By Christine Siamanta Kinori
2021 was a monumental year for LGBTQ+ representation, from Lil Nas X’s provocative performances to queer superheroes saving the day in the latest Marvel movie. As 2021 comes to an end, let’s look back at our favorite LGBTQ+ moments in pop-culture.
JoJo Siwa coming out
The YouTube sensation came out in January by sharing a photo of herself wearing a shirt gifted to her by her cousin with the instantly iconic words “Best Gay Cousin Ever” written across it. She explained over social media her decision to come out and the news was well received with her fans who immediately rallied behind her. This was a significant moment, especially for LGBTQ+ youth around the world. As we can understand, coming out is scary for most queer kids. It was meaningful for a child star like JoJo who was just 17 to publicly speak about her sexual orientation. It goes to show that kids can also know their sexual orientation from a young age and it empowers them to talk about it when they feel ready. Her recent accomplishment to be the first to compete with a same-sex partner on Dancing with the Stars further shows how she is breaking barriers and advocating for the queer community in media.
Lil Nas X dominating the music charts
Lil Nas X put his sexuality front and center of his debut album Montero and we loved every homoerotic moment of it. In March, the video for the album’s lead single “Montero (Call Me by Your Name)” showed him pole-dancing his way into the fiery pits of hell. The rapper was however undeterred by the haters and continued to serve explicitly queer performances, including his BET awards set in which he shared a passionate kiss with one of his back-up dancers. He went on to release another record-shattering song, “Industry Baby” with similarly proactive dance moves. His success is an amazing feat given that he is the first publicly out black gay rapper. He is single-handedly revolutionizing hip-hop culture and it is an impactful movement to witness. He proved that he is a top-charting musician, and that talent is talent no matter the artist’s sexual orientation. Lil Nas X also wowed us with his bold sense of fashion and made a statement with every outfit. Whether it was in music or fashion, he slayed.
The Rainbow Tokyo Olympics
This was a historic Olympics because for the first time in history, there were at least 168 LGBTQ2s+ athletes competing in Tokyo. It is no wonder it was referred to as the Rainbow Olympic since it was the most inclusive Olympic ever. The increase in numbers of LGBTQ+ athletes is a direct reflection of the growing acceptance, not only in sports, but across the world as well. Hopefully we shall see more acceptance in the sports industry and more LGBTQ+ athletes will feel safe to come out without the worry that it would jeopardize their lives or careers.
Bretman Rock becoming the first openly gay man on the cover of Playboy
The queer beauty influencer became the first gay man to don the famed bunny ears for Playboy’s cover. This is as iconic for the magazine as it is for the LGBTQ+ community. It shows that the magazine is serious in its desire to break barriers for the LGBTQ+ community and it is a step towards inclusion and diversity in fashion and modeling. Bretman is an outspoken queer advocate and his cover was inspirational.
Queer superheroes saving the day in Marvel’s Eternals
Marvel broke new ground after announcing one of the characters in their upcoming blockbuster would be gay. This was unexpected given Marvel’s past reluctance to explicitly portray queer relationships. The comic book world had previously been frustratingly restrictive, and it was hard to suddenly change the sexuality of these well-known and beloved characters. Luckily, this film allowed for new adaptation without directly conflicting with the original source material. Most major film studios have been afraid to pursue queer storylines in high-budget blockbusters because of criticism from socially conservative countries. Eternals has already been pulled from Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia because of its inclusion of the same-sex couple. However, most of the fans are happy with the storyline and praise Eternals for being one of the most diverse MCU films and hope for more LGBTQ+ superhero storylines.
These are my favorite queer moments in pop culture this year. What are yours?
About the Author:
Christine Siamanta Kinori grew up in a little village in Kenya known as Loitoktok near the border of Kenya and Tanzania. All she wanted to do when she grew up was to explore the world. Her curiosity led her to join Nairobi University to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She later got a job with an amazing travel magazine Nomad Africa which gave her the opportunity to explore Africa. She also writes for numerous travel websites about Africa and tries to create a new narrative in the media about our aesthetic continent.
Christine claims to have somewhat unhealthy addiction to TV and reading, as it is a fun way to keep herself occupied during the long journeys for her travel writing. She is also a believer of letting people be their beautiful selves. To her, love is love and it is the greatest gift we have as humans.