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Here are 22 of the top LGBTQ news stories of 2022

From attacks on drag shows and a nightclub to viral moments of queer joy, this year was truly a mixed bag of LGBTQ news.
Image: American swimmer Lia Thomas; mourners at a makeshift memorial after the shooting at Club Q in Colorado; and "A League of Their Own" on Amazon Prime.
American swimmer Lia Thomas; mourners at a makeshift memorial after the shooting at Club Q in Colorado; and "A League of Their Own" on Amazon Prime.NBC News; Getty Images; Amazon Prime

This year has been a rollercoaster for many LGBTQ people. Though the percentage of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender adults has doubled over the past decade, according to Gallup, lawmakers in states across the country have proposed legislation that seeks to restrict LGBTQ rights. 

At the same time, queer people have celebrated heartwarming engagements, increasing representation in TV and films and the first federal protections for marriage equality. Here are 22 of our top LGBTQ news stories of the year.

Atlanta Falcons cheerleader gets surprise wedding proposal at final game

Dominic Williams proposes to Atlanta Falcons cheerleader Benjamin Ajani.
Dominic Williams proposes to Atlanta Falcons cheerleader Benjamin Ajani.Karl L. Moore / Atlanta Falcons

The end of the Atlanta Falcons' 2021-2022 football season marked the beginning of a new chapter in the love story of team cheerleader Benjamin Ajani and his boyfriend, Dominic Williams, who surprised Ajani with a marriage proposal at the final game Jan. 9. “I’ve always had a dream that it would happen this way,” Ajani told NBC News at the time.

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At least 35 LGBTQ athletes compete at Beijing Olympics, a Winter Games record

Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc
Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc skate during the championship pairs short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 6.John David Mercer / Reuters file

At least 35 openly LGBTQ athletes competed in the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, which ran from Feb. 4 - Feb. 20, more than double the amount of queer athletes in the 2018 Winter Games, according to the LGBTQ sports website Outsports.

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Scientists have possibly cured HIV in a woman for the first time

From left, Dr. Koen van Besien, Dr Jingmei Hsu, and Dr Marshall J. Glesby of Weill Cornell Medicine.
From left, Dr. Koen van Besien, Dr Jingmei Hsu, and Dr Marshall J. Glesby of Weill Cornell Medicine.Benjamin Ryan

An American research team used a cutting-edge stem cell transplant method to possibly cure HIV in a woman for the first time, they announced at the virtually-held annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections on Feb. 15. They expect that several dozen people annually could receive the treatment as they expand the pool over the next few years.

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Percentage of LGBTQ adults in U.S. has doubled over past decade, Gallup finds

Image: People celebrate in Washington Square Park during New York City's Pride Parade on June 27, 2021.
People celebrate in Washington Square Park during New York City's Pride Parade on June 27, 2021.Mathias Wasik / dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images

The percentage of LGBTQ adults in the U.S. has doubled over the last decade, from 3.5% in 2012 to 7.1%, in part due to younger generations increasingly identifying as LGBTQ, according to a Gallup poll released Feb. 17.

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Texas governor calls on citizens to report parents of transgender kids for abuse

Image: Greg Abbott
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott speaks during a press conference in the Permian Basin, in Midland, on Feb. 1.Eli Hartman / Odessa American via AP file

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called on “licensed professionals” and “members of the general public” to report the parents of transgender minors to state authorities if it appears the minors are receiving gender-affirming medical care in a directive issued Feb. 23. 

The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, the state’s child welfare agency, began investigating families shortly thereafter. Some of the investigations have since been blocked by federal courts, but the threat of investigation has led many families with transgender children to flee the state.

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Lia Thomas becomes 1st transgender woman to win NCAA championship

Image: Lia Thomas
Lia Thomas at Sheerr Pool on Feb. 4, in Philadelphia.Donald Miralle / Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Former University of Pennsylvania senior Lia Thomas made international headlines when she began competing on the women’s swim team in the fall of 2021. Despite division among her teammates, she continued to compete and went on to become the first transgender woman to win an NCAA championship when she won the 500-yard freestyle March 17.

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Dog abandoned for being 'gay' is adopted by same-sex couple

John Winn, Fezco and Steve Nichols
John Winn, Fezco and Steve Nichols.Steve Nichols

In March, a story about a dog named Fezco who was abandoned at a shelter in North Carolina for being “gay” went viral. Steve Nichols and his husband, John Winn, who live outside of Charlotte, adopted him later that month after they saw the report.

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signs bill limiting LGBTQ classroom instruction

Image: Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holds the signed Parental Rights in Education bill at Classical Preparatory school in Spring Hill, Fla., on March 28.Douglas R. Clifford / Tampa Bay Times via AP

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the controversial Parental Rights in Education law — or what critics have dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — on March 28. The measure prohibits “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” in kindergarten through grade 3 “or in a manner that is not age appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.” 

Debate over the bill led to a wave of student organizing and protests. After it passed, some LGBTQ teachers said they felt they could no longer teach in the state.

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Mattea Roach becomes the latest LGBTQ 'Jeopardy!' phenom

Image: Mattea Roach
Mattea Roach on "Jeopardy!".Tyler Golden / Sony Pictures Television

Mattea Roach became the highest-winning Canadian contestant in “Jeopardy!” history April 22. She is the latest LGBTQ sensation on the show, following Amy Schneider, who became the show’s top female earner last year.

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'It’s already having an impact': LGBTQ people fear abortion rights reversal

Image:  A supporter of gay marriage waves a flag in front of the Supreme Court Building June 25, 2015.
A supporter of gay marriage waves a flag in front of the Supreme Court on June 25, 2015.Mark Wilson / Getty Images file

In May, LGBTQ people anticipated that the reversal of Roe v. Wade would disproportionately impact them due to barriers that they already face to health care and the impact that the decision could have on other precedents, such as Obergefell v. Hodges, which requires states to recognize same-sex marriages. 

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A 25-year-old got in a taxi outside an NYC gay bar. He was dead an hour later.

Image: Julio Ramirez.
Julio Ramirez.Family photo

Social worker Julio Ramirez died after leaving a popular Manhattan gay bar in April and getting into a cab with three unidentified men. His bank accounts were drained days later, his brother told NBC News in May, and the family was left with more questions than answers weeks after his death.

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Anti-LGBTQ threats, fueled by the internet's far right 'machine,' shut down trans rights and drag events

Police in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho detain people pulled from a U-Haul truck
Police in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, detain people pulled from a U-Haul truck near the city's Pride celebration June 11.Georji Brown via AP

Throughout June, which is LGBTQ Pride month, activists and allies were forced to cancel events or enact additional security measures after drag performances and readings at local libraries were targeted by white nationalist groups.

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Lesions, headaches, debilitating pain: Gay men with mpox share their stories

Image: Gerald Febles shows monkepox lesions on his hands on July 3, 2022 in New York.
Gerald Febles shows mpox lesions on his hands July 3, in New York.Benjamin Ryan / NBC News

Eighteen gay men who contracted mpox, previously known as monkeypox, told NBC News about their experiences amid the unprecedented outbreak over the summer. Research published in August suggested that the virus’s spread was largely being driven by sex between men.

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GOP lawmaker attended gay son’s wedding 3 days after voting against same-sex marriage

House Republican Conference at Capitol Hill Club
Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on Dec. 1, 2021.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Rep. Glenn Thompson, R-Pa., attended his gay son’s wedding July 22 — three days before voting against the Respect for Marriage Act, a bill that would codify federal protections for same-sex marriage. The measure was eventually signed into law.

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'A League of Their Own' remake hits a home run with queer viewers

A League Of Their Own
From left, Melanie Field, Abbi Jacobson and D'Arcy Carden in "A League of Their Own."Nicola Goode / Prime Video

Amazon’s “A League of Their Own” series, which debuted Aug. 12 and was inspired by the 1992 cult classic by director Penny Marshall, brought much-needed representation to the screen for lesbians and other queer women, who celebrated how “gay, gay, gay” it was.

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One of the most powerful men in NYC's gay nightlife scene faces over a decade of sexual misconduct allegations 

Photo illustration of Michael Cohen, the New York City skyline, and scenes of people dancing in a club.
NBC News / Getty Images / via Instagram

Michael J. Cohen, one of the most prominent figures in New York’s gay nightlife scene, was accused of sexual misconduct by nine people who spoke to NBC News about their experiences over the last decade. A spokesperson for Cohen denied the allegations in the article published Aug. 25.

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Drag performer, 25, dies midperformance at Philadelphia bar

Valencia Prime.
Valencia Prime.Jonathan Hernandez

Beloved Philadelphia drag performer Valencia Prime died after a performance at a popular local gay bar Sept. 12. The venue, Tabu Lounge and Sports Bar, described her as “a very bright and rising star in the performance community and a person who was always full of love and positivity.”

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'Saturday Night Live' announces its first nonbinary cast member

Image: Molly Kearney, Saturday Night Live - Season 48
Molly Kearney.Mary Ellen Matthews / NBC

Actor and comedian Molly Kearney, who appeared in Amazon’s “A League of Their Own,” became the first nonbinary cast member on “Saturday Night Live” after joining its 48th season, NBC announced Sept. 15.

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Leslie Jordan, 'Will & Grace' actor, dies at 67

Leslie Jordan
Leslie Jordan in Los Angeles in April 2021.Damian Dovarganes / AP file

Leslie Jordan, who won an Emmy for his performance as Beverley Leslie on “Will & Grace,” died Oct. 24, leaving many in the LGBTQ community reeling from the loss of a trailblazer who “leaned into his flamboyance.”

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Lesbians score big political gains in midterm elections' 'rainbow wave'

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey at the State Democratic Party convention in Worcester on June 4, 2022.
Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate Maura Healey at the state Democratic Party convention in Worcester on June 4.Craig F. Walker / Boston Globe via Getty Images file

Democrats Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Tina Kotek of Oregon became the nation’s first lesbian governors when they won their midterm election races Nov. 8. They were part of what LGBTQ advocates called yet another “rainbow wave.

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5 killed after gunman opens fire at an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado

Mourners gather at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting at Club Q
Mourners gather at a memorial for the victims of a mass shooting at Club Q in Colorado Spring, Colo. on Nov. 25, 2022.Parker Seibold / The Gazette via AP file

A gunman entered Club Q, a Colorado Springs, Colorado, LGBTQ club, just before midnight Nov. 19 and opened fire, killing five people and injuring 17 others. The community mourned the five victims and the loss of one of their only queer safe spaces in a relatively conservative town.

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Biden signs same-sex marriage bill at White House ceremony

President Joe Biden signs the Respect for Marriage Act on the South Law of the White House in on Dec. 13, 2022.
President Joe Biden signs the Respect for Marriage Act on the South Lawn of the White House on Dec. 13.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images

President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act, a bipartisan bill that codifies protections for same-sex and interracial marriages, on Dec. 13.

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