Brick by brick, it feels like the wall of LGBTI rights across the world is becoming stronger.
For those who believe in equality, rights for LGBTI people is moving at a lightning speed. And for those who don’t, it’s becoming worse.
But because there are more places that believe gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people deserve rights, the spotlight is on these homophobic and transphobic places like never before.
If no one cared about the community, the world would never have acted in several ways that could only have happened in 2014.
And here are some of those moments:
1) Gay marriage wins
In both the US and the UK, the majority of people are now able to enter into a same-sex marriage.
The US now has 35 states (at the time of writing), with Florida soon to follow, with gay marriage laws.
England and Wales celebrated the enacting of the law in March, with Scotland following in December.
2) Sochi Winter Olympics
The Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 will go down in history as the event that made gay rights not just an issue to discuss, but the center of a civil rights firestorm.
With Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law a dark cloud over the worldwide sporting event, there were arrests, protests and beatings.
But people stood up against injustices against the LGBTI community like never before. Read more here.
3) RuPaul’s Drag Race angers trans people
RuPaul’s Drag Race is one of the most gay-friendly shows out there, but that didn’t mean they were free from criticism this year.
In one episode which aired in March, an ill-advised segment involved the queens looking at up-close photographs and choosing whether the lady was ‘biological’ or ‘psychological’ (a drag queen).
With the ‘You’ve Got She-Mail’ tag that announces the challenge for each episode, trans activists were furious by the lack of sensitivity.
Logo eventually apologized, and removed the tag and the segment from all future episodes of the season.
4) Westboro Baptist Church founder dies
Fred Phelps, the founder of the Westboro Baptist Church, died at the age of 84 in March.
And with it, the gasps of the ‘God Hates Fags’ group remain. While they have attempted to capitalize on numerous tragedies this year, most famously Robin Williams’ death, they are weak.
In the past few years, several members have left and it now only consists of a few remaining followers – nearly all family members of Phelps. Who knows how long the most famous anti-gay group in the world will last now?
5) The rise of Sam Smith
Sam Smith’s career has gone sky high, and he has done it all as an out, proud, gay man.
While he might not be a fan of Grindr, he has become the only artist to sell a million copies of his debut album in the UK and US in 2014.
6) Gay film goes mainstream
It’s been a long time since Brokeback Mountain. Filmmaking like never before celebrated LGBTI stories this year.
Kill Your Darlings educated the world about Allen Ginsberg, The Imitation Game took on Alan Turing, and Pride celebrated an unlikely pairing of gay activists and striking miners during the 1980s. The latter two have been nominated at the Golden Globes.
But not only that, Jared Leto’s performance of a trans woman in Dallas Buyers Club won him an Oscar.
7) Michael Sam
If you think you’ve had a rollercoaster of a year, think of Michael Sam. He came out, became the first NFL out gay player, got dropped from the St Louis Rams, went to the Dallas Cowboys, and then got dropped again.
His bravery inspired thousands, if not millions.
8) Conchita Wurst wins Eurovision
After the Sochi Olympics, and with the Crimea crisis, Europeans weren’t exactly the biggest fans of Russia in May.
So when Europe voted for a drag queen to win the Eurovision Song Contest, the campest competition in the world, it was an act of protest as well as an act of celebration.
‘This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom,’ she said on stage, before performing Rise Like A Phoenix once again.
‘You know who you are. We are unity and we are unstoppable.’
9) Laverne Cox on the cover of Time
The transgender tipping point was epitomised by Emmy-nominated actress Laverne Cox appearing on the cover of Time in May.
By a series of interviews, including the infamous one with Katie Couric, the world found out about and was starting to understand trans issues.
‘I realize this is way bigger than me and about a tipping point in our nation’s history,’ Cox said, ‘where it is no [longer] acceptable for trans lives to be stigmatized, ridiculed, criminalized and disregarded.’
10) Uganda anti-gay law nullified
One of the shock moments of last year was when Uganda’s parliament suddenly legalized an anti-gay bill that had been sitting there delayed for months.
But in August the Constitutional Court found parliament had acted ‘illegally’ by passing it without enough lawmakers to vote on it, nullifying it in Ugandan law.
Out of the humiliation, politicians are desperate for the law to return. This time, it is under the guise of the Prohibition of Promotion of Unnatural Sexual Offences bill. But with parliament closed for Christmas, 2014 will end with no new homophobic law in Uganda.
11) Gambia president signs bill that jails gay for life
And with wins in Africa, there were also losses.
Gambia’s president Yahya Jammeh signed a bill into law that punishes homosexuality with life imprisonment in October.
12) China rules against ‘gay cure’ therapy
In China, homosexuality is still largely considered a disease. So when a court ruled a clinic that claimed its ‘gay cure’ therapy was not dangerous had to pay out to a gay man, it was a huge moment.
They had attempted to use hypnosis and electroshock therapy on him, and like all other forms of ‘conversion therapy’ proved to be extremely damaging to the man’s mental and physical health.
13) Gay teen kicked out by his religious parents, saved by the community
In August, 20-year-old Daniel Ashley-Pierce from Kennesaw, Georgia thought he lost everything after being kicked out of his home by his religious parents.
But he managed to take a video – it showed the young man being called a ‘piece of shit’ and ‘damned queer’ and being hit several times. It went viral with over 7 million people watching it on YouTube.
Ashley-Pierce’s story didn’t end there, with the community raising over $90,000 for him to start his new life. He donated a lot of the money to charity, hoping it would help other gay young people disowned by their parents.
14) Tim Cook comes out
Apple CEO Tim Cook came out in October in a personal essay.
‘If hearing that the CEO of Apple is gay can help someone struggling to come to terms with who he or she is, or bring comfort to anyone who feels alone, or inspire people to insist on their equality, then it’s worth the trade-off with my own privacy,’ he said.
‘When I arrive in my office each morning, I’m greeted by framed photos of Dr. King and Robert F. Kennedy. I don’t pretend that writing this puts me in their league.
‘All it does is allow me to look at those pictures and know that I’m doing my part, however small, to help others. We pave the sunlit path toward justice together, brick by brick. This is my brick.’