For the LGBTQ community, 2021 was both exciting and terrifying. On the one hand, our community experienced many advances, locally and nationally. On the other, the Republicans continued their quest to dismantle our rights and the country.
And on the last day of the year, we lost Betty White.
Here’s a brief look at the ups and downs of 2021.
VIRGINIA TURNS PURPLE AGAIN
In November, Republican Glenn Youngkin won his campaign for Virginia’s governor by a two percent margin, causing trepidation among many in the LGBTQ community. Voters also elected Republicans Lt. Governor-elect Winsome Sears and Attorney General-elect Jason Miyares. As well as won control of the Virginia House of Delegates. Many of the newly-elected Republicans oppose LGBTQ equality in various forms and scored close victories due in part to President Joe Biden’s dismal approval ratings, the inability of Democrats in Washington to pass an infrastructure bill or any economic plan, a slump in Black voter turnout, and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe’s uninspired campaign.
GAVIN GRIMM FINALLY WINS HIS CASE
After six long years of legal fights, Gavin Grimm finally won his Title XI case against the Gloucester School Board when the Supreme Court refused to hear the case in June. Three federal appeals courts have ruled that discriminatory restroom policies like the one in Grimm’s high school violate Title IX and the Constitution, and another two appeals courts have rejected claims that policies like the one Grimm seeks here — which would allow transgender students to use the restrooms — infringe on anyone else’s privacy. In August, the Gloucester County School Board was ordered to pay over $1.3 million in attorney’s fees and costs requested in Gavin Grimm’s discrimination case.
BIDEN APPOINTS RECORD NUMBER OF LGBTQ OFFICIALS
To date, the Biden-Harris administration has appointed over 200 known LGBTQ people to its administration, the most in history in any administration. Perhaps the two most high-profile case is Pete Buttigieg’s appointment as Secretary of Transportation. Dr. Rachel Levin also made history as the first openly transgender four-star officer in the nation’s eight uniformed services. LGBTQ appointments and promotions were made in all Government’s agencies, the military, and administration’s Cabinet.
ANNETTE STONE IS BRINGING THE HERSHEE BAR BACK
In a surprise announcement last June, Annette Stone, owner of the famed Hershee Bar in Norfolk, revealed plans to reopen the bar in a new space a mere block from its original location at Five Points. The property is one of several privately owned buildings at Five Points that Stone is renovating with plans to open later this year. The project is being funded by Norfolk native and property owner Bob Salisbury of the Legum Group, LLC. Said Stone, “Bob was so excited that someone from the local LGBTQ community was interested in the property.”
VIRGINIA BEACH SCORES PERFECT 100 ON 2021 MEI
For the second year, Virginia Beach scored a perfect 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipality Equality Index (MEI). The MEI is an annual report that examines how inclusive municipal laws, policies, and services are of LGBTQ people who live and work there. Cities are rated based on non-discrimination laws, the municipality as an employer, municipal services, law enforcement and leadership on LGBTQ equality. In 2021, every city in Hampton Roads that participated in the ninth annual report enjoyed a dramatic rise over their 2020 scores, primarily due to the passage of the Virginia Values Act.