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This year's 11 must-read LGBTQ news stories

From the midterm election's "rainbow wave" to parents raising "theybies," here are some of NBC Out's top stories of 2018.

Over 150 LGBTQ candidates claim victory in midterm elections

Sharice Davids, Jared Polis and Angie Craig
Sharice Davids, Jared Polis and Angie CraigWhitney Curtis, Rick T. Wilking, Craig Lassig / Getty Images / AP Images for Human Rights Campaign

More than 150 LGBTQ candidates emerged victorious in the midterms. For perspective, there are currently less than 600 openly LGBTQ elected officials in the U.S. — just 0.1 percent of elected officials nationwide, according to the Victory Institute.

Police at Pride? Gay cops, LGBTQ activists struggle to see eye-to-eye

Gay Pride March Held In New York City
Participants hold a flag that reads "there are no queer friendly cops" in the annual New York Gay Pride Parade, one of the oldest and largest in the world, make their way down 5th Avenue in Manhattan on June 25, 2017 in New York City.William Volcov / Brazil Photo Press/LatinContent/Getty Images file

Last year’s clash between the NYPD and anti-police protesters was not an isolated incident. Protesters in several cities across the U.S. and Canada have, over the past two years, tried to prevent, disrupt or minimize the presence of police officers in pride marches — even though the officers impacted are typically members of LGBTQ police groups, like GOAL. Nonetheless, protesters say they’re doing so to take a stand against police brutality and harassment of marginalized groups, namely people of color and the transgender community.

NCAA athlete disowned by family able to keep GoFundMe donations

From left to right, Grace Hausladen, Emily Scheck, Justyna Wilkinson.
From left to right, Grace Hausladen, Emily Scheck, Justyna Wilkinson.Mike Pesarchick for The Griffin

College sophomore and Division I athlete Emily Scheck, 19, was disowned and left with just $20 to her name after her family found out she has a girlfriend.

Meet the 'radical gay doctor' behind NYC's falling HIV rate

Demetre Daskalakis
Demetre DaskalakisTim Fitzsimons

Since joining the city’s health department in 2013, Daskalakis has promoted a framework for treatment and prevention strategy that he calls “status-neutral care,” which uses the same approach to initial patient care regardless of one’s HIV status. This type of care is intended to reduce HIV stigma and encourage frank discussions about sexual health, HIV risk and prevention options.

'Boy or girl?' Parents raising 'theybies' let kids decide

Image: Kadyn, 3, plays in the park in Cambridge
Kadyn, 3, plays in the park in Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 10, 2018.Annie Tritt / for NBC News

Is Zyler a boy or a girl? How about Kadyn? That’s a question their parents, Nate and Julia Sharpe, say only the twins can decide. The Cambridge, Massachusetts, couple represent a small group of parents raising “theybies” — children being brought up without gender designation from birth. A Facebook community for these parents currently claims about 220 members across the U.S.

'You can't undo surgery': More parents of intersex babies are rejecting operations

Josh, Ori, and Kristina Turner at their home outside Seattle.
Josh, Ori, and Kristina Turner at their home outside Seattle.Brock Stoneham / NBC News

“Gender normalizing” surgeries have been performed on intersex babies and children since at least the 1950s, often in secrecy, without ever telling the children. In the following decades, some people who underwent these surgeries as children began to speak out against them as human rights violations. Some said they had been assigned the wrong gender, while others had endured severe complications, including sexual dysfunction and infertility.

Rejected by parents, valedictorian is going to college, with $50K from donors

Courtesy Seth Owen

With no financial support from his parents, Seth Owen thought he'd have to give up his college dream. Then his mentor helped "make the impossible possible."

Trump's transgender military ban 'worse than don't ask, don't tell,' advocates say

Image: Donald Trump
President Donald Trump walks across the South Lawn of the White House on March 23.Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP file

The Trump administration released two documents outlining the president’s ban on transgender people serving in the military. While LGBTQ-rights advocates say this new measure is even more discriminatory than the now-defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, they also note that recent court rulings prevent the ban from actually taking effect.

Meet Brandon Straka, a gay former liberal encouraging others to #WalkAway from Democrats

Image: #WalkAway founder Brandon Straka on Fox News
#WalkAway founder Brandon Straka on Fox News.FOX News

Three months ago, Brandon Straka was a New York City hairstylist and aspiring actor with a small social media following. Now, he's a frequent Fox News contributor with nearly 70,000 Twitter followers, whose posts have been shared by Donald Trump Jr. and Sarah Palin. His ascent to conservative-media darling began on May 26, when Straka posted a now-viral video describing why he fled the Democratic party.

Kansas lawmaker switches parties over GOP's 'absurd' LGBTQ platform

Kansas State Sen. Barbara Bollier speaks at the Statehouse in Topeka on April 26, 2018.
Kansas State Sen. Barbara Bollier speaks at the Statehouse in Topeka on April 26, 2018.John Hanna / AP file

Kansas State Senator Barbara Bollier has announced that after 43 years as a registered Republican and 10 years as a GOP lawmaker she is switching parties. The newly minted Democrat said Republicans’ stances on LGBTQ issues, particularly transgender rights, pushed her over the edge.

With 'flair for the dramatic,' Adam Rippon is ready for Olympic spotlight

Image: 2018 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships - Day 4
Adam Rippon at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on January 6, 2018 in San Jose, California.Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

The 28-year-old, who’s become something of a gay pop culture phenom thanks to his acerbic wit and a public clash with Vice President Mike Pence, wasn’t exaggerating. He has, indeed, been waiting a long time for this.

Colorado baker back in court over second LGBTQ bias allegation

Image: Baker Jack Phillips decorates a cake in his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood
Baker Jack Phillips decorates a cake in his Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado on Sept. 21, 2017.Rick Wilking / Reuters file

Attorneys for a Colorado baker who refused to make a wedding cake for a gay couple on religious grounds — a stand partially upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court — argued in federal court that the state is punishing him again over his refusal to bake a cake celebrating a gender transition.