This year, LGBTQ Nation nominates five awe-inspiring individuals for LGBTQ Nation Hero of the Year. These athletes, performers, doctors, and politicians work every day to make the world a better place for LGBTQ people and everyone else. Through visibility, policy, standing up to bigotry, and sheer pride in who they are, these nominees inspire us all and prove that, for LGBTQ people, the sky is the limit.
This year’s LGBTQ Nation Hero of the Year nominees are Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, who cut through rightwing myths while campaigning for President Joe Biden and became the first out Executive Secretary; Assistant Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, who helped lead Pennsylvania’s response to the pandemic and became the first transgender administration official approved by the Senate; Lil Nas X, whose music and video art brought gay culture to mainstream audiences; Elliot Page, who used his platform to bring inspiring transgender stories to a wide audience and mobilize people to oppose anti-trans legislation; and Andraya Yearwood, who has been fighting for trans student-athletes for years despite constant attacks on her personhood.
Together, these five nominees have no doubt inspired millions of people to be proud of who they are.
It’s hard not fall for the innate charm and acute intelligence of Secretary Pete Buttigieg. He has been winning America’s hearts since he first rose to fame as a small-town Indiana mayor turned presidential candidate. While he didn’t win the Democratic primary, Buttigieg made it clear he had no plans to disappear. Instead, he continued to stand up and fight for progressive values.
As a spokesperson for the Biden campaign during the 2020 election, Buttigieg became known for his epic takedowns of Fox News hosts. In October, for example, he delivered some savage lines for Mike Pence in an interview about the vice presidential debate.
Following Biden’s victory, Buttigieg made history as the nation’s first out Cabinet secretary, sworn in with his husband Chasten by his side.
In his role as secretary, Buttigieg has continued to fight for marginalized communities. He spoke out, for example, about how racism is embedded in our infrastructure. And somehow, he still found the time to burn Fox News hosts.
Buttigieg’s openness about his sexual orientation and his relationship with his husband has also done wonders for LGBTQ visibility.
IT'S A HISTORIC MOMENT!!! Pete Buttigieg get sworn in as the Secretary of Transportation by Vice President Harris. pic.twitter.com/7aiG7YIY7a
— greg (@mistergeezy) February 3, 2021
Dr. Rachel Levine was confirmed by the Senate as the Assistant Secretary of Health and made history as the first ever out transgender federal official.
Dr. Levine rose to prominence while leading Pennsylvania’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic as the state’s Secretary of Health. She has faced transphobia along the way to D.C., but she has never let it stop her from her duty as a doctor: to help people get and stay healthy. And a big part of that has been promoting COVID-19 vaccinations to bring an end to the pandemic.
Since taking on her role in the Biden Administration, Levine has repeatedly spoken out for LGBTQ youth, voicing her opposition to anti-trans laws and appearing in a back-to-school address for transgender students to let them know that the federal government is here for them. She has also helped lead the Biden administration’s efforts to vaccinate the LGBTQ community against COVID-19.
Out musician Lil Nas X made headlines this year for his incredible music as well as the way he uses his art to unapologetically celebrate gay sexuality, identity, and experiences. In an industry where performers are often told to hide their LGBTQ identities, Nas has created a gay music empire that is nothing short of revolutionary.
When he released his hit single Montero (Call Me By Your Name) earlier this year, about a relationship between two men, he posted a letter to his 14-year-old self on Twitter, telling young Nas that coming out was a good thing, that the video would “open doors for many other queer people to simply exist.”
Nas’s videos and performances are also very, very gay.
The video for “Montero” shows Nas in drag, shirtless, in a bedazzled muscular bodysuit, and wearing knee-high stiletto boots and underwear while giving the devil a lap dance.
Nas has also become known for his savage social media takedowns of haters. He’s made it clear he is unfazed by the backlash to his bold portrayals of homosexuality.
Nas has brought the Internet joy by serving up epic response after epic response to those who seem to have nothing better to do than hurl insults his way. He even schooled South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R), who tweeted that a line of shoes he released were risking the souls of children.
ur a whole governor and u on here tweeting about some damn shoes. do ur job! https://t.co/qaor6W0B9C
— MONTERO 🦋 (@LilNasX) March 28, 2021
u can’t last 30 seconds in bed with your wife https://t.co/6mFCJlceWb
— MONTERO 🦋 (@LilNasX) March 29, 2021
lil nas = gay
so he wit boy
jack harlow = straight
so he wit girl
got it?? https://t.co/KghECFfSOw
— MONTERO 🦋 (@LilNasX) July 24, 2021
like the song is literally about gay sex what y’all want me to do play the piano while baking a cake? https://t.co/bzStSa3pYY
— MONTERO 🦋 (@LilNasX) June 28, 2021
Elliot Page broke the Internet when he came out as transgender in December, becoming one of the most famous trans men in the country.
Immediately, the Academy Award nominee became a trans icon – and he certainly met the moment. From day one, Page has used his platform to advocate for the transgender community. In his first message announcing he was trans, he spoke directly to political leaders who are attacking trans rights.
“Enough is enough,” Page wrote. “You aren’t being ‘cancelled,’ you are hurting people. I am one of those people and we won’t be silent in the face of your attacks.”
Since then, Page continued to open up about his journey to living as his authentic self. Through historic interviews with both Oprah and Time magazine, Page spoke about the joy being trans has brought him, as well as his desire to use his privilege and platform to help other trans people.
See an exclusive clip from Elliot Page’s upcoming interview with Oprah Winfrey:
— VANITY FAIR (@VanityFair) April 28, 2021
Efforts to criminalize trans kids are deadly and we need to fight back against Alabama’s HB1/SB10. Trans kids’ lives depend on stopping this bill. Tell Alabama lawmakers to #ProtectTransKids #NoHB1 #NoSB10 @ACLUAlabama
— Elliot Page (@TheElliotPage) March 5, 2021
— Elliot Page (@TheElliotPage) January 15, 2021
Andraya Yearwood just wanted to run track with the other girls at her school, but conservative Christians made her one of the most famous trans athletes in the country when they focused their ire on her.
Yearwood was the main topic in a 2020 lawsuit in which three students and their families sued the state of Connecticut to prevent Yearwood and another trans student-athlete from participating in school sports. Represented by the hate group Alliance Defending Freedom, the students alleged turned Yearwood’s talent and hard work into a liability by saying she had an unfair advantage and repeatedly misgendering her.
The lawsuit catapulted the teen into the public eye and even after it was dismissed this year she has continued to speak out for trans youth.
This summer, Hulu released Changing the Game, a 2019 documentary starring Yearwood and other trans athletes.
“A documentary is a very big deal. But what I’ve gone through is bigger than just me,” Yearwood recently told The Cut, “and I felt like I should get my story out there, spread awareness of trans athletes and what we’ve gone through, and hopefully show a different side than what’s been portrayed by the media.”
There is no doubt that Andraya Yearwood, Dr. Rachel Levine, Elliot Page, Lil Nas X, and Pete Buttigieg are all heroes for the LGBTQ community. Vote now and tell us who inspired you the most.