50 queer and trans pop culture moments that defined 2022

From the negroni sbagliato to “Funny Girl” drama, to problematic TikTok emu farmer lesbians, these are the moments we’ll all remember

Year-end pop culture roundups are a funny thing. Ask me what happened this year and my internet-conditioned little lizard brain will rattle off like 30 specific things trending on Twitter in the past week (like “These gays are trying to murder me!” White Lotus memes), but miss out on some of the biggest things of the year. 

But big things did happen in the queer pop culture space in 2022, from the conclusion of Amy Schneider’s incredible Jeopardy! run to the infamous “negroni … sbagliato … with Prosecco in it” to big moments in TV, film, music, TikTok and more. 

In no particular order, allow me to present 50 queer pop culture moments that defined 2022: 

1. Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift and Tegan and Sara all vied for the gays’ attention by releasing albums on the same day.

2. The JoJo Siwa vs. Candace Cameron Bure feud.

Credit: Abbie Parr/AP Photo via CP Images

3. Also, JoJo’s various dating adventures and girlfriends over the year (RIP JoJo and Avery Cyrus, we barely knew you). 

4. Amy Schneider dominated Jeopardy! and truly became a household name.

5. … and then Mattea Roach came around and gave her a run for her money.

6. Everything Everywhere All at Once was everywhere all at once, with audiences praising its realistic depiction of queerness in immigrant families. 

7. Sam Smith and Kim Petras produced the inescapable earworm “Unholy” that charted at #1 and invaded our TikTok feeds.

8. Rebel Wilson came out as gay AND got engaged AND had a baby.

9. Beanie Feldstein was Funny Girl and then lost it in what may be a Leah Michele coup.

10. And all of the attention on Lea Michele was also a part of a wave of new interest in Glee, including a podcast, docuseries and appearances from Glee stars Amber Riley, Jenna Ushkowitz and Kevin McHale on The Masked Singer and RuPaul’s Secret Celebrity Drag Race.

11. Beyoncé destroyed us all with Renaissance, and dedicated the album to her late gay uncle.

12. “Negroni … spagliato … with Prosecco in it.” 

 

Credit: Abbie Parr/AP Photo via CP Images

13. A Selling Sunset girlie and a non-binary Australian rapper start dating … and stayed dating? 

14. Speaking of, a lot of TikTok lesbians made a lot of drama …

15.  … including a problematic one with a famous emu.

16. Luisa from Encanto became the world’s new favourite strong butch icon. 

17. MUNA brought all of your favourite queer millennials on stage with them while touring, and gave us a perfect album of Sapphic bangers.

18. Velma’s a lesbian!!!

19. And Laverne Cox is the first trans Barbie!!

20. Queer and non-binary folks took over reality TV, with standouts on The Great Canadian Baking Show, The Big Brunch, Blown Away and Making the Cut

21. And speaking of Barbie, the first looks from Greta Gerwig’s live-action film truly shocked the internet (and sent a legion of gays out to buy neon roller skates).

22. Bros promised to change rom-coms forever … and then sort of flopped.

23. RuPaul’s Drag Race had a heartwarming trans coming out, and then another and then another until we got five trans gals in one season!

24. Degrassi came back … and then didn’t. 

25. The Bachelor’s Becca Tilley came out and is dating singer Hayley Kiyoko!

26. Jennifer Coolidge in The White Lotus gave us the best new meme just as the year was winding down: “These gays are trying to murder me.” 

Credit: HBO

27. Ryan Murphy tried to make gay serial killers happen with Dahmer and American Horror Story, but the internet is starting to get tired of his schtick

28. The handwashing mommy from Serbia at Eurovision weirdly turned me (and assumedly you) on.

29. Brittney Griner came home.

30. A Strange Loop got so much Tonys love

31. Michaela Jaé Rodriguez made Golden Globes history by winning Best Supporting Actress for her work on Pose.

32. Heartstopper won over all of our hearts.

33. … and breakout star Yasmin Finney landed a plum gig on the upcoming Doctor Who series alongside Ncuti Gatwa as the first gay Doctor.

34. Everyone’s favourite gay rat-aardvark wedding show (Arthur) ended, and Francine showed up with a very gay Raven-Symoné haircut.

35. Fire Island was a delightful summer surprise full of queer friendship. 

36. Gabrielle Union and Dwayne Wade continued to show a positive example of parenting a trans kid as they stood up against anti-trans legislation in the U.S. and spoke out about their daughter Zaya. 

37. Euphoria did Euphoria things, including finally giving us Lexi’s play.

38. Elliot Page and Mae Martin walked a red carpet together and everyone lost their minds—the Canadian transmasc energy was too strong!!

39. Ariana DeBose rightfully owned awards season for her portrayal of Anita in West Side Story.

40. Shangela became the first drag queen to compete on Dancing with The Stars.

41. Openly queer athletes won eight Olympic medals at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, among them was arguably the gayest of them all: gold for Canada’s women’s hockey team, which is absolutely chock full of lesbians. 

42. After debuting in late 2021, Yellowjackets really popped off and developed a legion of loyal fans hungry for Season 2 (buzz buzz!).

43. YouTuber Trisha Paytas had a baby that may or may not be the reincarnation of Queen Elizabeth II.

44. Abbi Jacobson’s new A League of Their Own series inspired a new generation of queers thinking, “Sure, I could play baseball!” 

45. Britney Spears was freed of her conservatorship—and released a banger in “Hold Me Closer” alongside Elton John.

46. Harvey Guillén broke out—the queer Latino What We Do in the Shadows star had a banner year, from penning an emotional essay about coming out in Esquire to starring in a surprisingly critically acclaimed Puss in Boots sequel.

47. We lost some legends, including Leslie Jordan, Angela Lansbury, Anne Heche and Olivia Newton-John.

48. Justin Trudeau became the first world leader to appear on Drag Race.

49. It’s a late one, but this week, noted bisexuals Aubrey Plaza and Drew Barrymore got together and had what may be the flirtiest, horniest exchange about mothering I’ve ever heard. 

50. Wordle took over the world—and yes, we even got a queer version.

Senior editor Mel Woods is an English-speaking Vancouver-based writer and audio producer and a former associate editor with HuffPost Canada. A proud prairie queer and ranch dressing expert, their work has also appeared in Vice, Slate, the Tyee, the CBC, the Globe and Mail and the Walrus.

Keep Reading

Side by side images of author Lauren Cook and his book Sex Goblin. The book is on a yellow background.

Lauren Cook on naive narrators, ‘just chilling’ and loving love

The author’s new book, “Sex Goblin,” is a collection of short prose about violence, sexuality and trying to process life 

Can anyone dethrone Chappell Roan for queer song of the summer?

Is “Good Luck, Babe!” destined to be this year’s Pride anthem?

Zoe Whittall on writing sex scenes, capturing trauma and what people get wrong about queer femmes

In “Wild Failure,” the poet and novelist challenges queer femme erasure in fiction
The Time Magazine cover with Laverne Cox on it that says "The transgender tipping point: America's next civil rights frontier. By Katy Steinmetz" in black and white, surrounded by clocks under a blue filter.

10 years since the ‘transgender tipping point’

ANALYSIS: Ten years after the iconic ‘TIME’ cover, trans people are subject to even more widespread hatred and legalized bigotry. If we’ve ‘tipped’ in any direction, it’s backward