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21 most popular LGBTQ news stories of 2021

This year’s most clicked on queer stories include a transgender Miss USA contestant, gay emperors, a nonbinary Olympian, lesbian bars and more.
Kataluna Enriquez, Miss USA's first transgender pageant winner,  Gold medalist Quinn of Team Canada and King Edward II.
Kataluna Enriquez, Miss USA's first transgender pageant winner, Gold medalist Quinn of Team Canada and King Edward II.Bryan Steffy, Naomi Baker, Universal History Archive / Getty Images

From an-depth look at transgender men's experiences in prison to Olympic diver Tom Daley's viral knitting, here are 21 of our most clicked on LGBTQ news stories of the year.

Meet the queer teacher behind Bernie Sanders’ viral mittens

Jen Ellis, creator of the famous Sen. Bernie Sanders mittens, lives in Vermont with her 5-year-old daughter and her wife, Liz, and teaches second grade.Courtesy Jen Ellis

Vermont educator Jen Ellis uses her mittens to raise money for LGBTQ youth and show people the power of generosity. (Jan. 30)

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Former WWE star Gabbi Tuft comes out as transgender 

Gabbi Tuft.Courtesy of Gabbi Tuft

Tuft said she wants to “create empathy” by talking openly about her transition on social media and in a new podcast. (Feb. 5)

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Americans identifying as LGBTQ more than ever, poll finds 

Pride flag fon July 10, 2021, in San Diego, Calif.Daniel Knighton / Getty Images file

Nearly 16 percent of Generation Z, those 18 to 23 in 2020, consider themselves something other than heterosexual, according to a Gallup poll. (Feb. 24)

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Bisexual women with straight male partners least likely to be out

Evgeniy Fedorcov / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Bisexual women’s health and well-being may be affected by the gender and sexual orientation of their partner, according to a study published in the Journal of Bisexuality. (March 6)

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America's remaining lesbian bars are barely hanging on 

Cubbyhole in the West Village, in New York City. Jamie McCarthy / Getty Images

“They provide a safe space, a place for camaraderie, a place for community and, of course, a place to get laid,” actor Lea DeLaria said of queer women’s bars. (April 4)

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Parents of trans kids plan to flee their states as GOP bills loom

A person holds up a flag during a rally in New York City on Oct. 24, 2018. Brendan McDermid / Reuters file

Texas mom Amber Briggle said moving would be hard for her family, but “my son always comes first.” (April 19)

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Cherry Grove: How a beach town became a gay ‘safe haven’

Maggie McCorkle and Audrey Hartmann in Cherry Grove, Calif., 1963.Cherry Grove Archives Collection

An exhibit at the New-York Historical Society features rarely seen photos of the LGBTQ community enjoying the freedom offered by Fire Island’s Cherry Grove, one of America’s first gay beach towns. (May 14)

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Nevada pageant winner becomes 1st transMiss USA contestant 

Kataluna Enriquez at the TransNation Festival in Los Angeles, Oct. 21, 2017.Unique Nicole / Getty Images file

“My win is our win. We just made history. Happy Pride,” Miss Nevada USA Kataluna Enriquez said. (June 19)

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The heartbreaking true story behind ‘Joe Bell’ 

Mark Wahlberg with Reid Miller in “Joe Bell.”Quantrell D. Colbert / Roadside Attractions

The movie, starring Mark Wahlberg, tells the complicated story of a father who wanted to memorialize his gay son while also spreading a message of acceptance. (July 22)

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Canada’s Quinn is first transgender Olympic medalist 

Quinn poses with their gold medal on Aug. 6, 2021, in Yokohama, Japan. Naomi Baker / Getty Images

Following Canada’s upset win over the U.S. women’s soccer team, the nonbinary sports star paved a path to Olympic history. (Aug. 2)

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Tom Daley’s dive won gold. His knitting won the internet.

Tom Daley of Britain knits in the stands on August 2, 2021 in Tokyo. Antonio Bronic / Reuters

British diver Tom Daley has fueled a huge resurgence in knitting, with his latest creations going to a good cause. (Aug. 5)

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Pete and Chasten Buttigieg welcome two children into their family

Chasten and Pete Buttigieg with their newborns on Sept. 4, 2021.Pete Buttigieg / via Twitter

“We are delighted to welcome Penelope Rose and Joseph August Buttigieg to our family,” the Transportation Secretary announced on Twitter. (Sept. 4)

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Remembering the ‘Saint of 9/11’ and the ‘Hero of Flight 93’

Father Mychal Judge, Mark Bingham.Getty Images/Courtesy Amanda MarK

Mark Bingham, a rugby player, reportedly confronted hijackers on United Flight 93, and the Rev. Mychal Judge died tending to victims at the World Trade Center. (Sept. 11)

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Police departments across U.S. are mandating LGBTQ training

Chelsea Stahl / NBC News; Getty Images

Some departments are doing so voluntarily, while others are being required to do so following lawsuits. (Sept. 25)

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James Bond walks into a gay bar. But should he?

Daniel Craig attends "No Time To Die" premiere on Sept. 28, 2021 in London.Max Mumby / Indigo/Getty Images

Actor Daniel Craig, best known for playing James Bond, says he used to frequent gay bars. Reactions in the LGBTQ community were mixed. (Oct. 15)

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13 LGBTQ royals you didn’t learn about in history class

King Edward II of England, Queen Christina of Sweden and King James I.NBC News / Getty Images

From the Emperor Ai of China’s Han Dynasty to Sweden’s Queen Christina, here are notable leaders who crossed sexual and gender boundaries. (Oct. 18)

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Dr. Rachel Levine becomes nation’s first trans four-star officer

Rachel Levine appears during her confirmation hearing on Feb. 25, 2021. Caroline Brehman / Pool via Reuters

Levine was appointed to lead the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, making her the nation’s first openly transgender four-star officer. (Oct. 19)

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‘Worst List’ names 180 'unsafe' colleges for LGBTQ students

The entrance of Brigham Young University, in Provo, Utah, on March 1, 2012.George Frey / Getty Images file

The founder of the LGBTQ nonprofit Campus Pride said the list is the longest it’s ever been. (Oct. 25)

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Missouri high school crowns its first male homecoming queen

Zachary Willmore won the homecoming queen title at Rock Bridge High School. @zachwillmore via TikTok

High school senior and TikTok sensation Zachary Willmore said being crowned homecoming queen showed people “really do care” about him. (Nov. 13)

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Strip searches, trauma, isolation: Trans men on life behind bars

Tahj Graham at home in Mansfield, Texas, on Nov. 28, 2021.Allison V. Smith for NBC News

Transgender men say they are often harassed, denied medically necessary care and “forced to be someone” they’re not while incarcerated. (Dec. 3)

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Kavanaugh cites landmark gay rights cases in abortion argument

Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill on Sept. 27, 2018.Tom Williams / Pool via Getty Images file

Lawyers who argued for LGBTQ rights in those landmark cases — Obergefell v. Hodges and Lawrence v. Texas — were conflicted on the validity of Justice Kavanaugh’s argument about abortion restrictions. (Dec. 3)

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