Rainbow Rant: In 2019, queer and trans people created our own joy

Joy Ellison
Rainbow flag

2019 is ending, and I don’t know anyone who is sad to see it go. 

This year was heartbreaking for queer and trans people. President Trump and the Republican regime rolled back protections for trans people at every opportunity. Violence against black trans women rose, as did hate crimes against the rest of the LGBT community. We struggled to survive — physically, financially and emotionally.

Too often our own community disappointed us. Ellen DeGeneres and Jane Lynch made it clear that their loyalty is to other rich people, not working queer and trans people who don’t have wine caves or a record of war crimes. Pete Buttigieg became the first gay man to run for the Democratic nomination for president, but his platform is far from progressive. It’s hard to be proud when these are our members of the community in the spotlight.  

But in the midst of pain, we still found ways to do what we do best: make our own joy. These are some of the moments that gave me hope this year:

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After being insulted by Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló, Ricky Martin joined in an uprising that rocked the island. During a march of thousands, he stood on top of a float waving a flag with a rainbow on one side and a Puerto Rican flag on the other. The movement, sparked by feminists and queer people, forced Rosselló to step down.

Megan Rapinoe and a squad of queer women led the U.S. Women’s soccer team to a World Cup victory. When she guzzled champagne and shouted, “I deserve this,” she made insecure sexists everywhere nervous.

Billy Porter rocked red carpet after red carpet with gender-bending glamour, and finally got the critical respect he has long deserved.

I asked readers of Columbus Alive to share their own favorite moments from 2019 by participating in a haiku contest. Here is a selection of my favorite entries:

Inspired by Larry Kramer’s address to the 2019 Queer Liberation March in New York City, Christopher M. Pence celebrated activists who are still fighting drug companies that profit off queer people:

PrEP is not a cure

But a legal ransom note

Hookups continue

Jim Campbell wrote about Lil Nas X, whose song “Old Town Road” broke billboard records:

A new old gay road

Break the Billy Ray hair ache 

Lil explodes old love

Explaining his haiku, Campbell wrote, “To me, his song and outness are a new part of an old LGBT road, and they break a hole in the heteronormativity of most popular country music. Thanks for being you, Lil Nas X!”

Danielle Tanimura reflected on everyday triumphs:

Let’s see how this goes

“Ma’am, can I see your ID?”


She wrote, “As a trans elder, this interaction never gets old and apparently neither do I.”

Others celebrated the personal moments that filled our hearts with love. Mayhem wrote:

Tiny eyes open

Fists grip empty air in joy

Newborn niece is here

Finally, an anonymous poet commented on the movement that forced Stonewall Columbus to finally apologize to the Black Pride Four, my own favorite local news story of the year:

More advocates said,

“Accountability now!” 

Stonewall said, “How rude?!!”

I don’t know what’s in store for queer and trans people in 2020. No matter what happens, though, we’ll find ways to create our own pleasure and joy, and those moments are what liberation is made of.