Strictly’s male couple and Superman coming out: 2021’s uplifting LGBTQ+ stories

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  • Lewis Hamilton
    Lewis Hamilton
    British racing driver
  • John Whaite
    British baker
Johannes Radebe and John Whaite during the final of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 (Guy Levy/BBC/PA) (PA Media)
Johannes Radebe and John Whaite during the final of Strictly Come Dancing 2021 (Guy Levy/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

This year has been a difficult one for all, but for the LGBTQ+ community there have been some major milestones amid the doom and gloom.

From Instagram’s new pronoun feature to Strictly’s first all-male couple, here are some of the uplifting moments of 2021.

– First all-male couple appear on Strictly Come Dancing

John Whaite and Johannes Radebe on Strictly Come Dancing 2021 (PA) (PA Media)
John Whaite and Johannes Radebe on Strictly Come Dancing 2021 (PA) (PA Media)

In September, John Whaite and Johannes Radebe made history on this year’s Strictly Come Dancing as the first all-male couple on the show, and the only same-sex couple to reach the final.

The Great British Bake Off star and his professional dancing partner were only the second same-sex couple to dance on the show ever, with Nicola Adams’s time in the 2020 competition being cut short due to Covid-19.

Whaite’s appearance on the show, which ran for 13 weeks, has been hailed a momentous moment for LGBTQ+ representation.

He said: “It’s been incredible, really incredible.

“The amount of people who have messaged saying their kids can grow up in a world where two men or two women can dance together is mega.”

– Lewis Hamilton wore a rainbow helmet in ‘incredible act of allyship’

F1 star Lewis Hamilton was praised for showing “an incredible act of allyship” by debuting a rainbow-coloured helmet during the inaugural Qatar Grand Prix in November.

Hamilton’s helmet bore the colours of the Progress Pride flag – a banner that includes the traditional rainbow design in addition to a series of coloured chevrons that recognise the diversity of the LGBTQ+ community.

The 36-year-old spoke out about the poor human rights record of the Gulf state, highlighting the “pretty terrifying” LGBTQ+ laws and calling on F1 and other sportspeople to do the same.

With same-sex relationships illegal in both Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Hamilton wore the specially designed helmet again around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit in December.

Richard Morris, a British racing driver and co-founder of Racing Pride, told the PA news agency that Hamilton’s gesture “fills me with hope”.

– Swiss government announced same-sex couples can marry

Switzerland’s executive body announced that same-sex couples can get married from July 1 next year.

The Alpine country is one of the few remaining nations in western Europe where gay and lesbian couples do not already have the right to wed.

The referendum, approved by an overwhelming majority on September 26, will put same-sex partners in the nation on an equal legal footing with heterosexual couples, including by allowing them to adopt children together and to sponsor a spouse for citizenship.

Switzerland will also recognise the marriages of same-sex couples who wed in other countries instead of continuing to treat the unions as simple civil partnerships.

– Instagram added a pronouns option to user profiles

Instagram allows users to add their pronouns to their profiles (PA) (PA Archive)
Instagram allows users to add their pronouns to their profiles (PA) (PA Archive)

In May the social media site Instagram added a new section on user profiles allowing people to specify their pronouns for the first time.

The Facebook-owned platform now allows users to pick up to four pronouns to appear in the bio section of their profile.

Actor Emma Corrin known for playing Princess Diana on Netflix’s The Crown, updated their pronouns to “she/they” following the update.

– Channel 4’s It’s A Sin got people talking about HIV/Aids

Olly Alexander after winning the New Drama award for It’s A Sin at the National Television Awards 2021 (PA) (PA Wire)
Olly Alexander after winning the New Drama award for It’s A Sin at the National Television Awards 2021 (PA) (PA Wire)

Russell T Davies’s five-part series It’s A Sin got people talking about HIV/Aids.

The writer and producer, known for his work on Queer As Folk and Doctor Who, returned to screens in late January with a drama exploring the lives of a group of gay friends living in London during the 1980s Aids crisis.

The series showcased new acting talent including Years & Years frontman Olly Alexander, Lydia West and Omari Douglas – and became Channel 4 streaming service All 4’s “most binged new series ever”.

The show, praised by viewers as being “beautiful” and “heartbreaking”, led to more people than ever before getting tested during HIV Test Week, according to Terrence Higgins Trust.

– Joe Biden reversed Donald Trump’s transgender military ban

US President Joe Biden (PA) (PA Wire)
US President Joe Biden (PA) (PA Wire)

In January 2021, the newly elected President of the United States, Joe Biden, signed an order reversing a Trump-era Pentagon policy that largely barred transgender individuals from serving in the US military.

During his first year in office Donald Trump had caught military leaders by surprise by tweeting that the government would not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve “in any capacity” in the military.

His policy, which fell short of an all-out ban, was approved in April 2019 barring transgender troops and military recruits from transitioning to another sex.

Under President Biden’s new policy, no one in the military will be discharged based on their gender identity, and transgender service members can serve in their preferred gender once their transition is complete.

Superman came out as bisexual in a new comic

Superman came out as bisexual (PA/DC Comics) (PA Media)
Superman came out as bisexual (PA/DC Comics) (PA Media)

Superman came out as bisexual in a comic book released by DC Comics in November.

The comic saw Jon Kent, the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, become romantically involved with reporter Jay Nakamura.

Superman’s coming out was the latest example of comic books embracing LGBT-inclusive backgrounds for its heroes.

Tim Drake, the latest incarnation of Batman’s sidekick Robin, also came out as bisexual this year.

And Marvel announced the first gay Captain America, another classic superhero typically associated with traditional ideals of masculinity.

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