Biggest LGBTQ stories of 2021

It’s been a big year for the LGBTQ community and is taking a look back at the biggest stories to make headlines so far. First up? In May on the new podcast “4D with Demi Lovato,” the pop star came out as non-binary and announced new pronouns: they/them. “I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am, and am still discovering,” they explained. It’s not the first time Demi has opened up about their sexuality or gender identity. Back in 2015, following the release of hit single “Cool for the Summer,” which featured lyrics flicking at sexual fluidity, Demi hinted in an interview on “Chatty Man” that they weren’t straight. They also were romantically linked to a woman back in 2017 after previously only publicly dating men. And in March 2021, Demi did an interview on the “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast clearing up their sexuality, confirming they are pansexual. “[I like] anything, really,” they said. “I heard someone call the LGBTQIA+ community ‘the alphabet mafia.’ … That’s it! That’s what I’m going with. I’m part of the alphabet mafia and proud.”

Keep reading to see more notable moments in the celebrity LGBTQ community this year…

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Elliot Page — who was previously known as Ellen Page — took to social media to publicly come out as transgender in December 2020. The “Juno” and “Umbrella Academy” actor’s announcement was made six years after Elliot publicly came out as gay back in 2014. Then in January 2021, Elliot shared that he was divorcing dancer-choreographer Emma Portner, whom he married in 2018. In March, Elliot became the first transgender man to appear on the cover of Time magazine. In the accompanying story, the “Umbrella Academy” star revealed that they underwent top surgery to remove breast tissue. “It has completely transformed my life,” he told Time, adding that it was “not only life-changing but lifesaving.” And a few months later, Elliot celebrated another big first…

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Elliot Page took to Instagram in May to document another big first. That month, Elliot shared a photo of himself shirtless and wearing swim trunks, captioning the snap, “Trans bb’s first swim trunks #transjoy #transisbeautiful”. The month prior, Elliot opened up to Oprah Winfrey about his transition, sharing, “I want people to know that not only has it been life changing for me, I do believe it is life-saving and it’s the case for so many people.”

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After days of dropping hints, in January, social media star, singer and actress JoJo Siwa confirmed that she’s a member of the LGBTQ community. “I have never, ever, ever been this happy before and it feels really awesome,” she told fans in a lengthy Instagram Live video. The announcement came one day after she tweeted a photo of herself wearing a T-shirt that read “Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever.” alongside the caption, “My cousin got me a new shirt.” The “Dance Moms” alum, who’d also recently shared a TikTok video of herself singing along to Lady Gaga’s LGBTQ anthem “Born This Way,” told fans she wasn’t ready to choose a specific label for herself “because I don’t really know this answer.” She added that her parents have known she’s not straight and are supportive. “Around two years ago, [my mom] was like, ‘I don’t think you only like boys, that’s totally OK.’ … My family is awesome.” A few weeks later, JoJo revealed she had a girlfriend who’d encouraged her to come out, Kylie Prew. She opened up more about her sexuality in April 2021, telling People magazine, “I still don’t know what I am… I don’t know, bisexual, pansexual, queer, lesbian, gay, straight. I always just say gay because it just kind of covers it or queer because I think the keyword is cool.” However, she added, “I like queer. Technically, I would say that I am pansexual because that’s how I have always been my whole life is just like, my human is my human.”

“The Bachelor” season 23 lead Colton Underwood — who became known as the virgin Bachelor during his tenure on the show — went on “Good Morning America” in April to make an announcement about his sexuality. The reality star came out on the morning show, sharing, “I’ve ran from myself for a long time. I’ve hated myself for a long time. And I’m gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it. And the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know.” Colton previously dated women — he had high-profile relationships with Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and Bachelor Nation stars Tia Booth and Cassie Randolph in recent years. Of sharing the news with the public, the former professional football player — who said he knew he was “different” when he was 6 — told Robin Roberts that now, he’s “the happiest and healthiest” he’s ever been.

The classic Nickelodeon cartoon “Rugrats” is making a change for its Paramount+ reboot, it was announced in May. The character of Betty DeVille, the mom of twins Phil and Lil, is openly gay in this version. Actress Natalie Morales, who came out as queer in 2017, is replacing original voice actress Kath Soucie as Betty.

In February, T.J. Osborne — the frontman for duo Brothers Osborne — came out in an interview with Time magazine. The country crooner shared that although he’s been out to his family and friends for years, the coronavirus pandemic inspired him to share his life truth with fans. “I’m very proud to put this out there,” T.J. said in a video he posted on Instagram. “I want you to know … the person you’ve gotten to know over the years is me. Now you’ve just gotten to know more about me.” With that announcement, T.J. became the first and only openly gay man signed to a major music label in the country genre. He was met with tons of support from the country music community on social media.

“Pose” star Billy Porter — the first openly gay Black man to win a best lead actor in a drama Emmy — made a major health reveal in May: He’s HIV positive and has been living with the disease for 14 years. He broke the news to The Hollywood Reporter, explaining that though he was diagnosed in June 2007, he didn’t share the news publicly because he worried it would affect his career. “It would just be another way for people to discriminate against me in an already discriminatory profession,” he said.

Former WWE superstar Gabbi Tuft — who wrestled under the name Tyler Reks from 2007 to 2014 — came out as a transgender woman in February. She opened up to “Extra” host Billy Bush about the announcement, noting, “I know that there are thousands of transgender women, transgender men that are going through the same process I’m going through, and they don’t have the support that I do.” Gabbi, who said wife Priscilla had been her rock during the process, wanted to give others some hope by sharing her story. “And so here’s what I pledge: I promise that I will share my story and be 100% transparent, because knowing that there is a light at the end of the tunnel can just be that ray of hope that keeps somebody with us, that keeps him alive, and lets them know, ‘Yes, I can do this too,'” she said.

In May, Caitlyn Jenner — who in April launched a campaign for California governor in hopes of replacing the state’s current leader, Gavin Newsom, in a recall election — voiced her controversy-sparking opinion that transgender athletes should not participate in sports that align with their gender identities, telling TMZ she sees it as “a question of fairness.” The former Olympic gold medalist — who publicly came out as a trans woman in 2015 — added, “That’s why I oppose biological boys who are trans competing in girls’ sports in school. It just isn’t fair. And we have to protect girls’ sports in our schools.”  

Life imitates art! Inspired by his character on “9-1-1: Lone Star” — who’s openly gay on the show — actor Ronen Rubinstein publicly came out this year. “I fully identify as bisexual,” the actor told Variety in April.”I literally just got goosebumps saying that. It feels so good to talk about it, it feels so good to finally be comfortable with it.” The “Orange Is the New Black” alum credited his character’s same-sex relationship on “Lonestar” as well as real-life girlfriend Jessica Parker Kennedy for giving him the courage to come out. “She definitely encouraged me to be vocal about it, just to live my truth,” Ronen explained. “She’s like, ‘I love you for who you are, your full self and people will love you for who you are and your full self.'”

America made history in March: Dr. Rachel Levine became the first openly transgender federal official to be confirmed by the Senate. She is now assistant secretary for health in the Department of Health and Human Services. She previously served as Pennsylvania’s secretary of health.

Imagine Dragons lead singer Dan Reynolds donated his $1 million childhood home to the nonprofit Encircle in March. The group provides safe spaces that provide programs and therapy for LGBTQ youth and their families. His generous gift gave the group its first home in Las Vegas, as they’ve previously been operating solely in Utah. 

In February, almost 200 LGBTQ actors in Germany came together to stage a mass coming out in a national newspaper: 185 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender actors published the announcement that not only shared their own sexual or gender identities but called for change in the entertainment world and more LGBTQ representation in scripts. Actress Karin Hanczewski, seen here, was instrumental in planning the mass coming out.

In a sign that some religious communities are becoming more accepting of the LGBTQ community, in May, Meghan Rohrer was elected as the first openly transgender bishop within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Meghan — who in 2006 became the first openly trans person to be ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America — will lead about 200 congregations in California and Nevada as bishop of the Sierra Pacific Synod.

Another singer who opened up about their sexuality this year? Kehlani, who shared a revelation about her sexual identity in April: The R&B singer took to TikTok to explain that she now identifies as a lesbian. “I finally know I’m a lesbian,” she said. “I am gay, g-gay, gay.” She previously stated on Twitter back in 2018, “I’m queer. Not bi, not straight. I’m attracted to women, men, REALLY attracted to queer men, non binary people, intersex people, trans people.”

In January, Nats Getty — the spouse of social media star Gigi Gorgeous — revealed that they are transgender and non-binary. Nats is the great-grandchild of oil magnate John Paul Getty; California Governor Gavin Newsom is their godfather. 

One of President Joe Biden’s first actions after taking office was to sign an executive order that overturned a controversial ban on transgender individuals serving in the U.S. military that was put into place by former President Donald Trump. 

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