Best Queer Moments in Pop Culture in 2018

by Ian Carlos Crawford

In 2018 we’ve all aged approximately 200 years, so it’s nice to take a moment and remember some of the good we got this year.

While the news cycle was a complete dumpster fire, we actually got a lot of great queer pop culture moments. So let’s review…

16. The Magicians pop culture talk: The Magicians is a highly underrated show that’s also very queer. Elliot (played perfectly by Hale Appleman) and Margo (als played perfectly by Summer Bishil) are two best friends who barely tolerate their friends/fellow magicians. They feel like characters pulled from Mean Girls or Heathers who were then thrown into the world of Harry Potter. So hearing them speak in pop culture code is really freakin’ fantastic, especially pop culture code that references the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gossip Girl, X-Men, Britney Spears, and The Craft. It was an iconic pop culture moment, made even better because it involved a queer character and some iconic 90s/early 00s queer pop culture references.

15. RuPaul’s Drag Race holiday special: The episode starred a bunch of former fan-favorite RPDR contestants doing holiday themed looks and singing holiday songs. Nothing was taken seriously and everyone was having fun. Outside of a gay bar, where else could you see a drag queen dressed as a Christmas angel tree topper (hello, Trixie Mattel).

14. The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Boy Erased: It’s really important for people to know the very real, very dangerous conversion therapy still exists in 2018. It’s not real science, it’s not real therapy, and it has such a terrible lasting effect on anyone put through it. Both stories portray young kids going through this horrible ordeal and, as Cameron Post asks, “How is programming people to hate themselves not emotional abuse?” Not quite uplifting queer stories, but important ones nonetheless.

13. RPDR’s Willam and Shangela in A Star is Born: Willam and Shangela are two (of many) breakout stars from RuPaul’s Drag Race — and now they’ve starred in what will likely be an Oscar winning film. A Star Is Born’s Ally (played by L Gaga herself) meets Bradley Cooper’s Jack while singing “La Vie en Rose” in a drag bar in NYC. William and Shangela both are said to have improvised a lot fo their lines — and anyone who has ever been to a gay bar in NYC knows how this scene particularly felt spot on. It was great seeing two drag queens featured in a big studio film not just used for punch lines. They were Ally’s friends and even send her a supportive video later on in the film once she becomes famous.

12. The Favourite: A lesbian love triangle comedy-drama period piece. That’s basically all you need to know — but everyone involved is doing the most and in the best way. Also, Nicholas Hoult in wigs.

11. Deadpool 2’s Yukiyo and Negasonic Teenage Warhead: While they didn’t get nearly enough screen time, they were still our first big screen queer superhero couple. And while the Deadpool movies exist in a weird limbo between the X-Men and MCU Marvel movies (Deadpool constantly references Hugh Jackman and also John Brolin’s Thanos) it’s nice to see Marvel make a step in the right direction. Also, they were both super pivotal in helping Deadpool during the final fight.

10. Can You Ever Forgive Me?: Queer friendship is an almost completely overlooked theme in media that most definitely deserves more attention. McCarthy’s Lee Israel and Richard E. Grant’s Jack Hock meet at the famous NYC gay bar Julius at the peak of the AIDS crisis in the 80s. Their friendship feels real as does their inevitable falling out. As does Israel’s struggles as a queer writer trying to make it in NYC. The real-life plot of her forging letters feels almost besides the point.

9. One Day At A Time’s Elena storyline: Last year, this show made a big impact by telling Elena’s (Isabella Gomez) coming out story — which was both heartbreaking and beautiful. But this year we got to watch Elena grow as a queer character. It absolutely peaked when her non-binary love interest, Syd (played by Sheridan Pierce) gave her a prom-posal to Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire” but with feminist lyrics. Syd and Elena were the cute, nerdy queer teen couple we needed. And how cute were they together at prom?

8. Troye Sivan’s renaissance: From his friendship with Ariana Grande, to his songs about gay sex — Troye Sivan had a stellar 2018. It was so nice to see a young queer person thrive. His music is great, he’s got the acting chops, and have you heard that accent? Troye Sivan has the range.

7. That Steven Universe Wedding: Steven Universe has always been a very precious, very wonderfully queer cartoon. The show is a good at making you genuinely feel for these characters — from alien blobs, to gem aliens to little kids called Onion.. But they upped their game this year by having not only the first same-sex cartoon marriage proposal but also the first same sex wedding.

6. Theo from The Haunting of Hill House: This series was good for many reasons (family, trauma, spooky A+ horror, twists all around) but Theo was absolutely the standout character. Queer trauma isn’t usually something often explored outside the context of a hate crime. She’s also the only member of her family who has ::ahem:: special powers — making her feel even more singled out. And we’ve all seen X-Men, superpowers as a metaphor for queerness work really well. Theo is messy, selfish, but also going through a process. She won’t let anyone tell her how to act or how to grieve — the truest form of someone going through grief with added queerness.

5. Love, Simon: This movie is everything we deserve from a gay teen romcom. This movie is beautiful in its simplicity. Anyone can relate to this movie — but especially if you grew up closeted in the suburbs. Not all parents are as supportive as Simon’s parents are but having them be so supportive was important to this movie. Also, having other out characters around Simon was important too — coming out can be hard even if everyone around you is incredibly supportive. See this movie.

4. Pose: Ryan Murphy can be very hit (American Horror Story: Asylum) or miss (American Horror Story: Cult) but this series was most definitely one of the high points of his career. This show is based around the ballroom scene in NYC in the 80s and achieves greatness. The cast is mainly trans women of color and they all shine incredibly bright while navigating the homophobic, racist, transphobic 80s that feel relevant today in 2018.

3. Janelle Monae’s Dirty Computer: Not only did Janelle Monae put out one of the best albums of the year, but she also came out as queer in an interview for Rolling Stone. Monae had been making waves with her outstanding pop music, great acting roles, and iconic red carpet looks before this year — but she truly cemented herself as queer icon this year. And it’s nice to have a queer icon pop star who is ::gasp:: actually queer! She’s also inclusive as hell, making sure to tweet, “Thank you to the incomparable & brilliant @TessaThompson_x for helping celebrate US (no matter if you have a vagina or not) all around the world! We see you. We celebrate you” after releasing her video for “PYNK.”

2. Adam Rippon: This out Olympic figure skater had quite the year. He took home the bronze medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics, becoming the first openly gay U.S. male athlete to win a medal in a Winter Olympics, and then later he won Dancing with the Stars, becoming the first openly gay celebrity to win the competition. He was named to the TIME 100 List of Most Influential People of 2018 with an introduction written by freakin’ Cher. He was one of the ::ahem:: Matthew Shepard Foundation 2018 Making A Difference Award Recepients. He made the Out100 alongside fellow out athlete Gus Kentworthy. Also, he was invited to a private meeting with Mike Pence — and declined because he had no time for Pence’s bullshit.

  1. Emma González takes a stand: A survivor. An activist. An icon. On February 14th, she survived the shooting at her high school and has made it her mission to put an end to gun violence. An out, latinx teen taking a stand is iconic and truly something to make us all hopeful. Her speeches are empowering and impassioned — she is a true hero. She was also named the Out100 Newsmaker of the Year.

About the author:

Ian Carlos Crawford grew up in southern New Jersey and, like most people from NJ, he graduated from Rutgers University. He then graduated from New School with an MFA in nonfiction writing. His writing has appeared on sites like Geeks Out, BuzzFeed, NewNowNext, and other random corners of the internet. He currently co-hosts a podcast about his favorite thing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, called Slayerfest 98 and is shopping around his fiction manuscript (you can view the book trailer here). Follow him on Twitter @ianxcarlos.