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Top 10 national news stories of 2022

From Club Q to monkeypox to midterm surprises, a year to remember



From left, President Joe Biden signs the Respect for Marriage Act into law; Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson faces questions at her Senate confirmation hearing; and Club Q bartender Michael Anderson testifies before the House Oversight Committee . (Washington Blade file photos by Michael Key)

The year 2022 will be remembered for a slew of LGBTQ-related news. As if COVID wasn’t bad enough, the arrival of monkeypox in the spring led to a new panic and new round of vaccinations among gay and bi men. There was the overturning of Roe and fears of attacks on Obergefell. Then came the midterms and the Democrats ran surprisingly strong. And just when we thought the year was over, five LGBTQ people were shot to death at Club Q and Congress managed to pass the Respect for Marriage Act. 

Below are the Blade’s staff picks for the top 10 stories of 2022.

#10 Karine Jean-Pierre makes history 

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Karine Jean-Pierre made history this year, becoming the first Black and the first LGBTQ White House press secretary, having previously served as deputy press secretary to Jen Psaki and chief of staff for then-vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris. 

When Jean-Pierre gave her first White House press briefing last year, on an Air Force One flight bound for Atlanta, she became the first LGBTQ person to do so. Jean-Pierre is also an immigrant born in Martinique, France, to Haitian parents.

#9 Turmoil and change at HRC 

Former HRC President Alphonso David (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Alphonso David’s tenure as the first Black president of the Human Rights Campaign came to an end in 2021 following accusations that David, when serving as counsel to then-New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, helped to cover up allegations that the politician had sexually harassed and assaulted multiple women. After stepping down from HRC, David filed a lawsuit against the organization alleging discrimination. 

On Nov. 28, 2022, Kelley Robinson took over as HRC president, becoming the first Black queer woman to lead the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization. A veteran community organizer who previously served as executive director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, Robinson told the Blade she is committed to leading HRC with a focus on intersectionality. 

#8 U.S. declares monkeypox public health emergency

Monkeypox virus (Image courtesy of the CDC)

In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the monkeypox virus (MPV) outbreak a public health emergency in the United States. Cases by then had been reported in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico – almost all by gay and bisexual men who have sex with men. 

Initially, the Biden-Harris administration’s vaccination campaign, which involved transporting doses from the Strategic National Stockpile to clinics across the country, was widely criticized as too slow, with problems that carried over from the government’s shaky rollout of tests and vaccines for COVID-19. 

By midsummer, however, more shots were being administered in more arms thanks to a coordinated effort by the White House Pandemic Office. The number of MPV cases declined from a peak of 440 per day in August to 60 in October. 

#7 Ketanji Brown Jackson joins Supreme Court 

Associate Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Ketanji Brown Jackson began her tenure as the first Black woman to serve as a justice on the U.S. Supreme Court, having previously presided over the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. 

Before Jackson was seated this summer, the Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority overturned the constitutional right to abortion with its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. 

This term, the Supreme Court will decide 303 Creative v. Elenis, a case that was brought by a web designer who wanted to reject same-sex couples’ requests for wedding websites and whose outcome could carry broad implications for the enforcement of nondiscrimination laws against providers of public accommodations. 

#6 Schools become nexus of battles over LGBTQ rights

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) (Screen capture via YouTube)

As conservative state legislators ramped up attacks on the LGBTQ community with bills targeting youth sports and policies in public schools, right-wing advocates and hate groups increasingly protested all-ages LGBTQ events like family-friendly drag performances and drag queen story hours – often carrying firearms and occasionally causing enough disruption that organizers and patrons were forced to disperse. 

From Virginia to Minnesota to Florida, schools were embroiled this year over battles like whether educational materials containing LGBTQ themes should be made available to students and whether LGBTQ students should be outed to their parents. 

Critics of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law said it was written with discriminatory intent, warning teachers could be penalized for something as innocuous as displaying a photo of their same-sex spouse. 

#5 Record number of anti-trans bills filed across country

Gov. Greg Abbott (R-Texas) (Screen capture via Fox 7 Austin YouTube)

More anti-trans bills were proposed this year in state legislatures throughout the country than during any other time in the nation’s history. Most targeted trans youth. 

Some laws prohibit trans student athletes from playing and competing, while others restrict access to bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identities and others target guideline directed medical treatments. 

Texas Governor Greg Abbott, for example, directed child welfare authorities to investigate suspected cases where parents made gender affirming healthcare available to their trans and nonbinary children. 

#4 Pelosi steps down from leadership after husband attacked 

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced her plans to step down from House Democratic leadership after two decades, following the attack on her husband Paul Pelosi by an intruder who broke into the couple’s San Francisco home. 

The first woman ever elected to become Speaker, Pelosi has been called the most effective lawmaker to ever serve in that role. Under the administrations of four presidents over two decades, she boasted signature legislative accomplishments like the passage of the Affordable Care Act and repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) was elected to succeed her. 

#3 Midterms deliver Trump rebuke, victories for LGBTQ candidates

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-N.Y.) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Political observers were surprised by Democrats’ expanded Senate majority and Republicans’ narrow capture of the House following the 2022 midterm elections, which were expected to hand the GOP decisive control of both chambers of Congress. 

Not all Democratic candidates were so fortunate, however. Gay New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), for instance, failed to win reelection despite his position as chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s sixth highest-ranking position in the House. 

Meanwhile, the LGBTQ Victory Fund reports that a record-breaking number of LGBTQ candidates ran for and were elected to public office – more than 340 and 1,065, respectively. 

#2 Club Q shooting and fallout

Club Q bartender Michael Anderson testifies before the House Oversight Committee on Dec. 14, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

On Nov. 19, the eve of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, a gunman opened fire in Club Q, a Colorado Springs LGBTQ nightclub, killing five people and wounding 17 others in the deadliest attack on LGBTQ people since the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. 

The suspect, who was tackled and disarmed by patrons, including a trans woman, was charged with 305 criminal counts including hate crimes and murder. 

The tragedy ignited a conversation about the link between hateful anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and actual violence directed at the community. 

#1 Respect for Marriage Act becomes law

President Joe Biden signs the Respect for Marriage Act into law at the White House on Dec. 13, 2022. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Respect for Marriage Act, widely considered the greatest legislative victory for LGBTQ rights since the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011, was passed by Congress with little time to spare before the end of the legislative session and promptly signed into law by President Joe Biden on Dec. 13.

Should the U.S. Supreme Court overturn or substantially weaken the constitutional right to same-sex marriage, the Respect for Marriage Act will gird against some of the greatest harms that would result for same-sex couples in the United States. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas signaled his plan to revisit the high court’s caselaw governing marriage – along with other fundamental rights – in his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case whose ruling this summer overturned federal protections for abortion that had been in place since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. 


The White House

Country’s first nonbinary state lawmaker participates in Gaza ceasefire hunger strike

Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner is Muslim



Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner in front of the White House on Nov. 30, 2023, while taking part in a hunger strike for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The country’s first nonbinary state lawmaker last week participated in a hunger strike for a permanent ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that took place in front of the White House.

Oklahoma state Rep. Mauree Turner took part in the 5-day action alongside actress Cynthia Nixon, Virginia state Del. Sam Rasoul, Delaware state Rep. Madinah Wilson-Anton, New York State Assemblymember Zohran Mamdani, Michigan state Rep. Abraham Aiyash, former New York Congressional candidate Rana Abdelhamid, Muslim Founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, Adalah Justice Project Director of Strategy and Communications Sumaya Awad and Linda Sarsour. The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Jewish Voice for Peace, Democratic Socialists of America, IfNotNowMovement, Dream Defenders, the Institute for Middle East Understanding and the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee are the organizations that either participated in the hunger strike or endorsed it. 

“This is the place where you should be,” Turner told the Washington Blade on Nov. 30 while they were standing in front of the White House.

Turner is from Ardmore, Okla., and has been a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives since 2021. They are the first Muslim person elected to the Oklahoma Legislature.

“Oklahoma is no stranger to genocide, displacement, uprooting communities — beautiful, vibrant, vulnerable communities — just because they could,” said Turner, referring to the treatment of Native Americans in what became Oklahoma during the 1800s and early 1900s. “Specifically as a Muslim and as an Oklahoman it is my duty to be here.”

The hunger strike took place nearly two months after Hamas, which the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization, launched a surprise attack against communities in southern Israel from Gaza.

The Israeli government has said roughly 1,200 people have been killed, including at least 260 people who Hamas militants murdered at an all-night music festival in a kibbutz near the border between Israel and Gaza. The Israeli government also says more than 5,000 people have been injured in the country since the war began and Hamas militants kidnapped more than 200 others.

Yarden Roman-Gat, whose gay brother, Gili Roman, spoke with the Washington Blade on Oct. 30 in D.C., is one of the 105 people who Hamas released during a truce with Israel that began on Nov. 24 and ended on Dec. 1.

The Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry says more than 15,000 people have died in the enclave since the war began. Israel after Oct. 7 cut electricity and water to Gaza and stopped most food and fuel shipments.

“It’s absolutely wild to think about what is happening to the Palestinian people in Gaza and in the West Bank,” said Turner.

Turner noted the war began two days before Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

“By October the 10th, when the world was really seeing what was happening in Gaza,” they said. “So many people who had celebrated specifically Indigenous Peoples’ Day had also sided with the Israeli government over the indigenous people of the land.”

‘The death of civilians is absolutely horrible’

Turner in response to the Blade’s question about the Israelis who militants killed on Oct. 7 emphatically said “the death of civilians is absolutely horrible.” Turner added they “cannot stress enough that when we back people into a corner, we don’t know what will happen.”

“The truth of the matter is our governments, our governmental officials do not have to put people in a corner,” said Turner.

Turner was particularly critical of the Israeli government’s actions in Gaza after Oct. 7.

“I don’t think there’s any place where a government has the power to shut off right water, food, healthcare supplies, things like that,” they said. “It’s just in doing so against a population that has 2 million people … that’s not anyone looking for equitability or justice. That is genocide against its people.”

Turner noted Republican Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt continues to publicly support Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Turner told the Blade “when we oppress people over decades and decades … we cannot, we don’t get to cherry pick” or “we don’t get to tone police or however they are fighting back to be heard, to be, to live for vibrant lives.”

“We cannot tell oppressed people how to hurt out loud,” they said, specifically referring to Palestinian people. “We can create governments that care for people from a community standpoint who are thinking creatively about how we provide aid and support and we can ask our elected officials (members Congress, President Joe Biden, state and local officials) to teach truth. We can ask them to continuously make sure that we are providing the best care and understanding of the situations at hand. We can ask them to do a ceasefire to stop sending aid to the Israeli government and emboldening their military forces.”

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Climate change threatens LGBTQ resort communities

Provincetown, Cape Cod, other destinations face ‘existential’ challenge



The beach in Fire Island Pines, N.Y., on New York's Fire Island has been the scene of extreme erosion in recent years. (Photo courtesy Actum Vice President Savannah Farrell)

As the world reckons with worsening impacts of climate change, some LGBTQ communities and destinations are grappling with the “existential” threat posed by the crisis.

The United Nations’ annual climate conference will take place in the United Arab Emirates through Dec. 12. LGBTQ climate activists, however, are concerned about representation at COP28 because the meeting is taking place in Dubai, which is in a country that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations.

President Joe Biden on Nov. 14 delivered a statement on climate change policy during his administration. Biden spoke on the American Rescue Plan, the Fifth National Climate Assessment, new transparency about the state of the country’s climate and more. 

Biden emphasized “advancing environmental justice for disadvantaged communities, because they’re the ones always left behind.” Evidence of this trend can be found in LGBTQ destinations across the country.

Julian Cyr, a gay Massachusetts state senator who represents Provincetown and other towns on Cape Cod, recognizes the state’s importance to the LGBTQ community, stating that “according to the Census, it may be the highest per capita density of LGBTQ+ people certainly in the United States, and perhaps internationally.”

Provincetown, a popular gay destination located at the tip of Cape Cod, is facing worsening storms as climate change advances. These storms reshape the natural environment as well as damage the built environment. A series of Nor’easters in 2018 flooded Provincetown, damaging homes, businesses and the town hall. 

“The climate crisis is … already forcing us to do a lot of planning and reevaluation of coastal resilience of our built environment,” said Cyr. 

All hope isn’t lost yet for Massachusetts destinations. 

Then-Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, in 2022 introduced the Climate Roadmap, which aims for zero carbon emissions by 2050. The state also is building the country’s first offshore wind farm, Vineyard Wind. 

Cyr said citizens can push for climate change legislation by making the urgency known to their local elected officials.  

“This is truly existential for coastal, low-lying communities like those that I represent,” said Cyr. “It’s really important that constituents weigh in with their elected officials and make sure that they know that this issue is crucially important. I don’t know how we not solve this issue.”

Experts are seeing similar effects in nearby LGBTQ destinations, such as Cape Cod.

“One thing that we do see already is the effect of storms,” said Mark Adams, a retired Cape Cod National Seashore cartographer. “Those storms are the signal of sea level rise.”

Adams said that as a result of rising temperatures and new, intense storms, he is also starting to see damaged ecosystems, unnatural migration patterns of local wildlife, and planting-zones moving northward. Adams told the Washington Blade these changing ecological relationships may mean an uncertain future for life along the coast: the self-sustaining lifestyle and seafood could be at risk as ocean acidification puts shellfish in danger. 

“If you can’t get oysters and clams, that would really change life on Cape Cod,” he said. 

In addition to the damage caused by storms, Cape Cod’s natural environment is also facing the threat of littering and plastic pollution. While the area’s beaches keep tourism alive, fishing gear and marine debris washing up on the shore are growing concerns for the community. 

Adams said this is where the choices individuals make to avoid plastics will make a huge difference in the future of these communities. 

“There are little choices we can make to get off of the petroleum stream,” he said.

A car in floodwaters in Miami Beach, Fla., in July 2018. Climate change has made Miami Beach and other coastal cities more susceptible to flooding. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

Aspen Gay Ski Week adapts to warmer winters

Aspen Gay Ski Week was the first gay ski week, and it is the largest such event in the world, and is the only non-profit gay ski week.

Rising temperatures and short winters are growing concerns for destinations like Aspen, Colo., that depend on snow, according to AspenOUT Executive Director Kevin McManamon.

“As our seasons get shorter … we have to plan for the future,” McManamon said.

Colorado has also faced increased forest fires in recent years.

The Marshall Fire in 2021 devastated the state, destroying buildings and killing two people. Increasingly dry conditions feed into these fires, which will mean more impacts on humans, nature, and infrastructure.

McManamon nevertheless said he is optimistic about Aspen Gay Ski Week’s future due to the organization’s forward thinking. One such initiative is its involvement with Protect Our Winters, an organization that advocates for protecting the environment with the support of the outdoor sports community. 

“The cool part about being here in Aspen and having a great relationship with Aspen Skiing Company is that they are … on the leading edge of climate change,” said McManamon. 

Stronger storms threaten Fire Island

Fire Island Pines on New York’s Fire Island has been a safe haven for the LGBTQ community since the 1950s.

Fire Island Pines Property Owners’ Association President Henry Robin notes natural disasters cause more damage in the community as opposed to those that are across the Great South Bay on Long Island because Fire Island is a “barrier island.”

“When Superstorm Sandy hit, or when a Nor’easter hits, or a hurricane hits, the brunt of the storm is first taken by the Pines,” said Robin. 

Robin said “the Pines is thriving” just over 11 years since Sandy, but there is no climate change response. The federal government implemented a beach restoration project for Fire Island, and later, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers created an engineered beach for the Pines. 

Robin also formed three task forces — comprised of community members — to address local concerns, many of which were climate related, according to focus groups and a survey. Robin is also hoping to introduce recycling programs and solar energy to the Pines. 

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The White House

US announces additional sanctions for Ugandan officials

Anti-Homosexuality Act signed on May 29



LGBTQ and intersex activists protest in front of the Ugandan Embassy in D.C. on April 25, 2023. (Washington Blade photos by Michael K. Lavers)

Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday announced sanctions against current and former Ugandan officials who committed human rights abuses against LGBTQ people and other groups.

“After Uganda’s flawed 2021 presidential elections, I announced a visa restriction policy targeting those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda,” said Blinken in a statement. “At that time, I implored the government of Uganda to significantly improve its record and hold accountable those responsible for flawed electoral processes, violence and intimidation.”

Blinken announced “the expansion of the visa restriction policy to include current or former Ugandan officials or others who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Uganda or for policies or actions aimed at repressing members of marginalized or vulnerable populations.” 

“These groups include, but are not limited to, environmental activists, human rights defenders, journalists, LGBTQI+ persons and civil society organizers,” he said. “The immediate family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions.”  

Blinken added the U.S. “stands by the Ugandan people and remains committed to working together to advance democracy, human rights, public health and mutual prosperity.”  

“I once again strongly encourage the government of Uganda to make concerted efforts to uphold democracy and to respect and protect human rights so that we may sustain the decades-long partnership between our countries that has benefited Americans and Ugandans alike,” he said.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni on May 29 signed the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which contains a death penalty provision for “aggravated homosexuality.” The State Department a few weeks later announced visa restrictions against unnamed Ugandan officials.

The Biden-Harris administration in October said it plans to remove Uganda from a program that allows sub-Saharan African countries to trade duty-free with the U.S. The White House has also issued a business advisory for Uganda in response to the Anti-Homosexuality Act.

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