In alphabetical order
This category celebrates the brands that have successfully promoted to or are popular with the LGBT+ community.
Past winners: MTV, Channel 4
Australia says yes
On December 7 last year, same sex marriage became legal in Australia after an historic bill was passed in the House of Representatives. The vote was met with cheers, applause and even songs of celebration in Parliament. It capped a revelatory year for Australia with regards to LGBT rights. The bill followed a similar vote in the Senate just days before, while a month earlier, a national poll showed that 61.6% of Australians were in favour of allowing same sex couples to wed.
Bill Potts joins Dr Who
Bill Potts, played by Pearl Mackie, became the first openly gay series regular on Doctor Who. The Doctor’s companion, while probably not the first gay character on the show, is certainly the most meaningful LGBT presence the show has ever had. Pearl Mackie said: “That representation is important, especially on a mainstream show. It’s important to say people are gay, people are black – there are also aliens in the world as well so watch out for them.”
Cyrus comes out on Andi Mack
Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, the Mickey Mouse Club: they’re the Disney shows that launched the careers of Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez and Britney Spears. But they all have one thing in common: all the characters were straight. That changed in 2017, when the show Andi Mack featured a gay storyline. In the show, 13-year-old Cyrus realised he had feelings for another boy, called Jonah. Predictably, bigots threatened to boycott the show, but the ratings have been better than ever.
Star Trek Discovery features a same-sex couple
Not only does Star Trek Discovery air on Netflix for your binge-viewing pleasure, but it also features a same sex couple: double win! Stars Anthony Rapp and Wilson Cruz play officers who are in a relationship. Rapp said he was delighted to portray a fully-rounded gay character who exists outside television stereotypes, while Cruz slapped down outraged bigots who complained about the on-screen romance. “You can turn your TV off, sure, but you’ll only be cheating yourself,” he said. “LGBTQ people aren’t going to just disappear because you put your head in the sand.”
A heartbeat animated short film
In less than a week, it racked up 12m views online. As of January 2018, it’s got up to 33m on YouTube alone. Is it the trailer for Avengers? For Star Wars? No! It’s a wordless, animated, four-minute film that shows two young boys falling in love. The short movie, called In a Heartbeat, attracted considerable media attention last year after going viral. It showed that perhaps there is more appetite for gay animated stories than the big studios would have us believe.
Winner! Justin Trudeau apologises to the community
It’s remarkable for a politician to apologise, and even more remarkable when they put their money where their mouth is. But Canadian Prime Minister managed to do both last year when he not only apologised to people persecuted for being gay, but set aside $145m to pay compensation to those purged from public services on the basis of their sexuality. Up until the late 60s, LGBT Canadians were forced to leave their jobs in the military and the civil service because they were presumed to be a threat to national security.
Moonlight wins an Oscar
Many of us will remember the moment that Crash – an emotionally exploitative drama – beat Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain to Best Picture at the Oscars. It showed that no matter how good your gay-themed film was, it’d never bag the big Academy Award. But in 2017, that changed, when a delicate, moving and critically lauded portrayal of the lives of black, gay, underprivileged men took home the big trophy. Moonlight showed that brave filmmaking on LGBT issues could break into the mainstream conscious.
Olly Alexander’s ‘Growing up Gay’ on BBC
Years and Years star Olly Alexander isn’t your average popstar. Articulate and emotional, he’s been a leading light in the LGBT movement over the past few years. In 2017, he filmed a BBC documentary called Growing Up Gay. He looked into his own struggles with bulimia, self-harm, anxiety and depression to analyse why so many LGBT individuals struggle with mental health. “I think as queer people we’re kind of forced to come across like we’re happy and we’re proud,” he said. “We are. But we also need to talk about how we’re feeling.”
Laverne Cox features on Cosmopolitan cover
For their landmark February 2018 #SayYesToLove issue, COSMOPOLITAN South Africa flew to New York to shoot transgender activist and Emmy-nominated actor Laverne Cox. This is Cox’s first COSMOPOLITAN cover, and marks the brand’s first transgender cover girl worldwide – a truly historic moment.
“Your voice matters, the truth of who you know yourselves to be matters. The truth will set you free!” – this is Cox’s powerful message in her exclusive COSMOPOLITAN interview to the LGBTQI+. Adds Cox: “Trans women deserve to be loved out in the open and in the light.”
Will and Grace Come back
It’s hard to overstate the impact that Will And Grace had when it first aired in 1998. It prominently featured gay characters, it was irreverent, it was decorated with 16 Emmy Awards… but perhaps most importantly, it was mainstream. Millions watched the show on NBC in the US, and here in the UK too. The new series, which comes after an 11-year hiatus, allows us to view the characters in a different light, where gay characters are commonplace. Will And Grace now operates in a TV landscape that it helped to change.