The Biggest LGBTQ Stories of 2020

Monday December 28, 2020

The Biggest LGBTQ Stories of 2020
  (Source:Getty Images)

The LGBTQ community, like the rest of the world, faced a reckoning in 2020 — one that will continue to reverberate in the coming year.

We rallied for change in Washington and advocated for underserved populations. Around the world, advocates continued to fight for equal rights amid a shifting landscape that, in many places, still denies queer people the same privileges as their heterosexual counterparts. We also examined systemic racism and inequities within our own communities.

Through it all, a rising choir of diverse voices reverberated the sound of change. EDGE spoke to some of the nation's most notable LBGTQ leaders, grassroots organizations and everyday people simply trying to live each day as their authentic selves.

Here are the biggest LGBTQ stories that shaped our world in 2020.

How LGBTQ Voters Could Change America's Landscape

"When we're voting, it's easy to think it's just for a candidate or party we align with, but it's so much more than that," said Drag Out the Vote's Dylan Austin as part of EDGE's comprehensive election coverage. "Everything is interconnected."

The nail-biting race for the White House revealed just how powerful the LGBTQ community could be in impacting not only the presidency but also local and state elections. EDGE took a deep dive into election variables by examining the role of queer women, Gen Z, local elections, and The Victory Fund's impact.

Race Cooper shared his story for our story about racism in the gay adult film industry.
Race Cooper shared his story for our story about racism in the gay adult film industry.  (Source: Matt Fuller)

Queer Nightlife Rallies in the Age of COVID-19
Throughout one fateful weekend in March 2020, the entire nation nearly shuttered due to the coronavirus pandemic. With little national leadership, state governors and local leaders established best practices with mixed results. EDGE spoke with LGBTQ bar owners, nightlife entrepreneurs and elected officials determined to weather a storm that didn't appear to be passing any time soon.

"I know this will come to an end," Chicago nightlife entrepreneur Mark Liberson told EDGE over the summer. "The question is, how soon? We all wish we had the answer. I don't know how to turn on an economy after you've turned it off. We've learned a lot since this virus began."

Can the Gay Adult Film Industry Solve Its Race Problem?
In the eyes of its beholders, porn can be cause for moral panic, a playground for taboo fantasies, even a secret obsession. For creators, it can function as anything from an artistic outlet to a means of hand-to-mouth survival. But if porn is a prism with a million different faces, it's the white ones that have historically dictated its dynamics and defined its ideals. This year's events have thrust porn into the cultural spotlight in unprecedented ways, as the coronavirus outbreak both hampered production and sent demand for online porn skyrocketing. Amid increased traffic, a global outcry against anti-Black racism reverberated through the porn industry.

The Lavender Dollar: Debunking Lesbian Spending Stereotypes
The cultural invisibility of lesbians and the struggle to keep lesbian spaces alive tend to reinforce the image of queer women as financially incapacitated or, at best, inconspicuous. But lesbians do spend money, don't they?

EDGE spoke to author Gabrielle Korn, Tagg Magazine Eboné F. Bell and others about the perceptions and realities of women's spending habits and how companies often miss this valuable segment of the consumer market.

Malaysia Walker spoke to EDGE about her experience as a transgender drag queen.
Malaysia Walker spoke to EDGE about her experience as a transgender drag queen.  (Source: Malaysia Walker)

Has "RuPaul's Drag Race" Reached a Trans Tipping Point?
RuPaul famously tells her cover girls to let their whole bodies talk. But in the time since her ascension to self-proclaimed supermodel of the world, whose bodies are allowed in the conversation has become a strong point of contention. Season 13 will feature Gottmik as the first transgender male contestant, but it's been a long road to inclusion.

LGBTQ Mental Health and Suicide: How Can We Save the Next Generation?
What type of world can LGBTQ youth look forward to rejoining as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic — especially when the epidemic of bullying based on students' sexuality or gender identity is still a leading cause of suicide? The Trevor Project released its second annual National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health while cause campaigns like Only Human continued to create community even during socially-distanced times.

Is Artificial Intelligence Queerphobic?
The emergence of LGBTQ identity within the Artificial Intelligence (AI) universe is slowly gaining attention. Several industry leaders are advocating for change. EDGE spoke to Os Keyes, a non-binary Ph.D. candidate at the University of Washington's Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering, currently researching gender and technology and its effect on transgender and gender-variant people; Leanne Pittsford, founder of Lesbians Who Tech, and others, but only time will tell if equitable inclusion will become part of the tech industry's best practices.

India's  LGBTQ cultural exchange organization InsideOut works with the Naz Foundation to support LGBTQ-identified artists with an art prize.
India's LGBTQ cultural exchange organization InsideOut works with the Naz Foundation to support LGBTQ-identified artists with an art prize.  (Source: Hiyaichenba Pangambam)

Progress, But Hardly Perfection: The Reality for India's LGBTQ Community
A year had passed since India amended its laws criminalizing sexual acts between consenting adults of the same gender. EDGE wanted to find out if circumstances had improved for the nation's LGBTQ community. In short: yes, but not enough.

Organizations like InsideOut and the Naz Foundation are making headway, but women, transgender and the Hijrah community still face challenges posed by an emboldened faith-based majority government.

Why Are Hispanic/Latino Men 4 Times More Likely to Get HIV Than White Men?
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the hope and promise for a healthier tomorrow might feel reminiscent of another virus — one that ravaged the LGBTQ community in the 1980s and beyond. But in the years since HIV transmission was at its height, has HIV/AIDS started to feel like a bygone disease despite a death toll that has soared over 32 million people worldwide? In the United States, it depends on who you ask. And if you're part of the Latinx community, the answer is complicated. EDGE spoke to the Latino Commission on AIDS, Entre Hermanos and GMHC about the staggering statistic.

In Illinois, State-Mandated LGBTQ History for Students Becomes a Reality
LGBTQ History Month had a much broader impact in Illinois this year, thanks to a new law that mandates the teaching of LGBTQ heritage in public schools across the state. The LGBTQ Inclusive Curriculum Bill took effect this fall, and makes Illinois the fourth state, after California, Colorado and New Jersey, to implement such a law

More than 800 people attended Arizona's first Two-Spirit Powwow.
More than 800 people attended Arizona's first Two-Spirit Powwow.  (Source: Polaroid Phoenix)

Fighting the Silence: How Native Americans are Making Their Voices Heard
Life for many of today's LGBTQ Native Americans looks like the worst of queer white America before Stonewall, but grassroots efforts are trying to reconcile and repair centuries of oppression.

EDGE looked at the history of queer oppression in the LGBTQ community and found sources of inspiration from emerging organizations like PFLAG and the Aspen Institute.

Shelter Not in Place: Solving the LGBTQ Homeless Epidemic
According to a recent Williams Institute study, the first of its kind in the U.S. to measure LGBTQ homelessness using nationally representative samples, an estimated 17 percent of sexual minority adults in the U.S. report experiencing homelessness at some point in their lives — nearly three times the general population.

For LGBTQ Immigrants, the Pandemic Threatens Lives Already in Dangerous Limbo
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, conditions were unspeakably grim for LGBTQ immigrants coming to America during the Trump administration. Often having faced life-threatening situations in their home countries, they'd made arduous journeys to get to the promised land — only to realize that President Trump's anti-immigrant policies have created ever more confusing variables at the U.S. border.

In our two-part series, EDGE reported on those seeking asylum in the U.S. as well as those already in America fighting to stay.

EDGE's team of feature reporters includes Dan Allen, Kelsy Chauvin, Merryn Johns, Naveen Kumar, Billy McEntee, Andy Smith and Matthew Wexler.