Now we have to edit out the ones you’ve heard about a million times already (sorry, Looking, everybody knows you exist now). Here’s what gave us life this year:
1. Laverne Cox on the cover of TIME
The Emmy-nominated actress was
the face of TIME magazine’s “trans 101” article. It was a first. It was history. It was remedial, too, but what can you expect from straight people (and clueless gays, too, don’t forget)? Even better, Cox co- hosted _The View_ more than once, which is going to reach millions more people than a print magazine. Watch her run.
2. Old gay guys at the movies
Love is Strange, a heartfelt and moving feature from director Ira Sachs, explored the trauma of being gray, gay and separated from your spouse due when resources, both financial and social, are strained. Alfred Molina and John Lithgow were the most tender big screen LTR of the year.
3. How to Get Away With Murder
Scandal was just the beginning of major networks getting pushy with gay sex scenes. This show just upped the stakes. You haven’t seen guys getting down on primetime like this before. Proof that Shonda Rhimes does whatever Shonda Rhimes wants.
4. Brendan Jordan mopping the TV news
“Mopping,” of course, means stealing (and if you don’t know that, then you’ve got some Paris is Burning homework to do), and that’s what 15-year-old Brendan Jordan did to local news segment when everyone else in the crowd stood behind the reporter behaving themselves. The teenager chose to vogue, as one should, and now he’s a sassy, face-giving YouTube star and a model for American Apparel. Flamboyance is the new black.
5. Michael Sam and that kiss
NFL pick (and then NFL drop) Michael Sam reacted to being the first openly gay NFL draft pick by kissing his boyfriend
in a sweet, spontaneous act of joy. And then everyone freaked out about it. So we haven’t come as far as we’d like. But now that door is open. And he is the man who opened it. May it never close again.
6. Sam Smith singing love songs to men on the radio
It’s happened before, of course, but for some reason, when Erasure’s “A Little Respect” was popular in the ’80s, the media tried to pretend they hadn’t heard Andy Bell ask a man not to forsake him. Smith laid it down by coming out quickly and backing it up with insane singing talent.
Adele may be taking a much-needed vacation, but Smith is stepping in to pick up the slack.
7. Chris Rock questioning labels in Top Five
When Rosario Daswon’s reporter character discovers (here comes a spoiler, so watch out) that her boyfriend probably just had sex with another man, then readily states that she’s had girlfriends in the past herself but isn’t a lesbian, Rock grills her: “So he
has sex with a man one time and that makes him gay?” This, friends, is how progress gets made, one punch line at a time.
8. Dyke & Fats
Saturday Night Live’s women are killing it lately, and Kate McKinnon and Aidy Bryant are, separately, comedy forces of nature. But when they teamed up for a fake commercial for a fake buddy cop show, it was a shots fired moment for table-turning jokes about women’s bodies, lesbians and tired cliché. Dyke & Fats should be a real show. Maybe it can air in the middle of the night after Too Many Cooks.
Trans activists took exception to the casting of a heterosexual male in the role of a late-middle-aged trans woman, but Jeffrey Tambor has risen to the task in this funny, moving series. There will come a time when trans actors will routinely be called upon
to play more trans roles (see Laverne Cox above) and TV needs its feet held to the fire to make that happen. But for now, we’re thrilled with any forward momentum.
10. Samira Wiley
This Orange is the New Black player got her own heartbreaking storyline this season and is poised to be the next breakout star of that series. She also snagged the show’s previously-hetero- identified creator as her new girlfriend. Lesbian drama