Note: this is an incomplete list, lacking especially in international coverage and coverage of developments in trans-inclusive healthcare.
During the Q+A portion of a screening of United in Anger: A History of ACT UP at the LGBT Center on 13th Street, someone asked Sarah Schulman where all the queer activists were, whether there was a comparable queer movement today. (Not sure how this person managed to miss trans and nonbinary movements but more on that later.) Schulman, like a boss, answered that queer people are actually at the forefront of many justice movements : #BlackLivesMatter, Palestine, Missouri.
In other words, while a high degree of specificity is often required to push legislative and policy changes, social justice movements cannot be single-issue because the nullification of human dignity is a thing that manifests in many different ways and we need to trace and talk about how those things are connected. In other words, when we talk about unequal access to resources (whether that's visibility or jobs or healthcare), police violence, mass incarceration, and militarization, we need to talk about how those are related not only to cissexism and heterosexism but also racism, classism, xenophobia, transmisogyny, and misogyny. We need to be able to care about multiple things at the same time, to remember that people hold multiple identities and to be wary when certain identities are privileged over or framed as inherently oppositional to others.
In a shining example of this and perhaps the most telling moment of the year, the US government legalized gay marriage the same week that they threw Jennicet Gutierrez out of the white house for interrupting Obama's Pride reception to protest the detention and deportation of LGBTQ people. Gutierrez was denounced as a heckler while gay marriage was received with parades and social media rainbowashing (a great irony considering how many queer people Facebook persecutes with its real name policy).
As many have said, marriage is an outdated heterosexist misogynist institution but is also one that is unfortunately currently tied to immigration and healthcare (and often things like professional respectability and familial legitimacy) so it is important that no one is forcibly excluded from it, but ~also~ assimilation into into problematic institutions should not outshine our critique of and resistance to those institutions (see also: the military welcoming trans people) and should certainly not be seen as an end goal.
Anyway . . .
Lots of celebs got gal pals or publicly expressed interest in gal pals, including Kristen Stewart, Miley, Carrie Brownstein, Annie Clark, Taylor Schilling, and Cara Delevigne. [For up-to-date celesbian gal pal coverage, follow Gothip Girl.]
G.L.O.S.S., Slouch, Worriers, Downtown Boys, Aye Nako, Homewreckers, Adult Mom, PWR BTTM, Le1f, M. Lamar, Mykki Blanco, and other publicly queer artists released amazing records.
Hollywood tried to make a whitewashed Stonewall movie but apparently it did really badly. On the bright side, the rad and good Happy Birthday Marsha!, a film about Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson by Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel, was successfully crowdfunded and will eventually exist in the world. [Learn more]
Happy Birthday Marsha!
Caitlyn Jenner publicly came out in September, making her the most high-profile trans person in America and starting a lot of conversations. She has since said a lot of less than stellar things, proving once more that celebrity and identity alone do not qualify someone to be a movement leader. [As Kinfolk wrote, Call her out, but call her Cait.]
If we must center celebrities as spokespeople, remember that Janet Mock and Laverne Cox are out here.
What else . . .
Following Leelah Alcorn's suicide in January, two activists founded Trans Lifeline, the first trans-specific suicide hotline.
GC2B made a great binder.
PrEP and PEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis and post-exposure prophylaxis) became available to the public, and served as both a healthcare measure and an important rhetorical reminder that we are not post-AIDS. Then the differing discourses around Charlie Sheen's diagnosis and Michael Johnson's trial revealed, unsurprisingly, that while HIV is stigmatized no matter what, whether it's treated with concern or with vilification and criminalization has everything to do with racism and homophobia.
The Rentboy.com raid highlighted criminalization of sex work and how it relates to economic, racial, and gender-based violence.
California outlawed the gay panic defense, which is great, but it also means that in every other state, gay panic and trans panic defenses are still a thing. It's 2015 and being surprised by someone's medical history, identity, or sexual orientation is somehow a legally valid justification for murder.
23 trans women were killed in the US this year, and that's not including the trans, gender nonconforming, and queer people we lost to suicide and those who we have no record of. (Rest in power Blake Brockington, Skylar Lee.) It was a year of public mourning, remembrance, and resilience.
It was also a year of internal anxiety. We know that visibility does not always lead to meaningful change but within our communities the new access to visibility sometimes led to erasure, suspicion, and identity policing. We spoke against bisexual erasure and for the validity of nonbinary identities, but behind closed doors dragged people who we didn't think were queer enough or weren't queer in the right ways. Identities are not monolithic. Your communities are valid, your bodies are valid.
Happy 2016. Let's continue to expand our language and discourse, hold our institutions accountable, and be kind to one another.