids watching the show can see a bigger body and stretch marks and learn to be kinder to themselves.” Mina, who is a model and an activist, grew up in Egypt, where it is illegal to be any part of the LGBTQ+ acronym. In an interview with Out, Mina said that they are ” a proud gay gender-fluid person, and everything I do in my work today is to reclaim my culture and my heritage from the homophobia and bigotry that’s engrained in it.”
“My Beautiful, Healthy, Unique, Non-binary, Intersex Body”
This week marked a huge step forward for intersex people. One of the United States’ most prestigious hospitals, Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, just issued a public apology to the intersex people harmed due to unnecessary treatments, reported by Teen Vogue. After tireless activism by the Intersex Justice Project, the hospital also vowed to stop performing intersex surgeries on children unable to consent, unless medically necessary. Intersex surgery has a long and painful history where doctors perform surgery on infants and children to make their genitalia match the doctor’s interpretation of their sex. Activist Pidgeon Pagonis, a co-founder of the Intersex Justice Project, is celebrating this win for the “autonomy of future intersex children and patients.”
Royal Calls for Change
The world has been reckoning with the dangers of conversion therapy for decades. The practice is illegal in only five countries around the world and only twenty states in the United States. As reported by Forbes, one of the latest voices to join the fight against conversion therapy is the world’s first openly gay prince: Prince Manvendra Singh Gohil of Gujarat, India. A survivor of conversion therapy himself, the prince is calling for conversion therapy to be illegal in India and across the world.
July 30, 2020
Landmark Decision in Mexico City
Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, just made history with its decision this week to ban conversion therapy. Mexico City is the first jurisdiction to ban the incredibly damaging practice, as reported by them. This move follows many others in North America and around the world to ban conversion therapy.
“Their Children Have a Future”
The security and comfort that an incredible educator can offer a struggling student are indescribable. In my life, teachers were the ones who showed me what positive and diverse queer experiences look like. Students in Oak Park, Michigan are so lucky to have Owen Bondono, a queer and trans ninth-grade language arts teacher. His dedication to making his students succeed is evident in all of his work. Owen was recently named Michigan Teacher of the Year. As reported by the Advocate, he said, “I want educators to see that it’s urgently necessary that we support these students. I want students to see that they are supported and loved and that their future is possible. I want parents of LGBTQ students to see that their children have a future.”
“Compassion is Worth More”
When Edafe Okporo fled Nigeria and came to the United States as a refugee in 2016, he focused on one thing: survival. As a gay man and LGBTQ+ activist, he faced homophobia from peers and Nigeria’s government. As he applied for asylum in the US, he was detained and almost deported. Since he arrived, Edafe has been working as an artist. As reported by NBC News, Edafe persuaded the RDJ Refugee Shelter to transform into a full-time shelter for asylum-seekers. The shelter provides beds, clean bathrooms, food, and additional resources for people who were in the same position as Edafe. In addition to his monumental work, Edafe spoke to NBC News about his personal life. When discussing being publicly affectionate with his boyfriend, Edafe said, “I have wanted to be open about my sexuality all my life. There is no way I’m going to hide it.”
July 23, 2020
Love & Marriage in Ireland
The road to marriage equality across the world has been long and fraught. In 2019, Northern Ireland legalized same-sex marriage, and couples began holding ceremonies in February of 2020. However, a small hiccup in the law legalized only secular marriages; religious ones could be held but would not be legally binding. Last week, legislators put forth a plan to allow same-sex religious marriages, as reported by them. Starting in September, all queer couples, religious or secular, in Northern Ireland will have the right to marry.
ICYMI: Ketchum’s West Virginia Win
Last month, West Virginia voters made history by electing Rosemary Ketchum to the Wheeling City Council. She is the first trans woman to be elected into any public office in West Virginia. Her election is part of the “Rainbow Wave”: since 2018, there has been a massive surge in electing LGBTQ+ candidates into office. In an interview with the West Virginia Gazette, Rosemary said she “secretly maybe wanted to run for office” but felt like she ““I wasn’t even sure I had the permission to do something like that.” In a sentiment that is shared with LGBTQ+ people across the world, she said “It’s going to take a long time to heal those wounds. But this past election is the first healing of a lot of trauma.”
The Best Gender Reveal
Gender reveal parties have become wildly popular and equally polarizing. Love Gwaltney posted a series of photos on Facebook with the expected setup: pink and blue balloons, a cake with matching sprinkles, and a pregnant couple happily smiling. The couple opens a box to reveal yellow, purple, and black balloons (the colors of the nonbinary flag), and their son, Grey. In the post, Love writes “We wanted to announce that we got it wrong 17 years ago when we told the world we were having a little girl. So, we’d like to introduce you to our SON: Grey.” Trans kids and adults have been messaging Love. To them, she writes “I hate that so many of you in the trans community were not given the love and acceptance you all deserve. I see you. I hear you. I am your new mom now!” This is exactly the uplifting, and affirming news we need this week!
July 16, 2020
Live with Leonie Dorado
Bolivia’s news program Aby Ayala TV just welcomed their new cohost, Leonie Dorado. She is the first trans news anchor in Bolivian history and she plans to use her new platform to “educate Bolivia on LGBTQ+ issues, using her own trans experience as a catalyst.” As reported by the Advocate, Leonie said that “The LGBT community is a group of millions of people who demand human rights, labor rights, rights to have their lives respected. That is what has moved me to be part of this project.”
Trans Lifeline Spanish Expansion
Trans Lifeline has been a cornerstone resource for trans people since its inception six years ago. As reported by NBC News, the organization noticed an increase in calls from Spanish-speaking trans people, particularly trans immigrants. This week, the organization launched its Spanish language hotline. When callers reach out to the Trans Lifeline, they have the option of speaking to someone in Spanish or English. The organization is also partnering with others who are able to provide more resources regarding immigration and legal questions. This expansion is a huge move forward in helping all members of the trans community.
Rest in Power, Naya
It’s hard to truly articulate what Naya Rivera and her performance as Santana Lopez on Glee means to me. Glee was that show for many queer kids of my generation, and Santana was that girl. She had a quick wit and a sharp tongue, a voice of gold, and a fire to be known. She was the first time I saw another girl in high school struggling with her sexuality, with being in love with another girl, with coming out to her family. Naya gave a voice, awoke a whole generation of queer girls who never saw themselves on screen. them. compiled a beautiful collection of remembrances of Naya Rivera. Naya, you saved my life and the lives of so many other queer people. We love you, forever. Rest in power.
July 9, 2020
The pandemic has hit small businesses hard, and the iconic Stonewall Inn is no exception. After a police raid on the queer bar in 1969, the resulting uprise marked the beginning of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. As reported by the Washington Blade, the Stonewall Inn was able to receive a massive donation from the Gill Foundation that allowed them to stay open. Co-owners Stacy Lentz and Kurt Kelly said in an interview with the Blade that “as the first and only LGBTQ National Monument, Stonewall is home not only to the history of our community, but also the history of our city and country.”
A Lost Painting & A Queer Icon
The discovery of Sappho and her poems were a revelation to a young and confused me. Her poems about loving women were a confirmation that my feelings weren’t abnormal. That queerness and loving women went as far back as the seventh century. A watercolor from 1864, titled “Sappho and Erinna in a Garden at Mytilene,” will be one of the first queer paintings of two women available to audiences. Created by gay, Jewish artist Simeon Solomon, the piece is only one in a long career of focusing on gender and sexuality. According to curator Dr. Roberto C. Ferrari in an interview with CNN, Solomon’s art strived for “the idea of gender and love is supposed to surpass the human limitations of this binary system that exists in our society.”
Billboard Celebrating Beauty
Beauty and fashion companies have been promoting a version of beauty that has long excluded much of the world. With their 2020 Pride Campaign, clothing brand Calvin Klein highlighted model and activist Jari Jones on their iconic New York City billboard. In an interview with Bustle, she said that “the fact that somebody like me — a trans woman, a Black woman, a plus-sized woman — is being celebrated at such a high caliber, it brings me back to the people who fought for me to get there. So often, when these accomplishments are made, people are like, ‘You did this all by yourself.’ No, I’m the result of a whole bunch of communities that have made it possible for me to continue the lineage of activism and representation.” We are so excited by this positive step towards inclusion and can’t wait for more.
June 25, 2020
From Breakfast to Midnight Snack
Anyone who was of Disney-watching age in the 2000’s knows who the incredible Raven-Symoné is. Talented, outspoken, and brave, Raven is an icon to all. After coming out in 2016, she has continued to be a force of joy in the world. She shared her experience in her It Got Better video (watch here!). Well, this weekend, she got married in a backyard celebration to Miranda Pearman-Maday. In an Instagram post announcing the celebration, Raven said “I got married to a woman who understands me from trigger to joy, from breakfast to midnight snack, from stage to home. I love you Mrs. Pearman-Maday!” Congrats, congrats, congrats!
Hair for Change
As my personal icon Phoebe Waller-Bridge has said, “Hair is everything.” For trans people, hair is a way do alleviate gender dysphoria and be gendered appropriately by people. We all know quarantine has made it hard to get a haircut, but the lack of them has caused trans people to experience anxiety. That’s where the Trans Clippers Project comes in. Founded by Klie Kliebert, the project works with local organizers to provided free hair clippers to trans people who can not afford them and are experiencing dysphoria and misgendering during the pandemic. As Klie said in an interview with them., “It’s more than just a haircut.”
Acceptance & Fatherhood
For many queer kids, finding acceptance and love from our parents is a long process. For Iv Fischer, her process included a brave post from her father on Facebook. Iv said “what my father did, what my family has done, is awe inspiring.” As reported by BET, Brown said “Fatherhood means responsibility. Fatherhood means doing everything necessary to ensure the safety, shelter, food and clothing — all of the nurturing things that your child needs. And it never ends.” We hope all queer kids have this love and acceptance in their lives.
June 17, 2020
Protection For All
We couldn’t start this blog without highlighting the biggest moment of joy to happen out of the Supreme Court. On Monday, June 15, in a 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court made it illegal for employers to discriminate because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. 21 states already had protections for the LGBTQ+ community in job discrimination. This ruling will protect all LGBTQ+ people across all 50 states. We are so grateful to all of the original plaintiffs whose cases brought about this monumental change: Aimee Stephens, Donald Zarda, and Gerald Bostock.
On Sunday, June 14th, thousands of people marched from Hollywood to West Hollywood in California in support of the Black LGBTQ+ community. Known as the All Black Lives Matter march, it was organized to highlight the specific oppression that Black LGBTQ+ people face. This huge and public display of solidarity for and commitment to Black queer and trans people during Pride month made our hearts swell with joy. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, march participant Kimiko McCarthy said that she wanted to be at the march to “represent both sides of who I am.”
“Love is what it will be”
Alyssa Kayhill is an outstanding person: accomplished musician, LGBTQ+ advocate, and cardiology nurse at the Brooklyn Hospital Center. When the pandemic hit her city of New York, Alyssa was transferred to the ICU to work with COVID-19 patients. To keep her girlfriend of almost eight years safe, Alyssa suggested Anhlinh Trinh, move in with Anhlinh’s brother in upstate New York. Moved by how much she missed and loved Anhlinh, Alyssa decided to propose during the nightly 7pm clap for nurses. What Anhlinh thought was just a welcome home party immediately turned into a proposal when Alyssa got down on one knee. It was the first time in three months that the couple was able to see each other. As reported by Pink News, inscribed in her engagement ring were the lyrics from a song Alyssa wrote for Anhlinh: “Love is what it will be.”
June 11, 2020
A Platform for Good
Indya Moore, the iconic star of Pose, has been using their platform to raise money for trans women of color affected by COVID-19. Since the beginning of the pandemic, they have raised over $20,000 to help trans women of color pay for “food, rent, and gender-affirming care.” In an interview with NBC News, Indya said that they “try to use myself as a conduit to connect my fan base to my community.” Indya has since used their platform to redirect donations to G.L.I.T.S., an organization aiming to provide housing for Black trans people recently released from Rikers Island in New York City.
In a powerful Instagram post, actor Justice Smith comes out as queer, announces his relationship with fellow actor Nicholas Ashe, and writes about the importance of including trans and queer people in the Black Lives Matter movement. In his post, Justice wrote “What should have been given to black, queer, and trans individuals from the beginning. Which is the right to exist. To live and prosper in public.”
“Love is the Answer”
Graduates across the world deserve to have their hard work celebrated. On Sunday, June 7th, YouTube hosted a virual commencement celebration named “Dear Class of 2020.” Our favorite fashion, acting, and singing icon Billy Porter addressed LGBTQ+ graduates with an emotional speech: “I’m so proud of you all…I’m talking to the allies out there as well. We thank you. As you embark on your lives, know that love is the answer. Leading with that, always, is how we make change in this world, and how we make it for good.”
June 4, 2020
This week’s Moments of Joy has been replaced by Moments of Power, a collection of stories, resources, and education materials geared at uplifting, empowering, and connecting Black LGBTQ+ youth and their allies. The It Gets Better Project will not stop fighting for your right to boldly and safely exist in the world. You are seen. You are heard. You are loved.
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.