2017: A Year of LGBT Firsts

2017, apart from being terrible in many regards (the endless Trump troubles, the Brexit horror-show, sky rocketing rents) contain a few glimmers of LGBT goodness.

Leo Varadkar first taoiseach to attend pride

It was the year that included some heartening LGBT+ firsts, which we’ve listed below. Did we miss any? Let us know!

First Trans-Character in Fair City

Jack Murphy as the first trans character in Fair City

Way back in September, Jack Murphy (pictured above) made history by when he became the first trans person to appear in long-running Irish soap opera, Fair City.

At the time Murphy said he wanted to be visible for other trans people to show them that a bright future is possible. “I would love to be the person some young trans kid looks up to so I can say there is light at the end of the tunnel,” he said.

Twitter users reacted positively to with Murphy’s character appearing in Fair City, congratulating him as an “inspiration” to the trans community after his debut.


First Gay Taoiseach

Having come out publicly to support marriage equality in Ireland in 2015, months before Ireland’s historic same-sex marriage referendum, Leo Varadkar became Taoiseach in June of this year. In doing so, he became the first openly gay leader of Ireland, and plenty of international coverage followed.

As with most international news, however, Donald Trump managed to hijack the story, by trying to ‘flirt’ with an RTÉ reporter while congratulating Varadkar on his appointment.


An Taoiseach even made it to the cover of Time Europe! But all the media coverage wasn’t exactly laudatory. Here’s what we said at the time:

Despite the positive international attention that Varadkar’s election brought to Ireland, those within our country have focussed more upon the Taoiseach as a politician and not as a gay man.

Varadkar’s election as Ireland’s leader has proved to be a bone of contention within the LGBT+ community, which is in part due to the nature of his political ideologies which would appear more closely aligned with a conservative right than liberal left.

In June 2017, Leo also became the first Taoiseach to attend Dublin Pride.


First Ever LGBT Youth Strategy Kicks Off

In April, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone launched a questionnaire for young Irish LGBT people to fill in, to inform the world’s first ever government-led LGBT youth strategy.

Over 4,000 young people across Ireland contributed in to the questionnaire and were involved in consultations both online and off, the results of which were used to produce a Youth Consultation Report, which was launched on December 9.

The most prevalent responses from participants were the need for better training for professionals, inclusive education, the enforcement of anti-bullying policies, gender-neutral toilets and changing rooms, the inclusion of non-binary people in the Gender Recognition Act, improved mental-health services and better sex educations that includes LGBTI+ people and relationships.


First Same-sex Marriages In Australia

Australia’s first gay weddings took place on Saturday, December 16, ushering in a new era after the country’s marriage equality law came into effect the same month.

There was supposed to be a 30-day waiting period after couples registered to marry, with the first weddings expected on January 9. But some sought an exemption due to their circumstances, and the first ceremonies went ahead on Saturday, one in Sydney and one in Melbourne.

Lauren Price, 31, and Amy Laker, 29 (pictured above), solemnised their vows in Sydney, while Melbourne couple Amy and Elise McDonald – who coincidentally have the same surname – tied the knot two hours later.

Good on ya, mates!


First Gay Male Kiss On ‘Star Trek’

After 50 years, it’s first man-on-man kiss in November.

The kiss in question was shared by the show’s gay couple, Lieutenant Paul Stamets, played by Anthony Rapp (who made headlines for a different reason this month when he spoke about being allegedly assaulted by Kevin Spacey as a 14 year-old) and Dr Hugh Culber, played by Wilson Cruz.

After the episode aired, Cruz took to Facebook to challenge those critical of the kiss.

“I’m not here for your comfort,” wrote Cruz, (whom ’90s kids will remember from My So Called Life) in an impassioned Facebook post. “That’s not why we are here. We’re here to grow.”


First Out Trans Person To Be Elected In The US

In the US State of Virginia, Democrat Danica Roem became the first elected openly transgender candidate to serve in the Virginia House of Delegates. She bested Republican Bob Marshall, who advocated for a bill this year that would require individuals to use bathrooms that matched the sex on their birth certificate. Marshall had won 14 consecutive general elections over the past 28 years.

Roem is the first openly transgender person elected to a state legislature in the US, but Althea Garrison, who formerly served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, was the first openly transgender person to serve in a state legislature. However, Garrison did not campaign as an openly transgender person during her 1992 race.

Go, Danica!

© 2017 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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