Pop Goes the Culture: Defining a Decade

by HRC Staff

The LGBTQ pop culture bubble expanded in the past decade, bringing LGBTQ visibility to an all-time high.

This post was submitted by Hayley Miller, Associate Director of Digital and Social Media, and Emily Simeral Roberts, Associate Director of Digital Media and Marketing.

The LGBTQ pop culture bubble expanded in the past decade, bringing LGBTQ visibility to an all-time high. 

From the big screen to the small screen, music and sports, we saw LGBTQ people make history time and again.  

Here are 10 of the standout moments in equality throughout the past 10 years, in no particular order:

1. When Pose landed on TV screens in June 2018, it made history by bringing together the largest cast of transgender actors on television. The show also features non-binary actor Indya Moore. Since then, the show has continued to shatter the glass ceiling. For example, at the 71st Emmy Awards, Billy Porter became the first openly gay Black man to win the Emmy for lead actor in a drama series.

2. In 2017, the film Moonlight, which tells a moving story of a Black gay man, received eight Academy Award nominations. The film went on to win Best Picture — the first LGBTQ-focused film to do so. 

3. In September 2019, days after singer Sam Smith announced their pronouns were they/their, Merriam-Webster added the non-binary pronoun “they” to the dictionary, sparking a conversation about pronouns and gender identity around the globe. The renowned dictionary then announced “they” as the “Word of the Year” in December 2019.  

4/ Lil Nas X and his song “Old Town Road” took the radio by storm in 2019. In June 2019, Lil Nas X came out as gay on Twitter, becoming the first artist to do so while having a no. 1 hit song. 

5. Trans actress Laverne Cox made headlines across the decade, including becoming the first openly transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. Cox also appeared on the cover of TIME magazine in 2014. 

6. A highlight for many this decade was watching openly gay athletes Adam Rippon and Gus Kenworthy compete for the United States in the Winter Olympics in 2018. Rippon went on to medal, becoming the first openly gay American athlete to medal in a Winter Olympics. In 2013, NBA player Jason Collins made sports history when he came out as gay, the first active NBA player to do so. 

7. In 2016, President Barack Obama awarded Ellen DeGeneres the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation’s highest civilian honor -- reminding us why she is such a pioneer. 

8. 2018 marked the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day. Every year on October 11, NCOD emphasizes the importance of coming out and creating a safe world in which LGBTQ people can live openly as their authentic selves.

9. In 2019, Lilly Singh became the first openly bisexual person, as well as the first person of Indian descent, to host an American major broadcast network late-night talk show. 

10. When the revival of Queer Eye started streaming on Netflix early 2018, many were thrilled to see their favorite show return. The new cast, including Jonathan Van Ness, who is non-binary, and their heroes, who included trans people, women and lesbians, have started a conversation worldwide about what it means to be queer and love yourself - the best way to start a new decade!