Happy (American) Thanksgiving, AfterEllen readers! As we gorge ourselves on turkey and dressing and mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese and green bean casserole and pecan pie, we thought we’d take a look back at this year in lesbian/bi pop culture and remember the things that fill us with gratitude. So, guzzle that wine and join us as we countdown 50 reasons we’re thankful to be gay ladies in 2013.
1. Orange Is the New Black
I’m thankful for Orange Is the New Black, which not only is a great series with key lesbian and bisexual characters, but secretly a show all about women of color. And it helps that it’s hilarious. — Dorothy Snarker
2. Bomb Girls
I am so thankful that the Bomb Girls (and by extension, more Betty McRae) movie is actually going to happen, thus restoring my faith in justice/miracles/Canada. — Elaine Atwell
3. Tegan and Sara
For over a decade I’ve kept loyal to Tegan and Sara—so when they released their anticipated 2013 album Heartthrob, I was overjoyed with nostalgic, teenage-feelings. Their new music sent me into a state of leg bopping and feet jumping. The icing on this cake came when they released the music video for “Closer” and behind the scenes, the two made mention of My So-Called Life—comparing this house party scene in the music video to that of a lost Angela Chase birthday bash of some sort. Now that—that was genius to a herd of late 20-somethings like me who simply already felt and hoped that was the aesthetic T&S were going for.
Then, Heartthrob: The Interviews brought together all the missing pieces that now complete a puzzle of pop culture reason: Tegan and Sara were as fanatical for Joey McIntyre as I was growing up—they perhaps coveting his way cool threads and slick stage moves, and I more or less drooling over him in general (because in retrospect he did have a hint of lesbian swag). And when they chatted up Kate Moennig, she professed her love of 90210’s bad boy Dylan McKay, who happened to be my second boy crush next to Joey. For all of us weird, closeted kids of the early ‘90s who idolized such pop culture icons, it comes with great gratitude to hear major “coming-out-crushes” into the gay world rattle off like-minded feelings. So to sum it up: I’m thankful for Tegan, Sara, the ‘90s, boys of the ‘90s who made us gay, and the ways 2013’s Heartthrob made us swoon in all the familiar ways. — Kim Hoffman
4. The Fosters
In the land of fictional characters there is nothing I am more thankful for this year than The Fosters. The show, which could have so easily veered off the rails as it tackled every issue under the sun in its first ten episodes, met and exceeded every single one of my wildest dreams. The show balanced the stories of the five teenage children that are the bread and butter of ABC Family with some real depth in the storylines involving the moms. You had us at lesbian. — Lucy Hallowell
I’m thankful for The Fosters, which centers around an interracial same-sex couple raising a multi-ethnic blended family and highlights transcultural adoption. — Eboni Rafus
5. Arizona Robbins
To me, Arizona Robbins was always just a fun-loving lesbian character with the patience and optimism of a thousand saints, and then her plane fell out of the sky and she lost her leg and she suffered some serious PTSD — and that’s when she taught me about suffering and redemption and agony and defeat and getting up and falling down and getting up and getting up and getting up some some more. She taught me stuff I didn’t know about myself and stuff I didn’t know about people I love. And she made me really understand Hemingway for the first time: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places.” — Heather Hogan
6. Lesbian-Themed Novels
I’m grateful that both queer and non-queer authors are seeing success in telling (and selling) lesbian-themed stories. This year I read three great mainstream novels by straight-identified authors that had lesbians at the center—Bodies of Water by T. Greenwood, Bombshell by James Reich, and We are Water by Wally Lamb—and they were both such deliciously good stories about gay women that will reach people both inside and outside of the community. Even Stephen King put a lesbian character in his new book this year, Doctor Sleep. It’s so validating when we are seen as worthy portraits in books devoured by all kinds of humans. It’s only right, and much more interesting than reading about the same kinds of straight people all the time. Boring. — Trish Bendix
7. Orphan Black
I am grateful for Orphan Black for a number of reasons. First of all, because it gave us Cosima, a queer character who is adorable and lovable and emotional and smart. But, more importantly, it gave us Tatiana Maslany. Tatiana not only portrays Cosima beautifully (as well as all 93 other characters she plays on that show), but she also talks about her, and about sexuality in general, in such smart, meaningful ways. She has also been super supportive of her queer fan base (clonesbians, if you will) and is an excellent ally to have portraying a queer character. — Valerie Anne
8. Lesbian-Leaning Web Series
For lesbian leaning web series like Producing Juliet and Kelsey. The format allows great writers and actors to keep telling our stories while making them widely accessible to any queer with a computer or smartphone. Producing Juliet is from writer/director Tina Cesa Ward, who previously brought us the very popular web series Anyone But Me. Where Producing Juliet leans toward the serious side, Kelsey is a bundle of hilarious, nervous energy. They couldn’t be more different, but both are examples of what a great script and cast can mean for the medium of web based storytelling. — Dana Piccoli
9. Edie Windsor
When Edie Windsor met Thea Spyer in New York City in 1965, she wasn’t planning to change the laws of the nation. All she wanted to do was dance. That night, Windsor and Spyer danced until Windsor wore a hole in her stockings.
After a long love affair that spanned decades, Windsor and Spyer married in Toronto, Canada in 2007. Unfortunately, Spyer passed away in 2009. Then, to add insult to injury, the IRS ordered Windsor to pay $363,000 in estate taxes, which would not have been the case had Windsor and Spyer’s marriage been recognized by the federal government.
Windsor, as executor of Spyer’s estate, through her lawyers at Paul Weiss and the ACLU, filed suit in the Southern District of New York in November of 2010. The case reached the Supreme Court, and on June 26, 2013, the highest court of the land declared DOMA unconstitutional.
And thus, love changed America—and let us all be thankful that a certain Edie Windsor had an urge to get up and dance that fateful night in 1965. — Grace Chu
10. Adventure Time
2013 is the year Adventure Time‘s writers finally let us know that they ship Princess Bubblegum and Marceline the Vampire Queen as much as we do. They gave us “Sky Witch!” Plus, they released the entire mini-series of Marceline and the Scream Queens comic books in a trade-paperback. And oh my glob, those stories make their relationship absolute main text. — Heather Hogan