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Looking Back: The Year in Review

Out in the World: Top 10 international news stories of 2023

War, anti-LGBTQ crackdowns & decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations are among issues that made headlines around the world



Los Angeles Blade graphic

WASHINGTON – War, continued anti-LGBTQ crackdowns and the decriminalization of consensual same-sex sexual relations are among the issues that made headlines around the world over the past year. Here are the top international stories of 2023. 

 #10 Mauritius and the Cook Islands decriminalize homosexuality

Collectif Arc-en-Ciel is an LGBTQ and intersex rights group in Mauritius.
(Photo courtesy of Collectif Arc-en-Ciel)

The Mauritius Supreme Court on Oct. 4 issued a ruling that decriminalized consensual same-sex sexual relations in the country. 

Abdool Ridwan Firaas (Ryan) Ah Seek, a gay man and prominent LGBTQ activist, in 2019 filed a lawsuit that sought to strike down the colonial-era penal code. The court issued its ruling roughly two months after Mauritius hosted the Pan Africa ILGA Conference.

Lawmakers in the Cook Islands in April voted to repeal a provision of a 1969 law that criminalized homosexuality in the country.

#9 British Prime Minister Sunak fires anti-LGBTQ Home Secretary 

British Prime Minster Rishi Sunak. (Screen capture via YouTube)

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Nov. 13 fired Suella Braverman, his government’s controversial home secretary who was a vocal opponent of LGBTQ rights. 

Braverman, among other things, opposed transgender rights. 

“Trans women have no place in women’s wards or, indeed, any safe space relating to biological women,” she told Sky News a few weeks before Sunak fired her.

Braverman in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in September said the country “will not be able to sustain an asylum system if, in effect, simply being gay or a woman, and fearful of discrimination in your country of origin, is sufficient to qualify for protection.” 

#8 Edgars Rinkēvičs becomes Latvia’s first openly gay president

Latvian President-elect Edgars Rinkēvičs (Screen capture via LTV Ziņu dienests YouTube)

Edgars Rinkēvičs on July 8 became Latvia’s first openly gay president.

Rinkēvičs had been the country’s foreign minister since 2011. He is the first openly gay head of state of a European Union country or a nation that was once part of the Soviet Union. 

#7 Anti-LGBTQ crackdowns continue in Russia, Eastern Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin in July 2023.
(Photo courtesy of the Russian government/Office of the Russian President)

The Russian government in 2023 continued its crackdown on LGBTQ rights.

The country’s Supreme Court on Nov. 30 ruled the global LGBTQ rights movement is an “extremist organization.” Police within days of the ruling raided gay bars and clubs in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

President Vladimir Putin in July signed a bill that bans transition-related therapy and surgery in the country.

U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman, who is gay, on June 16 criticized the crackdown on LGBTQ rights in the country during a speech he gave at a Budapest Pride reception. Gay Polish MEP (European Parliament member) Robert Biedroń during an interview with the Washington Blade in Brussels over the summer described Poland as “the most homophobic country on the map of Europe in the EU.”

#6 Thailand poised to become next Asian country to extend marriage rights

Thai parliamentarians debate same-sex marriage bill. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Thailand could become the next country in Asia to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The country’s Cabinet on Nov. 21 approved a marriage equality bill. Lawmakers are expected to debate it this month.

Same-sex couples have been able to legally marry in Taiwan since 2019. 

The Nepalese Supreme Court on June 28 issued a ruling that opened the door to marriage equality in the country. Maya Ram Bahadur Gurung and Surendra Pandey on Nov. 29 legally registered their marriage.

#5 Latin America’s first nonbinary judge killed by partner

Jesús Ociel Baena was Latin America’s first nonbinary judge. They were found dead in their home in Mexico’s Aguascalientes state on Nov. 13, 2023. (Photo credit: Baena/Facebook)

Authorities in Mexico’s Aguascalientes state on Nov. 13 found Jesús Ociel Baena, Latin America’s first nonbinary judge, dead in their home.

Baena in October 2022 became a magistrate on Aguascalientes’ electoral court. Baena in June was one of the first people in Mexico to receive a passport with a nonbinary gender marker.

Baena had previously received death threats. Prosecutors said Baena’s partner killed them before dying by suicide. 

#4 Brazilian President Lula da Silva sworn before Bolsonaro supporters storm capital

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva after his inauguration in Brasília, Brazil, on Jan. 1, 2023. (Photo courtesy of Lula’s Twitter page)

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Jan. 1 took office in his country’s capital of Brasília.

Da Silva, a member of the leftist Worker’s Party, was Brazil’s president from 2003-2010. He defeated Jair Bolsonaro, a former Brazilian Army captain and congressman who sparked outrage over his comments LGBTQ people and other groups and his anti-democratic rhetoric, in the country’s presidential election that took place in October 2022.

Thousands of Bolsonaro supporters on Jan. 8 stormed Brazil’s Congress, Presidential Palace and Supreme Court.

#3 Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act signed into law. Anti-LGBTQ crackdown in Nigeria. Neighboring countries seek to implement similar statutes. Namibian Supreme Court rules country must recognize same-sex marriages 

LGBTQ activists protest in front of the Ugandan Embassy in D.C. on April 25, 2023. The Ugandan Constitutional Court on Dec. 18, 2023, heard a lawsuit that challenges the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. (Washington Blade photos by Michael K. Lavers)

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on May 29 signed his country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.”

The U.S. in response imposed visa restrictions against Ugandan officials and removed the country from a sub-Saharan Africa free trade agreement. The World Bank Group also suspended new loans to Uganda.

Lawmakers in Kenya, Tanzania and other African countries have sought to introduce bills that are similar to the Anti-Homosexuality Act. Officials in Nigeria and other African countries over the last year continued to crack down on LGBTQ people.

The Namibia Supreme Court on May 16 ruled the country’s government must recognize same-sex marriages that were legally performed abroad.

#2 Indian Supreme Court rules against marriage equality

The Indian Supreme Court (Photo by TK Kurikawa via Bigstock)

The Indian Supreme Court on Oct. 17 issued its long-anticipated ruling that did not extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The justices earlier in the year heard oral arguments in the landmark case. The Supreme Court in its ruling said lawmakers must decide whether to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples.

The Supreme Court on Nov. 23 agreed to consider an appeal of the ruling, although observers with whom the Blade has spoken say they don’t expect it to succeed. The Supreme Court in 2018 struck down India’s colonial-era sodomy law.

#1 War in Israel and Ukraine

Rockets launched from the Gaza Strip head towards Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.
(YouTube screen capture)

Hamas on Oct. 7 launched a surprise attack against southern Israel.

The attack killed more than 1,000 Israelis, and militants from Hamas and other Muslim extremist groups kidnapped more than 200 people. The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry says Israeli airstrikes have killed upwards of 20,000 people in the Gaza Strip.

LGBTQ activists in Israel since Oct. 7 have worked to help people in the country whom the war has displaced.

Meanwhile, Russia’s war against Ukraine continues. 

Oksana Markarova, the country’s ambassador to the U.S., on Jan. 26 during an event in Washington that highlighted LGBTQ Ukrainian servicemembers thanked activists for their work in support of equal rights.

“Thank you for everything you do in Kyiv, and thank you for everything that you do in order to fight the discrimination that still is somewhere in Ukraine,” said Markarova.


Looking Back: The Year in Review

Looking Back: The year in LGBTQ+ rights progress and setbacks

The ACLU reported that more than 500 anti-trans bills had been filed in state legislatures this year, and unfortunately, too many became law



President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Pride celebration, Saturday, June 10, 2023, on the South Lawn of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

By Rob Salerno | LOS ANGELES – 2023 turned out to be an eventful year in the fight for LGBTQ rights across America. 

While the increasing polarization between red and blue states has put queer Americans on edge in half the country, there were nevertheless bright spots and things to look forward to in 2024.

Biden administration wins

President Joe Biden talks with Vice President Kamala Harris after signing an Executive Order to Strengthen Access to Affordable, High-Quality Contraception and Family Planning Services, Friday, June 23, 2023, in the Oval Office of the White House.
(Official White House Photo by Adam Schultz)

The Biden administration continued to notch policy wins despite Democrats losing control of the House this year. Biden successfully got more than 60 federal judges confirmed this year – and putting more liberals on the federal courts will help protect and expand queer rights for years to come.

The FDA ended its discriminatory ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men, ending a long-term irritant for the queer community.

The administration has also proposed new rules that would require prospective foster parents to support foster kids’ gender identity, although this rule is being challenged by Republican state attorneys-general

The Department of Education also proposed a rule that would ban blanket bans on trans youth playing sports on teams that correspond to their gender identity. That proposed rule didn’t go as far as the affirmative protection for trans athletes that activists had wanted, but it still saw a Republican backlash.

On the international front, Biden spoke out in support of Intersex people’s rights at the United Nations General Assembly. He also supported LGBTQ rights by speaking out against Uganda’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Act, and penalizing the country by removing it from a free trade program due to its deteriorating human rights record.

Supreme Court continues to chip away at rights

United States Supreme Court building. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Supreme Court blew a hole through anti-discrimination laws with its 303 Creative decision, which found in favor of a web designer who didn’t want to design web sites for same-sex weddings.

Never mind that the case appears to have been based on an entirely fictional set of circumstances. The ruling was a gift to any business that wants to discriminate against queer people by simply claiming that their work is creative or expressive and therefore protected by the first amendment. Courts will be sorting out this mess for a long time. 

State Democrats advance queer rights

After winning new unified control over state governments in Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Michigan, state Democrats quickly set to work advancing long-stalled LGBT initiatives.

Maryland and Minnesota repealed their defunct sodomy laws, while bills to do the same are pending in Michigan and Massachusetts and will likely see action next year. They also banned conversion therapy and updated their civil rights laws to ban all forms of anti-LGBT discrimination, and Michigan began the process of updating its family laws to reflect the realities of same-sex marriage and parenting. Both states are also considering laws to ban the “gay/trans panic” defense, and the defense was also banned in Delaware and New Hampshire – the latter a rare example of a state under Republican control advancing an LGBT rights bill.

Unfortunately, Michigan Democrats lost their narrow House majority in November when two members resigned after winning local mayoral elections. They won’t regain it until by-elections are held in April, which may stall further advances next year.

But at the same time, Virginia Democrats regained control of the state legislature, which will help ensure the state remains a bulwark against anti-LGBT legislation in the South.

Democratic governors across the country also signed bills and executive orders protecting trans health care, and ensuring safety for trans people moving to their states to access care, while Arizona’s Democratic Governor Hobbs also banned conversion therapy.

California continued to lead the way

California Governor Gavin Newsom at a 2022 Pride event at the Governor’s mansion in Sacramento. (Photo Credit: Office of the Governor)

California Democrats continued to lead the conversation on expanding LGBTQ rights, passing several new laws protecting individuals’ right to privacy regarding a legal name and gender change, requiring sensitivity training for school workers, and expanding bathroom access. 

The state also banned local school boards from banning books related to LGBTQ and race/culture issues, in response to Temecula Valley Unified School District’s decision to ban a book about queer civil rights leader Harvey Milk.

Governor Newsom appointed Black out lesbian Laphonza Butler to the Senate after the death of longtime queer ally Diane Feinstein. Butler has said she’s not running to hold the seat next year.

Next year, Californians will be asked to vote to repeal Prop 8, the defunct constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage, but Republicans are also trying to add anti-trans questions to the November ballot. There are also initiatives pending to repeal state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage in Hawaii, Oregon and Michigan, and state Democrats are already talking about restarting the repeal process in Virginia.

Republicans continued their anti-trans and anti-abortion crusade

LGBTQ rights under assault graphic illustration for Chatham House, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, 2023 annual report by Fredrik Andersson, a Swedish Illustrator currently living in London, UK.

The ACLU reported that more than 500 anti-trans bills had been filed in state legislatures this year, and unfortunately, too many of them actually became law. 

Across the country, Republican-controlled legislatures passed sweeping anti-trans laws restricting access to medical transition for both youth and adults, restricting insurance coverage for trans medical care, forcibly outing trans students, allowing or requiring schools and teachers to misgender their trans students, barring trans athletes from competing in their preferred gender division, and banning public performances that included drag or trans performers.

Despite the incredible breadth and quick advance of anti-trans legislation, there is still hope. For one, courts have taken an increasingly dim view of many of these laws, and the clear anti-trans animus with which they were enacted. While litigation will likely continue for years over these issues, there’s a strong likelihood that these laws will get struck down.

We’ve also seen inspiring stories of resistance to these laws in surprising places. Nebraska Senator Megan Hunt carried out a session-long one-woman filibuster of every bill before the legislature in an attempt to get Republicans to drop a bill banning care for trans youth. Montana representative and out trans woman Zooey Zephyr, galvanized nationwide support after Republicans barred her from speaking in the legislature in response to her telling them that they would “have blood on [their] hands” for passing a medical care ban for trans youth.

And Republicans’ obsession with fighting trans people was directly tied in with their efforts to ban abortion – which may ultimately be their undoing. Abortion bans that have been enacted or come into effect across the country since last year’s Dobbs ruling have proven deeply unpopular with voters, who are beginning to turn on Republicans. 

Democrats have been able to galvanize anger over abortion restrictions to notch big victories in elections all year, including for byelections, judicial elections, and two referendums that were tied to abortion rights in Ohio. Democrats look likely to capitalize on this strategy in 2024, with abortion rights referenda already approved for the ballots in Maryland and New York, and potentially on the ballot in up to ten other states. New York’s abortion question will also include language prohibiting anti-LGBT discrimination. It’s possible that Republican overreach on these deeply unpopular issues could help drive Democratic turnout for both the presidential election and state legislative elections in November.

Still, it shouldn’t be overlooked that these awful laws are causing real pain for real people in Republican-led states right now.

Comings and goings from Congress

George Santos balloon on the West side of the U.S. Capitol in November, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Openly gay US Rep David Cicilline resigned from Congress this year to become the CEO of the non-profit Rhode Island Foundation. Cicilline has been an advocate for LGBTQ rights throughout his long political career. Gay Republican George Santos both began and ended his time in Congress this year. Aside from being an admitted liar who has been accused of multiple felonies and ethics violations, the former aspiring drag queen used his time in office and platform to repeatedly advocate against LGBT issues, especially trans rights. He was expelled from Congress in a rare vote and will only be missed for Bowen Yang’s sublime impersonations on Saturday Night Live.


Rob Salerno is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles, California, and Toronto, Canada.

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Looking Back: The Year in Review

Looking back, a case for hope: Victories trans people won in 2023

2023 was one of the toughest years for transgender people ever, but it was not without its victories. I list the biggest ones here



NYC Times Square New Years Eve Preparation 2024 (Screenshot/YouTube)

By Erin Reed | MISSOULA, MT. – The year 2023 was exceptionally challenging for transgender people. Members of the community have grappled with a surge of legislation affecting every facet of their lives, ranging from bathroom access and sports participation to artistic expression, literature, and healthcare availability.

This onslaught coincides with pervasive inflammatory rhetoric and a presidential election cycle that could decisively impact our rights for an entire generation, accompanied by extensive media coverage platforming extreme transphobia and hate. However, this article will not focus on these difficulties.

Despite these challenges, there have been moments of immense hope that have emerged. It is these victories that trans people can carry into the New Year with hope.

Here are all of the biggest victories for transgender people in 2023:

Court Victories

Legislative And Policy Victories

Election Victories

Studies and Polls:

International victories

Other victories

Despite the challenges faced by trans people this year, these victories that have been achieved offer reasons for hope. In 2024, trans people will likely continue to face assaults on their basic human rights. Yet, there will be victories as well.

The struggle for trans rights is not one to be resolved in a single year; it is evolving into one of the defining generational battles of our era. Each win this year sows seeds of hope, and these seeds planted today can grow into the movement that will the rights of transgender people for generations to come.


Erin Reed is a transgender woman (she/her pronouns) and researcher who tracks anti-LGBTQ+ legislation around the world and helps people become better advocates for their queer family, friends, colleagues, and community. Reed also is a social media consultant and public speaker.

Follow her on Twitter (Link)

Website here:


The preceding article was first published at Erin In The Morning and is republished with permission.

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Looking Back: The Year in Review

Looking Back: The top 10 Sports events & stories this past year

This past year was filled with firsts & setbacks from a ban imposed by the NHL on Pride Jerseys to the triumphant return of Brittney Griner



LGBTQ+ Inclusion in Sport (Screenshot/YouTube University of Nottingham)

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. – This past year was filled with firsts and also setbacks for queer athletes as well as fans. From a ban imposed by the National Hockey League on display of Pride Jerseys to the triumphant return of WNBA star Brittney Griner to the hardwood, 2023 certainly was unique.

10. Turns out Hockey is Not for Everyone

David Palumbo, You Can Play Hockey’s Vice Chair. (Screenshot/YouTube CBC News)

This past June, the National Hockey League’s Board of Governors agreed that players will no longer wear special rainbow-colored Pride-themed jerseys during warm-ups next season. This was despite the fact that only 7 of the 1,123 active NHL players objected, The autographed Pride jerseys are typically auctioned off to raise money for LGBTQ+ charities. The change was prompted by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s recommendation, who defended his decision using the oldest homophobic trope in LGBTQ+ sports: That anything or anyone queer in sports is a “distraction.”

This was soon followed in October an NHL decision  to prohibit its players from placing tape on their hockey sticks representing social causes, including rainbow-colored Pride tape in support of the LGBTQ community. After considerable outcry including by GLAAD, the League reversed that decision.

9. NFL’s Carl Nassib Finds Love… Then Retires

Søren Dahl and Carl Nassib via Nassib/Instagram

In January of this year, the National Football League’s first out gay player confirmed his relationship with Olympic swimmer Søren Dahl on Instagram.

Dahl, who competed in the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, is seen wearing a Buccaneers jersey with Nassib’s number 94, and the linebacker has his arm around Dahl’s waist. 

Although there have been a series of snapshots since last summer featuring Nassib and Dahl together on the beach, in a club, and at the gym, this is the first one in which Nassib wrote something to clarify they are dating: “Kicking off 2023 with my man and a trip to the playoffs,” he captioned the photo. Until now, Nassib has been extremely private about his personal life.

Although they dedicated themselves to different sports and were born in different countries, Nassib and Dahl are the same age, 29, celebrating birthdays just months apart. 

This past Fall, Nassib, who made history in 2021 when he became the first active player in the NFL to come out as gay, announced he is retiring at age 30. 

“It really feels like just yesterday starting out as a walk-in at Penn State,” Nassib wrote in his post. “Football has given me more than I ever could have imagined. I can truly hang up my helmet for the last time knowing I gave it everything I had.” 

Ever since he came out in 2021, the former defensive end for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has become a philanthropist for the LGBTQ+ community, especially for queer youth.

8. Trans Inclusion Roller Coaster: From DartsChess, Disc Golf to Swimming, & Cycling

On Sunday, December 3rd, New Zealand’s Victoria Monaghan made history as the first transgender woman to compete in the World Darts Federation’s World Darts Championship. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Trans athletes of all sports have for the most part had a rocky year as evidenced by the push by national and international sports federations to ban them from participating. In recent years, those lobbying for restrictions on transgender individuals have focused heavily on sports. Some of the most influential anti-trans lobbyists in this arena, such as Terry Schilling of the American Principles Project, have stated that sports are an easy way to sell anti-trans policies to people who might otherwise reject discrimination.

On December 3rd, Victoria Monaghan made history as the first transgender woman to compete in the World Darts Federation’s World Darts Championship. Monaghan, who has played darts since she was 12, mentioned that the New Zealand Darts Council has been incredibly supportive of her participation.

This past August, FIDE, the world’s foremost international chess organization, has introduced guidelines that would revoke titles from transgender men and bar many transgender women from competing, asserting that trans women “have no right to participate.”

On the same day in July that a ban on transgender women athletes was issued by Union Cycliste Internationale, the organizers of World Cycling in Switzerland, the Disc Golf Pro Tour announced it had “adjusted its competition schedule” to prevent trans women from competing with cisgender female athletes. 

Also in July, a year and a month after banning transgender competitors, the head of World Aquatics told the World Aquatics Congress that his organization is setting up an “open category” that will include trans swimmers, at some point in the future. “This is a very complex topic,” Husain Al-Musallam the first vice president of FINA, the International Swimming Federation said to the Associated Press adding: “Our sport must be open to everybody.”

7. Trans Nonbinary Firsts:  Out Trans Nonbinary Referee, Trans Nonbinary World Cup, Trans Nonbinary track record holder 

Trans nonbinary football trailblazer Quinn & trans nonbinary sprinter Nikki Hiltz (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Che Flores, who pronounces their first name “Shay,” is no stranger to basketball. But basketball has never ever seen someone like Flores on the floor. 

After refereeing at least 1,000 games over 14-years in three countries, working in three professional leagues as well as college athletics and deciding the fate of 10 championship games, Flores started their second season in the National Basketball League this week. 

What’s different is that Flores did so as their authentic self: On Oct. 24, they came out as transgender nonbinary.

In July of this year, Canada is geared up for its second match in the FIFA Women’s World Cup, facing Ireland with trans nonbinary trailblazer Quinn expected back on the pitch. Earlier, Quinn made history by playing in the team’s opener against Nigeria, without even scoring a goal; They are the first out trans nonbinary player to compete in soccer’s international championship.

Ten-thousand miles away in Monaco, trans nonbinary sprinter Nikki Hiltz set a new U.S. national record that has stood for nearly 40 years. Although they finished in sixth place, the Aptos, Calif. native ran the mile in 4 minutes, 16.35 seconds, breaking the mark of 4:16.71, set in 1985 by Mary Slaney. 

These two trans nonbinary stars are being celebrated in each of their sports. Earlier this month, Hiltz, 28, became the first out trans nonbinary athlete to win a USA Track and Field national title.

Quinn, 27, shared a post on Instagram about their part in a new corporate initiative from GE Appliances, “See Them, Be Them.” 

“I remember some of my favourite memories growing up were the opportunities I had to see my role models playing on the world stage and I’m so excited to be experiencing the other side of that now,” they captioned the post, which shows them talking with young soccer players. “We need more opportunities for girl and gender diverse soccer players to see their future in the sport.”

6. Caster Semenya Wins at European Court of Human Rights

Caster Semenya (Screenshot/BBC)

Two-time Olympic champion Caster Semenya, who has been sidelined from her signature track and field event since 2019, has finally won an appeal of testosterone rules that the European Court of Human Rights say discriminated against her. 

Even so, the South African runner cannot expect to be back in the 800 meter race anytime soon, according to track and field’s governing body.

That’s because Semenya’s case was solely against the government of Switzerland, whose Supreme Court upheld rules imposed by World Athletics, not against the sports organization itself. Although a 4-3 majority of judges on the European Court found “serious questions” about the validity of those rules, World Athletics said in reaction to the decision that its rules would remain in place, according to the Associated Press.

5. Sha’Carri Richardson Is The Fastest Woman in the World

Sha’Carri Richardson (Screenshot/YouTube NBC Sports)

Ahead of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, Out sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was suspended after testing positive for marijuana. This August however, Richardson ran a championship record 10.65 seconds in the final at the track and field 2023 World Athletics Championships on Monday (21 August), taking 0.02 seconds off the previous best set by Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce last year and also breaking her personal record.

“I would definitely say it’s a good start,” Richardson said in the press conference in Budapest afterward when asked about her result in her debut major international championships. “From the beginning of the journey, I’m honoured, I’m blessed, it was a great competition and brought out the best in myself. I’m not back, I’m better, and I’m going to continue to be better.”

4. Out Gay Coach Becky Hammon Leads Aces to Back to Back Championships

Becky Hammon (Photo Credit: Sportswomen of Colorado)

WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces head coach Becky Hammon led her team to their second consecutive championship this past October, making Las Vegas the WNBA’s first back-to-back champions since the Los Angeles Sparks won it all in 2001 and 2002.

Hammon is partnered with former basketball player and coach Brenda Milano. They have been together since 2015 and are raising two sons, Samuel and Cayden. 

Hammon has invested 16 years in the WNBA, and as The Athletic reported, she was a six-time All-Star with two first-team All-WNBA honors. As a coach, she was the first full-time female assistant in NBA history, with the San Antonio Spurs, the first female head coach in the NBA Summer League, the first woman on a coaching staff at an NBA All-Star Game, the first female acting head coach in an NBA game and the first rookie coach to win a WNBA championship. 

This summer, Hammon was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

3. Ali Krieger Wins Championship but Loses Her Marriage

Ashlyn Harris with daughter and Ali Krieger. (Photo Credit: Instagram)

In November, Ali Krieger raised the National Women’s Soccer League championship trophy after New York’s Gotham FC win over Seattle’s OL Reign. She then ended her career of 17 years as she retired telling reporters “I don’t think I could dream of a better ending for myself,” Krieger said. “I just want to ride off into the sunset and enjoy this with my family and friends and kids, most importantly, and my teammates. My back hurts, my calves hurt. I love it so much and it’s so much fun. But it’s time. This is the perfect ending for me.”

But a month earlier, media reports revealed the former goalkeeper of the U.S. Women’s National Team Ashlyn Harris filed for divorce last September from Krieger. 

Krieger, 39, and Harris, 37, have been together since 2010 and married in December 2019. They have two children together and according to public court documents filed on Sept. 19 in Seminole County, Fla., they must agree to a parenting plan for Sloane, 2 1/2, and Ocean, 14 months. 

The couple welcomed their toddler daughter Sloane via adoption just a few months before being traded. In August 2022, they adopted their second baby, their son, Ocean. The Florida court requires Krieger and Harris to agree on child custody, support, non-disparagement and non-harassment terms as well as attend a parenting class for the divorce to proceed. 

Representatives for Harris and Krieger have not responded to press inquiries. The couple haven’t been seen in an Instagram post together since July. 

2. Soccer Sadness as Megan Rapinoe RetiresSpain wins World Cup with queer players

OL Reign forward Megan Rapinoe
(Photographic montage and graphics courtesy of the OL Reign)

Out lesbian activist, anti-racist, transgender ally and two-time World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe announced on Instagram this past July that the 2023 championship season will be her last.

 “It is with a deep sense of peace and gratitude that I have decided this will be my final season playing this beautiful game,” Rapinoe wrote, in a post that featured a photo of the 38-year-old when the Redding, Calif. native was a little girl. “I never could have imagined the ways in which soccer would shape and change my life forever, but by the look on this little girl’s face, I think she knew all along.” 

In September, with the final score United States 2, South Africa 0, Team USA’s victory in her final match playing for the U.S. Women’s National Team, Rapinoe, walked away from the USWNT at age 38, 17 years and 63 days after her Team USA career began.

That September 24, Sunday game marked her 203rd appearance, with a total of 63 goals scored, 73 assists, two World Cup trophies, an Olympic gold medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, not to mention several hair colors. 

Following the win at Soldier Field, with her fiancée Sue Bird and family among the 25-thousand fans in attendance, the soccer federation paid tribute to Rapinoe with a video.  

“I felt like I was able to grow up in front of you,” she said during a tear-filled address to the crowd. “It has been such an honor to wear this shirt and play out my childhood dream.” 

A tension-filled final match in the FIFA Women’s World Cup was decided by one goal, as Spain shut-out England early Sunday morning in Australia, 1-0.  Each team featured four out queer players on its roster in the final contest as Spain takes home the trophy after a record setting World Cup. After only making it to the Round of 16 in 2019, the women of Spain won their first World Cup title in three tries.

Spain takes home the trophy after a record setting World Cup, in which the champion USWNT was eliminated earlier than ever before, and a record number of out LGBTQ+ players and coaches took part

1. Brittney Griner Signs One Year DealReturns to Action in L.A.! and Sets WNBA Record

Phoenix Mercury’s Brittney Griner held a press conference Thursday morning. (Screenshot/YouTube KTVK/KPHO)

Last April after nearly a year of being imprisoned in Russia on contrived drug charges, preparing for the upcoming 2023 WNBA season, Brittney Griner talked with reporters for the first time since returning to play with the Phoenix Mercury. 

“I’m no stranger to hard times,” Griner said, fighting back tears. Asked how she became so resilient after spending nearly 10 months in a Russian prison on drug charges, she said: “Just grind it out. Just put your head down and just keep going and moving forward.” 

In a wide-ranging news conference that attracted more media and dignitaries than a typical practice, Griner spoke about her imprisonment in Russia, her appreciation for those who supported her and her wife during those terrible months and what’s next for her: A memoir about how she survived the experience she called “unfathomable.”

“I’m never playing overseas again,” the two-time gold medalist said, making only one exception for a return to the Olympics. “The only time I would want to would be to represent the USA.” 

Griner, who regained her freedom in December 2022 in a prisoner swap between Russia and the United States, signed a one year contract in February worth $165,100, according to ESPN

Leading her team, Griner and her teammates guards Maria Jefferson, Diana Taurasi and center Megan Gustafson combined to set a WNBA record, with 45 points in the first quarter of a historic home victory over the Connecticut Sun that landed them in the WNBA’s annals of fame in August.  The players shot an incredible 94.1% from the floor in that quarter alone. No team in league history has ever scored that many points in a quarter. The Mercury enjoyed a 21-point lead until the Sun roared back in the second quarter and cut their lead to four at halftime. Phoenix won by six, 90-84. 

The Out lesbian led her team with 21 points and 10 rebounds, with Jefferson right behind her with 17 points and five assists. Taurasi and Gustafson finished with 16 and 10 points respectively. 

Honorable Mentions

1. Dodgers Pride Drag Fiasco: Sen. RubioDrag Nuns Ban, Reversal of Ban and Protests at Pride

2. MMA Fighter Comes Out as Bi After Being Outed

3. First Out Gay Male Coach in the NFL

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Looking Back: The Year in Review

Looking Back: The top 10 queer-centric movies of 2023

It’s been a great year for movies, but that’s made it harder than usual for us to compile our annual list of the 10 best queer-centric films



Los Angeles Blade graphic

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. – It’s been a great year for movies, we’re glad to say, but that’s made it harder than usual for us to compile our annual list of the 10 best queer-centric films. Still, we’ve made the hard calls necessary, and come up with our picks for the most outstanding of all the movies we’ve covered over the last 12 months.

You all know how these things work, so we won’t waste space with unnecessary explanations. Here, listed in reverse order, are the Blade’s Top Ten Films of 2023:

10. Rustin (Dir: George C. Wolfe)

Former President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a special event at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture at a screening of the Netflix film ‘Rustin’ in Washington D.C. on Nov. 10, 2023.
(Photo Credit: Netflix)

Biopics face a difficult challenge when it comes to presenting an authentic portrayal of their subject: How do you encapsulate a person’s life into a two-hour story without relying on broad strokes? This frank and inspiring look at Civil Rights hero Bayard Rustin, whose monumental contribution to the movement was all-but-unsung for decades thanks to his open homosexuality, skirts the usual pitfalls by focusing on a specific episode in his career-orchestrating the 1963 March on Washington where MLK delivered his culture-shifting “I Have a Dream” speech – and delivering a behind-the-scenes snapshot of a seminal moment in American history at a time when stories about the triumph of activism feel more urgent than ever. Even so, it makes it onto our list mainly on the strength of star Colman Domingo, whose unapologetically thorny interpretation of the late queer icon is an engrossing – and refreshingly un-romanticized – powerhouse from start to finish.

9. Of An Age (Dir: Goran Stolevski)

Elias Anton and Thom Green star in ‘Of An Age.’ (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)

What yearly “Best of” list would be complete without one or two under-the-radar gems? This Australian import (made in 2022, but released in the U.S. early this year) qualifies on both counts, but more importantly it’s a reminder that – despite frequent complaints to the contrary – there are great queer romance movies being made. This one is about two teens (Elias Anton and Thom Green) who spend a day together and fall hard for each other, but time and circumstance are not on their side; years later, reunited at a wedding, they find the connection between them has endured, but it may be too late to do anything about it. It’s a simple premise, and not much happens in terms of plot, but the winning authenticity of the love story it tells – and the way it captures unresolvable longing – is infinitely and universally relatable. It’s not a gay love story, it’s a love story between two people who happen to be gay, and that makes all the difference.

8. Rotting in the Sun (Dir: Sebastian Silva)

Jordan Firstman and Sebastián Silva in ‘Rotting in the Sun.’ (Photo courtesy MUBI)

Even more under-the-radar, perhaps, is this out-of-left-field contender from out Chilean-born filmmaker Silva, who casts himself and real-life social media star Jordan Firstman as fictional versions of themselves in an outrageous, interwoven stream-of-events narrative that savagely satirizes the perpetually distracted state of self-obsessed modern culture while offering a darkly humorous commentary on cultural classism. It’s a lot to juggle in a single movie, but Silva pulls it off audaciously in a movie that does not go where you expect it to go and defies easy categorization by blending absurd farce with heartrending tragedy without missing a single beat. It also features un-simulated queer sex, and the fact that bold move is not the main attraction is itself testament to the power of this film’s unique vision. An MVP performance by veteran Chilean actress Catalina Saavedra is the richly satisfying icing on the cake.

7. Asteroid City (Dir: Wes Anderson)

A scene from ‘Asteroid City.’ (Photo courtesy of Focus Features)

This might be a controversial choice for us, given that critical response for this quintessentially Wes-Anderson-y think piece has been sharply divided and that the “queer factor” involved is relatively low; nevertheless, we stand by it, and only partly because the existential summer of “Barbenheimer” (more on that later) began with the quirky cult filmmaker’s visually stunning fantasia about a gathering of disparate characters in a kitschy New Mexican town for a government-sponsored “young inventors” competition during the height of 1950s-era “nuclear panic.” True to form, Anderson places meta-layers upon meta-layers by framing his narrative as a real-life theatrical play – penned by a queer playwright (Edward Norton) having a love affair with his leading man (Jason Schwartzman) – being memorialized in a TV documentary. And while this might make it hard for some to keep track of the story or identify with the characters, it also makes this movie into an almost perfect meditation on the way a cultural “zeitgeist” – in this case, the percolating dread that dominated world consciousness in the aftermath of the atomic bomb – manifests itself in our shared public imagination. An all-star cast of players (including Scarlett Johannson, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton and a host of others) only sweetens the pot.

6. May December (Dir: Todd Haynes)

From acclaimed director Todd Haynes, May December is “masterful,” “spellbinding,” “a wicked complex delight.” Starring Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton. (Screenshot/YouTube Netflix)

It may be no surprise to see the latest film by “new queer cinema” icon Haynes on our list, but rest assured we’re not the only ones to recognize the brilliance of this uncomfortable character study in which a Hollywood actress (Natalie Portman), hired to star in a docudrama about a real-life tabloid sex scandal involving the inappropriate relationship and subsequent marriage between an adult woman (Julianne Moore) and an underage boy, descends on the couple’s household, stirring up long-unaddressed feelings for each of them as she loses herself in the persona of her role. Steeped in the tranquilizing suburban blandness that has always been a hallmark of Haynes’ melancholy, subversively divergent milieu, it’s the kind of movie that feels like a fever dream and leaves you grappling with issues you thought you’d worked out for yourself years ago – and while Portman and longtime Haynes muse Moore both deliver their usual stellar performances, it’s Charles Melton’s unexpectedly nuanced turn as the now-adult object of Moore’s transgressive desires that provides its troubled heart.

5. Oppenheimer (Dir: Christopher Nolan)

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer is an IMAX®-shot epic thriller.
(Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

OK, there’s not really a specific queer angle to this introspective, epic-length film about the man who built the atom bomb, but the themes and questions it forces us to confront – all tied to the looming specter of effectively instant worldwide annihilation we’ve been living with ever since the nuclear blasts that brought WWII to an abrupt and sobering end – make it essential viewing anyway. Centered on the white-knuckle intensity of Cillian Murphy’s performance in the title role and bolstered by equally invested work from an all-star ensemble of supporting players (Emily Blunt, Robert Downey, Jr., Matt Damon, and more), Nolan’s finely wrought biopic becomes a meditation on responsibility, blame, the madness of mutually assured destruction, and – most significantly of all – living with an omnipresent sense of inevitable doom. Yet as depressing as all that sounds, the film resonates with enough humanity and compassion – even for its most ethically challenging characters – that we can walk away from it with something that feels almost like hope.

4. All of Us Strangers (Dir: Andrew Haigh)

Paul Mescal and Andrew Scott in ‘All of Us Strangers.’ (Photo courtesy of Searchlight Pictures)

Invading our list from the UK is the latest film from the writer/director who raised the bar for queer romance movies with 2011’s “Weekend,” a haunted (literally) love story in which a lonely London screenwriter (Andrew Scott) communes with the ghosts of his long-deceased parents (Claire Foy, Jaime Bell) while beginning a tentative relationship with a handsome but palpably sad neighbor (Paul Mescal). Based on a novel by Japanese author Taichi Yamada, it’s a ghostly tale more esoteric than supernatural, driven by mood, draped in primary colors, and infused with life through the tenderness between its two fragile lovers, less interested in the details of a hypothetical afterlife than it is in the bonds of love – in all its forms – which connect us to each other beyond time and mortality. Sure, it’s gloomy on the surface, and it brushes up against sorrows that are mercifully unfathomable to many of us, but it somehow manages to leave us uplifted rather than unsettled – and almost as a bonus, the sweet-and-sexy chemistry between its leading men will stick with you long after the final credits roll.

3. Saltburn (Dir: Emerald Fennell)

Barry Keoghan (center, with antlers) in SALTBURN.
(Photo courtesy Amazon Studios_Prime Video)

We’re not going to lie: part of what earns this gnarly, aggressively twisted movie a high place on our list is its audaciousness. In its tale of Oliver Quick (Barry Keoghan), a working class lad on scholarship to Oxford whose infatuation with a charismatic and wealthy classmate (Jacob Elordi) leads to a debauched and treacherous summer at the elegantly dilapidated country estate of the title, it turns a vaguely Dickensian story of fate, irony, and social commentary into an escalating wild ride that takes us places we don’t expect to go and never wanted to see, and it makes us love every guilty second of it. Yes, it’s dark and depraved, an over-the-top, starkly satirical look into the casually cruel world of the “ruling class” that forces us to ask just how far we would be willing to go to become a part of it, and it uses our own expectations against us to deliver a bombshell ending that might feel like a slap in the face for those who aren’t paying close attention (and possibly for those who are, too) – but all of that gives us even more reason to laud this second effort from the daring writer/director of “Promising Young Woman” as one of the most thrilling and unforgettable cinematic experiences of the year.

2. Killers of the Flower Moon (Dir: Martin Scorsese)

Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon.’
(Photo courtesy Paramount Pictures/Apple Original Films)

Like “Oppenheimer,” there’s no direct queer thread to be found in this late-career masterpiece from one of America’s most accomplished cinema artists, but its exploration of the deeply embedded racism that has been woven throughout our nation’s history has obvious resonance for anyone whose status as an “other” places them at risk of exploitation, oppression, and worse in a culture that is stacked against them. Based on the non-fiction book by David Gann, it chronicles a conspiracy in 1920s Oklahoma in which the indigenous Osage community, made rich by the oil fields under its tribal land, was robbed of its wealth by local white business leaders through a systematic campaign of marriage and murder, and the efforts of the then-fledgling FBI to bring the perpetrators to some kind of justice. With career-highlight performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert DeNiro, as well as a revelatory turn from indigenous actor Lily Gladstone, there’s more than enough great acting to keep us mesmerized throughout its three-and-a-half-hour runtime – and the same understanding of the pathology of corruption that Scorsese deployed in his classic sagas about organized crime breathes powerful insight into a story that has just as much to say about the America we live in today as the one in which it takes place.

1. Barbie (Dir: Greta Gerwig)

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie go on a road trip to reality in ‘Barbie.’
(Photo courtesy of Warner Bros Studios)

When we first predicted this would be the movie of the year, our tongue may have been firmly planted in our cheek – but we’re not sorry to be able to say we were right. Not just a campy fantasy about a doll, it’s a truth bomb delivered in a candy-colored Trojan Horse, in which an unexpected existential crisis (do we detect a running theme in this year’s movies?) sends Barbie (Margot Robbie) into the human world looking for answers and ends up turning her own world upside down as Ken (Ryan Gosling), having seen the glories of “the patriarchy”, tries to remake Barbieland in his own image. It’s a premise that gives Gerwig (and partner Noah Baumbach, with whom she co-wrote the screenplay) plenty of fodder to skewer contemporary culture, and she takes aim at all the usual targets as she gleefully spreads the kind of progressive, humanitarian, pro-feminist, socially ethical messaging that conservative pundits like to fall over themselves dismissing as “woke” propaganda. But that’s not the endgame in this transcendent wonder of a movie, because Gerwig and company take things beyond the dualistic dogmas that stymie us in our quest for a more equitable world to ask some much deeper questions, creating a piece of absurdist cinema with as much intellectual weight as any film you’re ever likely to see. Of course, viewers hung up on the “culture war” talking points being batted around from every direction might not notice, any more than they are likely to notice the comprehensive array of nods and tributes she pays along the way to the iconic movies that inspired her, but one of the many joys of “Barbie” is that it reveals more with each repeat viewing – so there’s always hope they’ll catch on, eventually.

Oh, and even if the only queer content it contains comes in the form of deliciously unsubtle innuendo, there’s something quintessentially queer about it – and we’re not just talking about the color palette.

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Looking Back: The Year in Review

Top 10 national news stories of 2023

It was an alarming year for queer Americans as state legislatures took aim from gender-affirming care for transgender people to banning books



(Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – It was an alarming year for queer Americans as state legislatures took aim at everything from gender-affirming care for transgender people to banning books with queer themes. Here are the Blade’s staff picks for the top 10 stories of 2023.

#10 Pride at the White House

President Joe Biden speaks at the White House Pride month reception on June 10, 2023
(Washington Blade photo by Christopher Kane)

The Biden-Harris administration in June hosted the largest Pride celebration ever held on White House grounds. Thousands gathered on the South Lawn to hear the president reaffirm his commitment to the LGBTQ community, decry the introduction and passage of legislation targeting queer people, and outline new actions the administration would take to tackle issues from bias-motivated threats and violence to youth homelessness. After the event, right-wing activists drew attention to a trans activist attendee’s topless TikTok video, which prompted a rebuke from the White House. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the “influencer” would not be invited back.

#9 Off-year elections spell victory for Dems, poor showing for Moms for Liberty


Polls show that Democrats largely over-performed in off-year elections that were held in November 2023, with Democratic hopefuls in competitive races securing decisive victories up and down the ballot – from the gubernatorial race in Kentucky to school board contests in states across the country. Moms for Liberty, an anti-LGBTQ right-wing organization considered an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, backed 139 candidates in school board races who vowed to oppose books, materials, and classroom discussion or instruction on LGBTQ matters or those concerning racial justice. Just over a third of those candidates – 50  – won.

#8 FDA finalizes new, inclusive blood donation guidelines

FDA Headquarters, Silver Spring, MD. (Photo Credit: GSA)

Gay and bisexual men who have sex with men have been prohibited from donating blood for decades since the discovery of AIDS, with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration narrowing its restrictions only twice since the 1980s. Revisiting blood donation guidelines has been a major priority for the Biden-Harris administration, and the FDA’s decision this year to take a major step away from the discriminatory ban was lauded by LGBTQ groups – some of which vowed that they would continue, in the words of GLAAD President Sarah Kate Ellis, “advocating for the FDA to lift all restrictions against qualified LGBTQ blood donor candidates.”

 #7 Battle over the Republican speakership

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) narrowly secured the votes to become speaker in January and only after a historic 15 ballots were cast. He was summarily ousted by a small group of ultraconservative members before the end of the year, throwing the House into turmoil as the Republican conference flailed for weeks without a speaker until they united around U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.). Johnson is an anti-LGBTQ far-right Christian fundamentalist who has advocated for the reinstatement of sodomy laws and nurtured close ties with the most extreme figures on the religious right.

 #6 Pelosi steps down from leadership and is interviewed by the Blade

Rep. Nancy Pelosi chats with the Blade’s White House correspondent Christopher Kane on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
(Photo courtesy of the Office of Nancy Pelosi)

In January, just after the end of her tenure as one of the most celebrated and accomplished House speakers, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) sat down with the Washington Blade in her office for an interview about her work advancing the social, legal, and political equality of LGBTQ people in America. From her first speech on the House floor in 1987 demanding congressional action on AIDS to her leadership in 2022 passing the Respect for Marriage Act, the California Democrat has been at the forefront of the battle for LGBTQ rights while also blazing a trail for women to serve in the highest levels of American politics and government.

#5 George Santos drama

Activists from display a 15-foot balloon depicting Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) on Nov. 28.
(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

Before his time in Washington had even begun, the first out gay Republican elected to Congress was revealed to be a total fraud with respect to matters that ranged from the frivolous (claims of collegiate athletic prowess) to the legally actionable (pilfering campaign donations to buy Ferragamo loafers and content on OnlyFans). At first, House Republican leadership stood by Santos through the torrent of unflattering news coverage, mindful of the party’s narrow majority control of the lower chamber. Eventually, however, lawmakers were handed a damning report by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee and made the unprecedented move of booting him out of office.  

#4 303 Creative v. Elenis

United States Supreme Court (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which is deemed an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, represented a Colorado website designer who, though she had never been asked to provide services in connection with a same-sex wedding, feared that she would be prohibited from refusing such a request because of the state’s LGBTQ inclusive nondiscrimination statute. The U.S. Supreme Court not only agreed to review the case, concluding that the business owner had standing to sue, but ruled in her favor – delivering a blow to LGBTQ rights in a decision weakening the court’s precedent on marriage equality.

#3 Anti-trans policies to figure prominently in Trump v. Biden rematch 

Trump v. Biden 2020 (Screenshot/YouTube CTV)

Former President Trump has maintained a decisive lead over the rest of the Republican presidential primary field since the start of 2023, which has widened considerably since the summer. Announcing his plans to run again in January, Trump outlined a plan of attack against transgender Americans, including policy proposals targeting access to gender affirming care and appeals for congressional Republicans to define gender as immutable and assigned at birth. President Biden, meanwhile, has no meaningful competition from other Democrats leading into 2024, and has vowed to protect and defend transgender Americans while taking steps to shore up protections for the community during his time in office.

#2 Major companies fend off right-wing attacks

(Screenshot/YouTube CBS Mornings)

The year 2023 saw publicly traded corporations like Target and Anheuser-Busch InBev take financial hits after their outreach to LGBTQ communities inspired reactionary right-wing backlash. The companies’ responses, in turn, ignited criticism from LGBTQ customers who felt abandoned by their decisions to, for instance, scale back on next year’s Pride collections. Transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney partnered with Bud Light for a social media promotion in April – consisting of a single video posted on her Instagram page – and it was only in December that right-wing activist and musician Kid Rock dropped his boycott against the company, having made headlines months earlier by mowing down cases of the product with an assault rifle.

#1 State of emergency for LGBTQ people in America

(Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

State legislatures across the country introduced more than 500 bills targeting the LGBTQ community in 2023, passing 75 in 23 states. Most are restrictions on medically necessary healthcare interventions for transgender minors, treatments that are backed by every scientific and medical society with relevant clinical expertise. Others target trans student athletes, restrict bathroom and locker room access, or prohibit schools from any discussion or instruction on matters of sexual orientation and gender identity. LGBTQ people and their families have become refugees in their own country. And the Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for the first time ever.

Honorable mention: Blade uncovers Trevor Project scandals

In July, the Washington Blade broke an explosive exposé concerning one of the country’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organizations, the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention services to LGBTQ youth. The story revealed financial woes, raised questions about the possible mismanagement of millions of dollars in funds, and pointed to staff dissension — including over management’s alleged union-busting efforts. 


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Looking Back: The Year in Review

Revisiting 10 of our favorite A&E stories of 2023

Hollywood strikes, celebrity interviews, and more as the Washington & Los Angeles Blades look back at 2023



Our interview with David Archuleta proved one of the most popular Blade stories of 2023. (David Archuleta photo by Zach Schmitt)

HOLLYWOOD – By any estimation, 2023 was a chaotic year in the world of pop culture, from strikes by the various acting and screenwriting unions to an attack on LGBTQ material both in book form and in drag performances.

The Washington Blade and Los Angeles Blade staff worked hard all year to highlight the heartfelt, the talented, and the creatives that exuded queer power. Now as this turbulent year ends, it’s time to look back on the entertainment milestones and the best conversations we had in 2023. The list was compiled based on the exclusivity of the story to the Blades and the stories’ popularity with readers. 

First, the honorable mentions that could easily have been in this top 10 list:

Jamie Lee Curtis spoke out as the mom of a trans daughter in our article “If your kids are trans.” Her bottom line: Love is love. While getting an interview with him was not difficult (we know where he lives), Washington Blade editor Kevin Naff gave us exclusive insight into his new book “How We Won the War for LGBTQ Equality — And How Our Enemies Could Take It All Away.” The article, “Lessons learned & how to win the coming equality rights battles” featured an interview with Naff and contained lots of entertainment “tea.” Karen Carpenter, an iconic voice of the past, rocked our entertainment section this year as well. We talked about her legacy 40 years after her death with author and documentary filmmaker Randy L. Schmidt in our article “Starving for perfection.” The last “honorable mention” is the Blade article on a Los Angeles-area musical discovery, Kyle Rising. Kyle is unique and powerful, and Blade readers were fascinated pushing our article “New sound ‘Rising’ echoes past yet escapes predictable genres” to the top of our charts.

Celebrating the best of 2023, here are 10 of our favorite arts & entertainment stories:

#10 “Real Friends of WeHo proves to be the epicenter of … something.” The show crashed and burned as the Daily Beast labelled it “a colossal gay nightmare.” Our readers were fascinated by our coverage of its impending doom.

#9 “Amazon Prime Video flirts with a regressive LGBTQ-erasure image.” A League of Their Own was a show that did not deserve to be shelved after one season. Readers were enthralled at our scathing criticism of Amazon and the “bullshit and cowardly” cancellation.

#8  “Drag Isn’t Dangerous Telethon overflows with emotion, cash.” Drag performers received unprecedented amounts of vitriol this year across the country. When they put together a telethon to fight back, our readers showed up.

#7 “Queer Eyeing for the Dead Guy” featured a group of LGBTQ ghost hunters who were seeking to give afterlife make-overs.

#6 “We don’t need another hero — there will only ever be one Tina Turner.” Like most of the western world, we grieved the loss of the icon. So did our readers, in the hundreds of thousands. “For the non-conforming male personas amongst us, and for the female personas among us, she was our phoenix rising from the ashes of toxic masculinity, overcoming it, and becoming the epitome of the queen, the warrior, the triumphant.”

#5 “How a talented punk rocking hellion became a ‘Bottom for God.’” Music producer Barb Morrison gave us an exclusive about her career, life and adventures into recovery. Readers loved it as much as they did her Blondie and Rufus Wainwright hits. “Morrison’s writing is much like the artistic spirit of their music: very rhythmic, sometimes chaotic, folding in on itself, exhilarating, big, pushing boundaries, peaceful and then bombastically back in your face again.”

#4 “Angelica Ross becomes latest trans talent to choose advocacy over Hollywood bullshit.” Trans representation is a strong theme throughout Blade coverage and this article epitomized it. Angelica Ross’s assertion on the treatment of transgender talent resonated strongly with our readers. 

#3 “Oscar Stembridge’s music reveals his optimism and emotional truth.” The Blades were pleased to introduce the young Swedish indie musician to America, highlighting his Los Angeles debut concert. Clearly, our readers welcomed him with open arms. “His music is an anthem for Generation Z, a suspended cry of hope and disparity amid a larger global socio-political struggle.”

#2 “Sophie B. Hawkins’s new anthems are exactly what LGBTQ youth need.” In our exclusive interview with the musical LGBTQ icon, Sophie B. Hawkins spoke about standing up for uniqueness and fluidity. “Sophie self-identified as an ‘omni-sexual’ in the ‘90s. While others scratched their heads at the term, she embraced concepts that are just now being understood and lived. Her new album, ‘Free Myself,’ underscores the theme of authenticity and taking the freedom to be yourself as you are, and want to be seen.”

At No. 1, our exclusive with the beautiful and vulnerable David Archuleta took place just after he came in second (again) on the popular Masked Singer. It is only fitting that we, and our readers’ love, make him our No. 1 of the year.#1 “David Archuleta may have lost Masked Singer, but he’s winning life.” In our exclusive interview, David spoke candidly about coming out and his internal and external fights with the Mormon Church. “Now he is singing a new song, literally. The song is an anthem that can speak to every trans, LGBTQ+ kid or adult in the community. More, it is a declaration of who David Archuleta is, and what we can expect from him. Yes. Archuleta is back, winning, and this time, he is taking us with him.”


Rob Watson is the host of the popular Hollywood-based radio/podcast show RATED LGBT RADIO.

He is an established LGBTQ columnist and blogger having written for many top online publications including The Los Angeles Blade, The Washington Blade, Parents Magazine, the Huffington Post, LGBTQ Nation, Gay Star News, the New Civil Rights Movement, and more.

He served as Executive Editor for The Good Man Project, has appeared on MSNBC and been quoted in Business Week and Forbes Magazine.

He is CEO of Watson Writes, a marketing communications agency, and can be reached at [email protected] 

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