As marketable and SEO-friendly as Thanksgiving has become, the sentiment behind its Hallmark-ness remains the same. What's worth being thankful for this year in your life? The world is divided, and more injustices come to light each and every hour of every day, but goodness exists and, when all is said and debated, prevails. (I hope so, at least.)
This year has seen some high highs and even lower lows in the LGBTQIA community. When it comes to highs, we can't forget that Australians voted YES on legalizing same-sex marriages; Germany now recognizes a third gender; and activist groups, like Voices 4 Chechnya, are rising up across the United States, speaking truth to the world's powers and calling for justice.
The galvanization this nearly year-old administration has inspired is a triumph, and it's only getting louder. Silence on all fronts—whether it be voicing a concern or not singing some praise—is detrimental. The more we, the LGBTQIA community, speak up, the more we inspire and create valuable, actionable change. That begins with reflecting on some of the things we're thankful for this year.
I, for one, am thankful for my queerness and the chosen family that has encouraged me to further explore my identity. I understand the place of privilege my thanks comes from and don't take it for granted. It's my hope that we move in a direction where more people can live their truths fully. With great minds living their truths like the following people, I think it's possible.
Here's what some others in the queer community have to say:
"I'm thankful to be in community with artists and activists whose minds and hearts can be changed, who are actively engaged in the betterment of our world, who are awed by beauty even on dark days." — Andrea Gibson, spoken-word poet
"I am continually thankful for the people who check their social media a little less and are out on the frontlines not only giving of money but of their actual time to help with the global refugee crises or work on the ground in areas because of war or environmental conditions that need our attention. I don't think how we govern or politics in any sense should ever be brushed under the rug; politics requires us to be attentive, particularly this year. Lets just not forget those contributing real humanitarian aid no matter who's elected to any office." — Mykki Blanco, musician
"I’m thankful for WOMEN! Women, mostly, don’t commit mass shootings. Women don’t start wars. Unleash the Divine Feminine Rage and take back the Earth. We need you more than ever." — Alaska Thunderfuck, winner of RuPaul's Drag Race: All Stars 2
"In general, 2017 has kind of been a dumpster fire of a year overall, but there are many things to still be thankful for: Andrea Jenkins, the first openly trans black woman, elected to public office and Phillipe Cunningham, the first openly transgender man, elected to public office in the United States. Danica Roem, an openly transgender woman, elected to Virginia's House of Delegates. Chelsea Manning being released from prison. On the music front, I'm thankful for the album Mojo by Sweet Spirit, which makes me believe in myself and believe in the power of rock and roll being alive and well still! And then on a personal front, I have been thankful for long runs along Lake Michigan in Chicago as all year long it has been absolutely beautiful even when it's been cold, gray, and rainy." — Laura Jane Grace, Against Me!
"This Thanksgiving, I'm giving thanks for the silver linings this dark year in U.S. history is creating. 2017 has been a truly difficult and testing time for Americans. Living in the Trump Era has left a lot of people, especially people in the LGBTQIA community—or any minority for that matter!—feeling outraged and dysphoric. But the one thing I'm grateful for is the shift in awareness and accountability that it is creating for us as a culture.
"A lot of politically abhorrent behavior has been swept under the rug for far too long. People in power used to be able to perpetuate unjust systems and live more comfortably and quietly with their willful ignorance. But a combination of things has created the shift in tides—namely, the revolution of social media and the platform it's created to give everyone a voice. When you realize the power that we hold as citizens is on par with powers that be, you start to smell the ember of change burning.
"I'm thankful that 2017, as difficult as it has been, is the year that we're finally seeking to hold people accountable for their actions. Things like institutionalized racism and workplace sexual harassment have had a stronghold on American society forever, but it's taken a petty, tyrannical president with no veil for his racist, sexist behavior to get us to start saying, 'Enough is enough.' I'm thankful for this ideological shift in tides, as I hope it will lead us to a more enlightened future of equal opportunity for all people. Who knows, maybe in the not-so-distant future, we'll start shifting our conversations surrounding Thanksgiving to be about giving thanks to Mother Earth for providing beautiful harvest, as well paying respects to our Native-American ancestors whose land and history were brutally stolen during the same era that 'Thanksgiving' was created. Some people are upset that everything has become so politicized in this era, but I personally am thankful that the era of accountability has finally arrived." — Signe Pierce, artist
"I'm happy to see the advancement of queer and LGBTQIA stories beginning to be told on film and television. I'm thankful those outside the community have shed tolerance for allyship, and I'm delighted to see transgender people of color gain opportunities that in the past we were not given access to. I'm thankful to see transgender women elected to government positions of power and representation." — Peppermint, RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 9 finalist
"I'm thankful for self-expression and it's many byproducts: art, activism, individuality, passion, nerve, and all other things." — Connor Franta, author/designer/activist/YouTuber
"I am thankful for the incredible and inspiring community of friends, family, artists, and fans who have rallied louder and more aggressively than ever this year in the face of discrimination, ignorance, and ugly legislation to speak out and speak up against it." — LPX, musician
"This year has been a whirlwind. I’ve experienced so much change at an alarming rate from the demise of my first real relationship to fleeing from New York to finish my record in my new home of L.A. I can be self-destructive at times when I’m alone or in an uncomfortable environment. I love excess. I overeat, overdrink, overcommit. I worry about taking care of other people so much that I forget to take care of myself at times. This move and these changes could’ve been harrowing and bleak, but thanks to my incredible mother and my small group of close friends, I was able to adjust without falling apart so much. So I’m grateful for those beautiful souls who genuinely care enough to take care of me at those times when I forget to take care of myself." — Parson James, musician
"I think this year, I'm particularly thankful for women in music. The majority of my favorite albums this year were created by women and bands fronted by women—Big Theif, Jay Som, Lomelda, MUNA, Phoebe Bridgers, The Courtneys... It's been a deeply inspiring year!" — Baths, musician
"We're so thankful to have friends, family, and fans who love us for who we are and believe in what we're doing as a band. In a world where so many LGBTQIA people are persecuted, we feel especially lucky to be able to celebrate and represent the queer community through what we do. We're also super-grateful to the people of Australia for voting YES in the same-sex marriage survey. We're one step closer to marriage equality in Australia!" — Tim Nelson, Cub Sport
"I spent most of last year wishing that the toxic shitstorm that was 2016 would be over... only to be confronted by 2017, an even more toxic and shittier shitstorm. Still, despite how awful this year has been—from the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on the queer community, among other marginalized people, to the death of Tom Petty—I’m thankful to finally see women being listened to—and believed!—about sexual harassment and assault; to witness queer people, people of color, women, and others organizing and engaging in activism in such inspiring and historic ways; and to be lucky enough to have a job that gives me the opportunity to tell stories—especially the stories of those whose voices are routinely ignored, silenced, and erased. Here’s hoping 2018 somehow miraculously makes up for 2017 and 2016." — Noah Michelson, editorial director of HuffPost’s Voices and the executive editor of HuffPost’s Queer Voices
"I’m grateful for social media. Yes, it’s a platform for vanity and a gateway drug to sucking at conversation, but it’s also a platform where women and queer people are choosing exactly how they want to represent themselves. We are showing you what we think is sexy; like little queer lighthouses, our Insta-pubes and -nipples, harnesses and freakiness, are shooting rainbows out to the other people like us. We don’t have to wait for larger media channels to validate that we are beautiful. We are in control of our bodies and our imagery, and we are redefining beauty every day. Turns out we’re all fucking gorgeous." — Kat Cunning, Broadway actress/musician
“I'm thankful for Hari Nef.” — Tommy Dorfman, actor
"Finding strength and resilience among the chaos of the last year has been a huge source of gratitude for me. Faced with continual adversity, my community has shown up and provided me with the opportunity to see the hardships so many face through a different lens. I make music to make people dance and to make people move—my community has moved me to become more involved and help those, especially LGBTQIA youth, in less accepting environments than my own." — SUMif, musician
"I am thankful for being in a position within the music industry which enables me to write and sing about my anxieties and struggles of growing up gay. Writing has acted as a therapy for me, and I find myself happier than I’ve ever been in my own skin. But ultimately, I write about these experiences with the hope that people can relate and it can give them the confidence to fight their fears, or even just to bring them comfort in my lyrics, to make them feel that they’re not the only ones who have struggled. I love the LGBTQIA community, and if any of my songs helps at least one person, then all my struggles have been worthwhile." — Calum Scott, musician
"The climate of the world today is terrifying, I've thought a lot about it, and I am so thankful that the LGBTQIA community has continued to stay unified and passionate. I am grateful for every person that is continuing to find their voice. I am beyond honored to be an ally for my brothers and sisters of the world while fighting for one thing, the RIGHT thing.” — Alexx Mack, musician
"I am very thankful to be a working African-American, openly gay singer-songwriter, and feel blessed to be able to be open about the person I love. There was once a time when I would not have had the same opportunities, nor the privilege, to do what I do today. I am humbled and indebted to every black and LGBTQIA person who spoke out and fought tirelessly for my right to be who I am today and to love whom I love. While we still have a long road ahead of us to combat hate, racism, and discrimination in this country, our community is growing braver and stronger every day. I am so happy and grateful that more and more of us are living louder and prouder than ever!" — Rayvon Owen, musician
"I am thankful for all the blessings and opportunities that have presented themselves to me and my career this year. I'm thankful that I've learned to truly start loving the skin I'm in and all that encompasses being me and living my truth. Embracing your truth is truly liberating and exhilarating. #thotprocess2018" — Jiggly Caliente, RuPaul's Drag Race: Season 4
"I am so deeply appreciative for the people I know and the strangers I've never met who take the few minutes to relate to and connect with me via my music. When I was younger, coming home from school and listening to music for the rest of the night was my favorite thing to do. It made me think, and it allowed me to relate so strongly to someone I've never met. I came to feel that it was okay to have the feelings music made me so aware of. It was a safe house for a gay kid who wasn't okay with being gay. Now that's what I do for other people. I give them a song they can listen to on repeat and allow them to connect with me, which hopefully means they will connect more with themselves. Being able to do that is something I am unendingly grateful for." — Blonde Maze, musician
"I'm thankful for being a part of such an inspiring community of artists, activists, and unique human beings. I live in one of the toughest and busiest cities in the world, and there's no way I could survive and enjoy my life as much as I do without my friends. I'm grateful for having the opportunity to meet so many incredible people from all around the world, and to build an uplifting supportive family together." —Ella Meir, Iris Lune
"This year I am thankful for growth. I am thankful for the ability to appreciate my own growth and the growth of those around me. I feel like with creative pursuits, it's easy to get caught up in markers of success, failure, good, bad, etc., but for me, all I can do is share and grow. I am thankful for the people around me who have helped create a space in which I can grow, and I am thankful for an exciting journey ahead that I hope continues to be filled with growth.” — Michael Blume, musician
"I’m thankful for more people caring less about gender and seeing humans as equal. I'm also thankful to have the chance to do what I love—making music!" — Kim Petras, musician
"I am thankful for all of the artists standing up and using their platform to voice their opinions and better the world. There is no room for silence right now. Also, I'm thankful for Shake Shack opening in Astor Place." — pronoun, musician
"It may sound cheesy, but I’m thankful for the overwhelming amount of support I have. Knowing that the people close to me support me even when my decisions may seem questionable to them is incredible. As someone who knows what it’s like to constantly feel like I’m going to fall, I can honestly say that I’ve never felt more stable and I can’t express my gratitude for that." — Maeve Gorman, Semblance