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The Year in Queer: Biggest LGBTQ+ Moments of 2019

Written by on December 18, 2019

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Chicago’s party mom, Kristen Kaza, is the Co-Founder of Slo ‘Mo Party and the art gallery / event space / incubator Reunion.

Kristen chatted with Vocalo to break down the biggest local and national LGBTQ+ moments of the year.


 

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50th Anniversary of Stonewall

Kristen Kaza: This year was the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. It was interesting to reflect on this historic event, especially with this explosion of visibility in pop culture that we had this year but also these massive efforts to take us way back in time. I mean, just look at the Supreme Court voting on whether LGBTQ folks should be protected in the workplace. It’s wild to have that juxtaposition of visibility that we’re gaining but also the struggles that still exist right now.

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More Pride Events on Chicago’s South and West Sides

A lot of pride events came to Chicago’s south and west sides. And they were really well attended and got a lot of positive attention this year. Of course, there’s always been queer people on the south side, but to have activities and events happening on such a large scale this year was really great!

The Chicago Reader did a pride event in Bridgeport, Tropiteqa did their event in Ping Tom Park, the Park District had “Queering the Parks,” which was young people putting on pride events that actually continued to take place. So it’s been really great to see intentional efforts being put into providing space for LGBTQ folks all over the city.

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Queer Sports Triumph

It was a great year in queer sports. It was so inspiring to see Megan Rapinoe, this proud and out and queer woman who is also androgynous, just all that kind of representation with her unapologetic fierceness, to see her and the team really take it upon themselves to actually use this as a platform for advocacy.

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More LGBTQ+ Representation in TV

This year saw an explosion in LGBTQ+ representation, especially on TV and in music. What I’m most excited about is all the shows that have so much representation of different kinds of queer and trans folks, like “Work In Progress,” because that’s a Chicago show. I think it has more Chicago people working on it than any shows shot in Chicago ever. And to have this middle-aged gray haired, queer, fat dyke … the wonderful Abby McEnany as the centerpiece of the story, I think is amazing. Showtime didn’t come in and mess with it, and they got to tell the story the way they wanted.

I’m also really excited about the show Pose, season three coming out this summer, season two left has left us hanging with so many questions … what a great show.

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That representation is so important. It’s hard to even imagine Pose happening a few years ago. I think that Billy Porter has been an amazing leader and all the women in the show are absolutely incredible. I’m so glad that Billy Porter is taking his platform and really doing a great job of advocacy, I hope that there will be continued space, support, and platforms given to the trans women who are on the show, the trans femme actresses, they’re all so absolutely incredible. Billy Porter winning the Emmy this year was another groundbreaking watershed moment as the first “out” black male actor to win.

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More LGBTQ+ Representation in Music

Lil NAS X! Maybe the best 2019 of literally anyone I can think of. He went home with MTV Awards with Country Music Association Awards. I love it every time I see Lil Nas X out there wearing lime green or an orange bedazzled outfit just line dancing on the haters. You know, he came out at the end of Pride Month. I really do think that him coming out, gained him so many more fans, certainly gained him more fans than he lost.

When I think about representation in 2019 it is younger people, Gen Z, doing this amazing job being leaders and being nuanced. I think that that what I love so much about Lil NAS X and this generation is that their music is reaching so many people, but they don’t compromise who they are. They still have that kind of integrity. In a year like this year we need those moments.

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Queering of Politics: Mayor Lightfoot and Mayor Pete

I do want to turn our heads to politics. No matter how you feel about the mayor of Chicago, we cannot ignore the fact that it is something notable that we have a black lesbian mayor of the third largest city in the United States. Just put aside politics for a moment and realize how momentous this is.

It’s huge to have folks like Mayor Lightfoot and Mayor Pete running for office, whether you align with their politics or not. I think, actually, the indication that we aren’t just voting based on identity politics is a good thing. In many ways it’s like saying we will we see people as nuanced. We’re not seeing them as just a representation of their identities … we want to go deeper and understand more when we are either supporting or challenging our leaders. And the visibility, of course, that’s incredibly powerful.

Even if we aren’t necessarily huge fans of these people, to have that representation is important, we don’t have to be perfect. Representing minorities, especially multiple layers of minority identities, it’s going to take all different kinds of representation.

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I think, you know, we’re seeing that now that people are not just voting based on identity, but really asking candidates how they are going to represent. We need our leaders to walk the walk, it’s got to be about impact not just image. I am very curious to see how the journey is going to go.

But it has been incredibly powerful. I think we can hold space for being grateful for and feeling that it’s positive to have such diverse representation. The mayoral race came down to Tony Preckwinkle and and Lori Lightfoot. I mean, that’s pretty powerful from a representation standpoint. We want to see that continue and we want to hold all of our leaders accountable … not just stop at you know, representation.

 


 

Interview Edited for Length and Clarity by: Seamus Doheny