12 Moments of LGBTQ+ Joy Worth Celebrating This Year"It’s the mundane moments at the beach, the bar, the movies, and the mall where we just get to be and be ourselves.”
It would be nice to live in a world where Pride Month could simply be a celebration of a battle already won—full of parades and glitter and ridiculously talented drag performers lip-syncing to the new Janelle Monáe album. Sadly, it’s no secret that Pride celebrations (and our daily lives, really) are clouded with continued threats to basic LGBTQ+ rights and safety, and the original demands that began at Stonewall in 1969 have still not come to fruition.
In fact, this June, the Human Rights Campaign announced an official “State of Emergency” for LGBTQ+ people across the United States—their very first time making a domestic announcement like this. If you’re behind on the news, the HRC made the call because “there have been over 525 state bills introduced that attack the LGBTQ+ community, and over 220 of those target the transgender community.” Among those bills are attempts to strip the rights of queer and transgender people, spanning anywhere from the right to use a public restroom to the right to even be mentioned in classrooms. It’s all contributing to a terrifying attempt to essentially erase and eradicate LGBTQ+ people from this country.
So, this Pride Month, LGBTQ+ voices are continuing a decades-old battle cry: We are still here, we are still fighting, and we always will be. While the current U.S. political climate causes a great deal of anxiety (it seems like each day comes with a new piece of worrying legislation), it’s important to understand the joy and resilience that has always filled this community. We have to remind each other that there’s still some good in the world and plenty of things that can put a smile on your face.
Plus, fighting for our own equality is draining and hard (understatement of the year, honestly). To continue this work together, we also have to find peace and joy to sustain our mental health. We can learn from the Black voices that have led anti-racist advocacy and activism for decades that joy and progress can go hand in hand. As civil rights activist and writer Audre Lorde put it, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
That said, if you’re part of the LGBTQ+ family and noticing that feeling joy is increasingly hard for you because of political bullies and whatever else might be going on in your world, that’s extremely understandable. For now, try to remember that you do deserve joy and all the freedoms afforded to anyone else. And because hearing about other people’s wins can give us some inspiration, here are 12 LGBTQ+ quotes about the joy and hope that people felt so far this year, plus some messages for LGBTQ+ youth who often face the brunt of these political attacks.
[If you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community and searching for mental health resources, consider checking out this guide to finding accessible care.]
1. I’m living the life I struggled to believe was possible.
"It's been a big year for me. Among other things, I began the year recovering from gender affirmation surgery. When I began my transition 10 years ago, it was hard to believe that it would even be possible to be at peace and at home in my body. I'm thankful not just to science and to medicine but to the generations of community members and organizations critical in opening access to necessary health care.
The start of my post-transition life comes, however, as so many people across our country are being stripped of their right to access the care they need. To those who are currently struggling to find care and acceptance, know that you have a community behind you fighting for you each and every step of the way. We will get through this as we always have: together." —Byron K., 28
2. I feel hopeful for future generations.
“One of the things that brought me the most joy this year was teaching my kid who is 6 years old that I identify as non-binary. They now come home at least once a week to tell me about a new “non-binarian” person (a term I’m obsessed with) they learned about during library time at school or a new friend in another grade who is also non-binary. Among the chaos of the world around me, she brings me a lot of hope for the future of LGBTQIA youth and allies.” —Linda D., 36
3. I celebrated life’s little moments.
“I feel so lucky to live in a time, place, and community where joy is so prevalent in my everyday life. That's not the case for many LGBTQ+ people, especially as more and more legislation is introduced with the intention of keeping us from our rights and our happiness. I try to never take that for granted.
There’s joy in the little things, like when I wake up each morning because my cat is lightly pawing at my face for food. And it's especially joyful to share an eye roll and a laugh with my wife during our breakfast smoothies. And there's joy in the big things, like having appointments with our reproductive endocrinologist so we can start the process of growing our family.
As I collect all these big and little moments of joy, it gives me continued hope that there is a beautiful future out there for all of us. It isn't something only meant for a select few. And to everyone struggling as the world continues to expel so much vitriol, I promise that there is joy for you too. May we all cherish any joy we encounter, big or small. Because, of course, sometimes the only thing that undermines hate is celebrating the love some so desperately wish to squash.” —Tai F., 34
4. I shared a priceless moment with my friends that I’ll never forget.
“Top surgery has brought me endless joy this year, both in giving me a body that I feel safe in and—for the first time—truly hot and free in, but also in celebrating with and leaning into the sweet support of my community. Going to a wedding and getting to stand shirtless and side by side with other friends who had top surgery was such a sweet experience, and I felt so much joy in each of us. I’ll never forget how that felt.” —A. H., 28
5. I cried happy tears when I saw how schools and parents are supporting children.
“I recently attended a Lavender Graduation for LGBTQ+ students [where we celebrate their hard work and contributions to the school] at the university where I work. We did not have events like this when I was in college or graduate school. It was extremely powerful to witness LGBTQ+ students speaking, celebrating, and connecting with each other in this explicitly queer and trans space.
Sometimes it can feel lonely to be a queer person in a culture that systemically tries to erase us. I think I have gotten used to that loneliness and expect my needs and desires to be invisible. While I listened to these students share their gratitude for the special people that helped them to succeed during their academic program, I was reminded of that loneliness and the fear that I would always be misunderstood. Being in that room gave me respite from that loneliness, even if just for 90 minutes.
This is where the tears really started to flow: Several of the students shared gratitude for their parents. The fact that numerous young people had supportive parents, that their parents were unconditional in their love, and that they saw their children as their truest selves, was beautiful. This is what gives me hope. The parents of this next generation of LGBTQ+ kids are breaking norms and showing up for their kids in ways that I didn't think was possible. I am in awe of the queer and trans parents that are raising their kiddos to see a world that was made by us. Thank you to the parents, the aunties, the gunkles, the cousins, the niblings, and the chosen family that have helped to shape a transformative community.” —Emily S., 38
6. I’m healing with my people.
“So far, 2023 has brought a lot of personal pain and joy in pretty equal measure. At almost 35 years young, I have found it's important to hold both in each hand. I'm very introspective, always looking for ways to live better in the world, and I recognize that pain often has incredible gems buried underneath. When I'm patient, gracious, and steadfast, these gems turn out to be lessons. A lot of joy has come this year in these gem-lessons and definitely from the amazing community of people who help me find them and see them for what they are." —Drewsilla T., 34
7. I’m finding sweet new connections.
“I’m a trans guy who found a lot of joy this year in actively trying to find community. I stepped out of my comfort zone and joined a queer Dungeons and Dragons group. I started working out in a specifically transmasc class and began to feel at home in my body. This year has been difficult, but it feels a little easier when we hold each other up in community.” —Parker C., 33
8. Living authentically has a ripple effect.
“I balk at the idea of telling young queer people a message of hope. The 'It Gets Better' and the 'Love is Love' adages that were empty when I was younger feel completely laughable in how meaningless they are today. So first, I just want to tell young queer people that I see them and I feel with them: It is not supposed to be this hard. Society is not supposed to give so much vitriol to young queer people. Everything is wrong with politicians, lobbyists, anti-LGBTQ organizations, school boards, and any individual trying to put in these horrendous, inane roadblocks to try to harm queer youth today. I don't know how long this period of time will last.
But I am with you, and I will use all of the privilege of my age and ability to keep fighting for young queer people. You, whoever you are, are so brilliant. You are funny and kind and smart. You make everyone's life better. You make my life better: It was only through seeing people younger than me on TikTok talk about the nuances of gender identity that I took the time to take stock of my own and finally tune in to the fact that I was non-binary. You did that, just by living authentically as yourself. Your beauty is radiant. It's OK if you don't feel happy now; I know it's hard to, amongst so much. But it is your birthright to have a life full of queer joy—you are owed it.” —Jensen W., 31
9. I’m able to be myself with my people.
“What’s brought me the most joy this year is seeing my queer friends get to forget, even for a little bit, about the politicization of their lives by doing the things they love with people they love. It’s the mundane moments at the beach, the bar, the movies, and the mall where we just get to be and be ourselves. I don’t take for granted that not everyone, as much as they deserve, is able to feel free or safe enough to be and love in public.” —A. F., 32
10. I’m part of a community that is there for each other.
“Something that brings me joy is seeing how many kids and teens are out and proud. I want that for everyone—to be able to live authentically without barriers or external pressure. I think any young LGBTQ+ person should know that there’s a community that has their back, and I hope they can get the resources to connect with people who help them feel comfortable in their own identity. There is so much beauty in being LGBTQ+, and we are so connected to centuries of history. Trans people have been around since ancient history, and we are not going anywhere.” —Kai P., 28
11. I’m remembering how far we’ve come.
“A bit of LGBTQ+ joy I got this year I found somewhere I didn't expect: in our history. Understanding the massive impact that brave members of the community made during their own moments facing adversity has lit a fire in me. If you're seeking advice, I'd say to look to where we've been, to feel how tenuous it is where we are, but also, how strongly, furiously, and unapologetically we must move forward. Our elders fought hard for their joy, and we've seen the benefits, but the fight has never been over. We're here to use the strength of our past to continue that fight. Historical triumphs keep me going. Been there, beat that—learned a ton. Let's keep it up so we can continue to enjoy all we deserve.” —Amy T., 34
12. I’m celebrating all the wins.
“My joy this year has come out of gratitude for the ability to walk with others on their journeys of exploration, transition, and coming out. As a mental health therapist working with teens, I get to witness the growth that happens as my clients widen their queer community. Sometimes that involves connecting with safe humans both online or in person, exploring their own identity, beginning their transition, or even learning what it means to be an ally.
The journey isn’t always smooth, as we all know safe communities sometimes aren’t easily found. It's painful to watch others struggle with the suffering that comes out of unacceptance and hate, but it's also hope-inspiring to witness the powerful story that is overcoming any hate and getting to embrace one's true identity. There is always hope in a brighter, better, and safer tomorrow, and knowing that brings me incredible joy.” —Lauren W., 27
Quotes have been edited and condensed for length and clarity.
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