17 Pop Culture Moments That Celebrated Queer Women In 2017

We found love in a hopeless year.

This year has been terrible in so many ways, but there have been some bright spots, some of which were in celebration of queer women. So we are applauding some of the moments that helped to elevate an otherwise depressing 2017.

  1. Lena Waithe wins an Emmy.

    Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

    Writer-actor Lena Waithe is our little secret no more: Her Season 2 episode of Master of None, “Thanksgiving,” was a portrait of a young, black lesbian coming out to her family over and over again. Written with heart and humor as it touched on difficult and devastating truths, it was one of television’s finest offerings in 2017, and earned Waithe the (well-deserved) honor of being first black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing.

  2. Kristen Stewart confirms her queerness.

    Photo by: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

    The Twilight star’s sexuality has been highly speculated about but rarely touched upon by Stewart herself— until February, when KStew hosted SNL. She used her monologue to take on Trump (who’s not a fan) and let him know, “I’m, like, so gay dude.”

    The Internet exploded and lesbians everywhere collected on their bets.

  3. Halsey and Lauren Jauregui sing to each other on “Strangers”

    Photo by Jason Koerner/Getty Images for iHeartMedia

    When Halsey decided to turn her song “Strangers” into a duet about a torrid on-and-off again relationship, she wanted another queer woman on the track: Bringing in Fifth Harmony’s Lauren Jauregui meant there were two out bi pop stars serenading one another. The two actually performed the song on Good Morning America.

    Cheers to a love song between two women that wasn’t fighting over a guy. Music to our ears.

  4. Abby Wambach and Glennon Doyle go public.

    Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

    Christian mommy blogger and New York Times best-selling author Glennon Doyle made headlines when she announced she was divorcing her husband because she had fallen for soccer star Abby Wambach. The two married in May and now tour the country giving motivational lectures.

    Sometimes Doyle’s kids even come along for the ride and make it a true family affair.

  5. Creampuffs get their Carmilla movie.


    Carmilla is a web series about a vampire queen and her lover set on a queer-friendly college campus. It proved so popular that, in 2017, it spawned a feature film fans (known as Creampuffs) couldn’t wait to take a bite out of.

    Out actress Natasha Negovanlis’ cheeky magnetism had Carmilla lovers creaming themselves.

  6. Battle of the Sexes gives Billie Jean King her due.

    Fox Searchlight

    More than 40 years after defeating sexist tennis pro Bobby Riggs, Billie Jean King’s big win got told on the big screen: Emma Stone donned King’s signature glasses and ’70s shag for an inspired performance that included the athletes’s coming to understand her sexuality.

    A stellar supporting cast (Sarah Silverman, Andrea_Riseborough, Elisabeth Shue, Alan Cumming) help Stone and co-star Steve Carell to make Battle of the Sexes the best sports movie of the year.

  7. Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli get hitched.

    Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

    Orange is the New Black has provided the LGBT community with some much-needed visibility. It also birthed the power couple that is Samira Wiley and Lauren Morelli—the two met when Wiley was a cast member and Morelli was a show writer (and married to a man). This year, they wed in a gorgeous ceremony featured in Martha Stewart Weddings and other mags.

    America truly seemed excited about two women so happy in love, celebrating with family and friends.

  8. Sally Ride becomes a Lego figure.


    Astrophysicist Sally Ride wasn’t just the first American woman in space—she’s the first out lesbian immortalized as a Lego character. A new set celebrating the women of NASA sees her accompanied by a mini space-shuttle.

    The set also includes tiny versions of NASA astronomer Nancy Grace Roman, computer scientist Margaret Hamilton, and astronaut Mae Jemison, the first black woman in space.

  9. Hayley Kiyoko gives us “Feelings.”

    Hayley Kiyoko

    The ex-Disney star continues to create music videos that feature her with a female love interest: “Feelings” is one of her best to date, as she dances around her crush in some “Thriller”-esque choreography.

    The video premiered on the recently revived TRL, with a screaming audience turning out to cheer on the lesbian pop star.

  10. Tegan and Sara launch a foundation for queer women.

    Tegan and Sara Foundation

    After two decades of being uplifted by queer female fans, Tegan and Sara wanted to give back: The Tegan and Sara Foundation fights for health, economic, justice and representation for gay/bi girls and women. (They even contributed proceeds from their tour and covers album to the cause.)

    Groups reaping the benefits of their generosity include The Audre Lorde Project, Equality North Carolina, the Orlando LGBTQ Center, and Egale Canada.

  11. Showtime announces The L Word is returning.


    When The L Word went off air in 2009, lesbian viewers were sure there’d be copycat dramas soon to follow. Close to a decade later and we’re still waiting. In July, Ilene Chaken announced the show was returning with stars Jennifer Beals, Kate Moennig, and Leisha Hailey.

    Playwright Marja-Lewis Ryan, announced as the showrunner, says she’s thrilled “to usher in the next generation of diverse queer people.” Us too!

  12. Whitney: Can I Be Me acknowledges the singer’s sexuality.

    Whitney: Can I Be Me?

    Fascinating but difficult to watch, Nick Broomfield’s doc saw the people closest to Houston sharing memories of the iconic vocalist and acknowledging her relationship with former assistant Robyn Crawford.

    It also posits that the homophobia she suffered from family and management fueled her tragic trajectory.

  13. Sara Ramirez suits up for Madam Secretary.


    After leaving Grey’s Anatomy, Sara Ramirez remained a highly visible voice for bisexuality. Now she’s made room for both acting and advocacy in her new role on Madam Secretary: Her character, Kat, is a masculine-of-center former chief of staff to the U.N. ambassador whop rocks tailored suits, suspenders and ties to go with her cropped black cut.

    We still don’t know Kat’s sexual orientation, but we do know that Ramirez is one of few regular queer POC on television.

  14. Jay-Z’s mom comes out

    Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

    One of the biggest revelations to come out of 4:44 was a few lines off “Smile” about his mom, Gloria Carter. “Mama had four kids, but she’s a lesbian/ Had to pretend so long that she’s a thespian/ Had to hide in the closet, so she medicate / Society shame and the pain was too much to take.” (Yeezy also raps about crying tears of joy when she found love.)

    Gloria joins in at the end, too, reciting a poem: “Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be/ No harm for them, no harm for me/ But life is short, and it’s time to be free/ Love who you love, because life isn’t guaranteed.”

    This refreshingly inclusive hip-hop track has us celebrating that Beyonce’s mother-in-law is family.

  15. Kate McKinnon and Gal Gadot kiss.


    SNL’s MVP also happens to be its only out lesbian, too. So when Wonder Woman star Gadot hosted the show in October, we could only hope for the two to share a scene.

    What we didn’t expect was for Kate McKinnon and Gal Gadot to actually lock lips—that was a huge, huge bonus.

  16. Thelma is an Oscar contender


    Norway is submitting Thelma as its selection for the Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards. This Scandinavian horror flick about a young queer woman with supernatural powers has been well received by critics and moviegoers alike, and doesn’t shy away from its protagonist’s sexuality.

  17. A beauty queen came out on stage.

    A contestant surprised judges at a Filipino beauty pageant in October when she revealed she was dating a woman. During her interview segment, 17-year-old Maria Izobel Taguiam was asked if she had a boyfriend. “Yes, but not a boyfriend but a girlfriend,” she replied. “I believe love does not see gender and if you love that someone, go for it.”

    She didn’t snatch the crown, but Taguiam is a winner in our book.

Trish Bendix is a Los Angeles-based writer.