2018 in review, queer folk found new examples of representation in “20Gayteen”

Pieces of queer art released over the course of 2018 showed the variety of LGBT experiences.

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The year 2018, dubbed “20Gayteen” by some, had a large amount of new music, TV shows and movies showcasing queer experiences. Pop singer Hayley Kiyoko coined the term in a tweet posted on Jan. 1, 2018.

“It’s our year.” Kiyoko tweeted. “It’s our time. To thrive and let our souls feel alive. #20GAYTEEN #expectations2018”

Kiyoko herself was one of a diverse set of queer musicians who released albums in 2018. Her debut album “Expectations” sat alongside Troye Sivan’s “Bloom” and Janelle Monae’s “Dirty Computer” as pop albums that debuted on the Billboard 200. Electronic music producer SOPHIE’s avant-pop debut “Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides” garnered enough praise for her to become one of the two first openly trans women nominated for a Grammy. The other was Teddy Geiger who produced Shawn Mendes’ “In My Blood.” Rap group and self-proclaimed boy band Brockhampton’s “Iridescence” debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200.

"I have to exist in a homophobic space in order to make change and that homophobic space would be the hip hop community,” Brockhampton group leader Kevin Abstract said in an interview with The BBC. "So me just existing and being myself is making change and making things easier for other young queer kids.”

Television also saw a new wave of queer representation. Netflix’s reboot of “Queer Eye” won various Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and FX’s “Pose” featured various trans actors in a story focused on ball culture, a queer dance subculture of the 1980s.

2018 was also the year of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic that chronicled Freddie Mercury and took home 668 million dollars at the box office. Other movies like “Love, Simon,” “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” and “Boy Erased” all focused on queer characters.

While 2018 featured all of these highlights and more, the mass media has a long way to go before it helpfully portrays queer people. Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation reported in their Where We Are On TV Report and Studio Responsibility Index that while television featured a larger number of LGBT characters, as well as trans characters and queer characters of color, there was a decrease in LGBT characters and 0 transgender characters in major studio film releases. The music world saw no song released by a member of the queer community top the Hot 100, nor did any album besides “Iridescence” top the Billboard 200. So while 20Gayteen featured many instances of queer representation, the overall trends were more mixed.

Edited by Janae McKenzie | jmckenzie@themaneater.com

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