With Trump, Brexit and the deaths of icons, it can all be agreed that 2016 was a pretty terrible year.
If you look at our predictions for the year, which included Carol winning Best Picture at the Oscars (it wasn’t even nominated) and India decriminalizing homosexuality (it didn’t), it makes for depressing reading.
But this year wasn’t all spent in doom and gloom. There were genuine amazing moments. It shows even in the darkest times, there are still beautiful moments to be had.
1. One boy stood against a walking crowd of hatred
In one of the most iconic images of the year, a 12-year-old boy stood against a homophobic hate march in Mexico.
The protests came after opponents of marriage equality said they would march to stop a proposal from President Enrique Peña Nieto to legalize same-sex marriage across the country. Marches organized National Front of the Family took place in September with hundreds of thousands of people taking part.
And one boy tried to stand in the way. Why? ‘I have a gay uncle,’ he said. ‘And I hate that people hate.’
2. Joe Biden proved Love Is Love by marrying two White House staffers
Vice President Joe Biden officiated his first ever marriage in August, and it just happened to be for a gay couple who worked for the White House.
The two grooms were White House staffers Brian Mosteller and Joe Mahshie, who had asked the vice president to lead the ceremony.
Tweeting out a picture, he said: ‘Proud to marry Brian and Joe at my house. Couldn’t be happier, two longtime White House staffers, two great guys.’
3. Wonder Woman came out officially as bisexual
There’s been a lot of coming outs in 2016, like Kristen Stewart and Colton Haynes, but it’s a fictional character’s sexuality that really made the headlines this year.
Wonder Woman was confirmed as canonically bisexual by DC writer Greg Rucka, saying she had ‘obviously’ had sexual relationships with both men and women.
And then when fans looked back at the comic character’s history, it really all made perfect sense.
4. Colombia legalizes same-sex marriage
Colombia legalized same-sex marriage in April, making it the fourth Latin American country to do so and the 15th country worldwide.
Same-sex couples were already allowed to form civil partnerships, but the ruling extended equal marriage rights as heterosexual couples.
5. Gold-winning lesbian athlete gets engaged at the Rio Olympics
A stadium manager proposed to her gold-winning rugby playing girlfriend at the Rio Olympics.
Marjorie Enya picked the perfect time to propose to athlete Isabella Cerullo, shortly after the rugby 7s team won gold.
‘I wanted to show people that love wins,’ Enya said. ‘She is the love of my life.’
6. People rediscover the genius of David Bowie
Three days before his death, David Bowie released the song Lazarus. First words? ‘Look up here, I’m in heaven.’
While the death of an icon is never a good thing, his legacy lives on. The bisexual superstar was an inspiration, daring and beautiful in his androgyny, and because of him many gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, queer, odd or extraterrestrial people felt less alone.
There are still fresh flowers and memorials written everyday at the Bowie mural in Brixton, London.
7. Gay sex is decriminalized in Belize and the Seychelles
While it might seem unbelievable there are still 77 countries in the world that still criminalize homosexuality, there is hope it will one day be zero.
8. We saw real bisexual male visibility on TV for the first time
Whenever you saw a bisexual male on television before, they were often either conniving or evil or manipulative or all three at the same time.
But it turns out it doesn’t have to be that way. CW’s Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the critically acclaimed musical comedy drama, showed how it could be done with Darryl – someone you could definitely not describe as devilish.
He came out to his colleagues in a bumbling, endearing way, with a Robert Palmer-esque anthem, while breaking a few bisexual myths at the same time.
9. The best Eurovision interval in its 60-year history
When Sweden hosts the Eurovision Song Contest, are other countries just resigned to the fact how amazing they are or are they just jealous?
Because presenters Petra Mede and Mans Zelmerlow were adoringly fantastic in the best Eurovision interval in its 60 year history – filled with past winners and contestants in winking cameos.
From doing tricks in a hamster wheel to a Russian man on skates, hot shirtless drummers and old women baking bread, it was everything the LGBTI fans love about Eurovision.
10. Italy finally approves civil unions
Italy finally approved civil unions in May, the last Western European country to do so after years of debate.
Fiercely resisted by conservative politicians and the Catholic Church, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi won with a resounding victory for same-sex couples.
The lower house of parliament voted 369-193 in favor, finally giving same-sex couples rights that were long overdue.
11. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people all came together to mourn
In June, tragedy struck our community when 49 of our loved ones were shot and killed in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
And even in the darkest of moments, everyone was connected. If you went to a vigil, which there were many around the world, you felt it: hearts beating as one.
People had forgotten that being openly LGBTI, just walking down the street, is still a political act. With these vigils, it was the biggest political statement of all: we are here.
12. And there were hundreds of allies who donated blood
— Steve Helling (@stevehelling) 12 June 2016
Let us not forget that gay men are still banned from donating blood because they may pose a ‘risk’ of passing on HIV. And so when people were killed, and blood was sorely needed, what cruelness to be stopped from doing something to help purely because of your sexuality.
But thousands of people felt the same way, those who were able to donate blood. The video of people waiting in line to donate blood in Orlando is unforgettable.
13. And Lin Manuel Miranda’s speech at the Tony’s said what we were all thinking…
It may have been Hamilton that he was being honored for at the Tony’s, but it was his speech that got everyone in tears.
A sonnet, it finished:
‘…We rise and fall and light from dying embers
‘Remembrances that hope and love last longer
‘And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love
‘Cannot be killed or swept aside
‘I sing Vanessa’s symphony, Eliza tells her story
‘Now fill the world with music, love and pride.’
14. The world filled up with two men kissing
In the investigations into Orlando, the FBI unearthed evidence the shooting may have been sparked after seeing two men kissing in Miami.
And so in response, the hashtag #TwoMenKissing trended worldwide as people posted photographs in defiance of the killer’s actions.
‘Life should be beautiful and love should forever be celebrated above hate and bigotry,’ one Twitter user said.
— Carl Fearn (@carljfearn) June 13, 2016
15. Justin Trudeau became first Canadian prime minister to march at Pride
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau became the first Canadian PM to march at Pride in August.
‘It’s a time where the whole city, families, communities come out, we celebrate the great diversity that is such a strength of our country,’ he said while walking down the parade pushing one of his children in a stroller.
‘We celebrate community, we celebrate family and all these things together. It means we’re going to have a great pride and it’s a pleasure for me to be here.’
16. Two police officers got engaged at London Pride
Two police officers got engaged at London Pride, and the image went viral around the world.
The march stopped as PC Sam Philpot proposed to partner PC Martin Coughlan.
He wasn’t alone either. Another police officer proposed to his partner in the crowd during the parade as well.
17. One of the most homophobic and evil men in the world lost his power
Yahya Jammeh, one of the most violently homophobic people in power in the world, lost the presidential election.
This is a man who has threatened to have every gay person murdered in Gambia, referred to LGBTI people as ‘vermin’ and ‘anti-human’, and claimed you could cure AIDS with herbs and bananas.
While the dictator, who has ruled for 22 years, may refuse to leave – the votes don’t lie and it may lead to his downfall.
18. Young trans people respond to what makes someone ‘trans enough’ in the perfect way
Every year, Transgender Day of Remembrance shows how many people we lost to bigotry and hate. But this year, young trans people took to social media the day after to show the world what makes them special.
Many of them were mid-transition, some hadn’t taken any hormones at all, but all were spreading light and positivity into the world.
19. Malta becomes first country in Europe to ban ‘gay cure’ therapy (/torture)
Gay ‘cure’ therapy, or torture as it should be called, was finally banned in a country in Europe: Malta.
The ‘gay cure’ ban, which was agreed to by every single parliamentary official, will see any person who attempts to change, repress or eliminate or person’s sexual orientation receive a fine ranging from €1,000 to €5,000 ($1,080 to $5,400) or a jail term of five months.
20. Hamilton cast take on Mike Pence and win
If anyone needed to hear the message of Hamilton, Vice President-elect Mike Pence would be at the top of the list.
The hideously homophobic and transphobic politician sat down to watch the hit Broadway show in November, and after it was over, got one message especially for him.
‘We are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir,’ Brandon Victor Dixon said.
‘But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values, and work on behalf of all of us.’
21. Isle of Man and Faroe Islands passes same-sex marriage
While the Isle of Man and Faroe Islands might be small, it does not make the progress made any less mighty.
Both self-governing dependent isles, one of the UK and one of Denmark, both legalized same-sex marriage this year.
In October 2015, Chief Minister Allan Bell revealed he had been in a relationship with another man for the past 21 years.
He said: ‘Everyone who loves their partner, whether same-sex or otherwise, must have equal rights to share their lives. It’s a totally logical human right and human expectation that straight couples and gay couples should be able to enjoy life with the partner that they choose.’
22. The rise of Moonlight
Moonlight was a risk, a story about a young gay black man – that’s never been told before. But that risk has been paid off with the film winning accolades left and right.
Nominated for a Golden Globe, and tipped for an Oscar nomination, it has received unanimous critical acclaim and has already made back twice its budget.
When it inevitably loses the Best Picture Oscar to the old-Hollywood-obsessed-typical-heterosexual-love-story-slick-big-budget-musical La La Land, hearts will be broken. But for the film to exist at all, it’s a miracle.
23. Taiwan looks to become first Asian country to legalize marriage equality
There is a very real possibility Taiwan will become the first Asian country to legalize marriage equality next year.
Supported by President Tsai Ing-wen, the bill has already passed its first reading in November. It will give same-sex couples the right to get married and to adopt children.
A recent poll found 71% of Taiwanese people supported same-sex marriage.
If there is a theme that unites this year, it is defiance. Whether you are a young boy standing against a hate march or a Hamilton cast member reacting to the US election, people made their voices heard against bigotry, oppression and anger. As we go into 2017, the world could become a far lighter or even more dark place.
And it’s up to us to do what we do best: spread a little love.