9 moments that made Pride 2021 truly unforgettable

Evan Ross Katz is In The Know’s pop culture contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.

As the great Rita Wilson once said, “Happy Pride.” And although Pride 2021 is officially a wrap, its memory — and perhaps the body glitter — will linger for weeks, months, even potentially until next year’s Pride. The confluence of the world beginning to reopen, the lack of Pride last year, the sounding bell of summer and the typical Pride jubilation led to a month unlike any other, one filled with moments large and small, seismic and quiet, hilarious and heartfelt, but most of all, gay — very gay. 

Let’s relive some of the highlights, shall we?

Carl Nassib

One of the biggest singular moments of Pride 2021 was Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive end Carl Nassib announcing on Instagram that he is gay. In doing so, Nassib became the very first active, out player in the NFL’s 100+ year history. The one-minute video was accompanied by a carousel on Instagram in which he explained agonizing over this decision for fifteen years, discussed his eagerness to learn from those who came before him and shared that he had made a $100,000 donation to the Trevor Project.

He’s certainly not the first LGBTQIA+ athlete to play in the NFL, but his coming forward as the first out, active player and receiving widespread support from the league and his teammates could encourage other closeted athletes to come out as well. Nassib’s announcement marks a step toward breaking down the homophobia and transphobia that runs rampant in professional sports.

Lil Nas X kiss at the BET Awards

It wasn’t the singer’s first time sharing a same-sex kiss on national television (that came months earlier during his SNL performance), but it was especially notable given the venue and audience at the BET Awards.

“It took me a lot of time to mentally prepare for this performance,” Lil Nas X later tweeted. “While on stage, I was trembling knowing that I was performing something like that in front of my straight peers. Even during the performance, I was having a hard time calming my nerves.”

Nas X responded to some of the vocal criticisms online as a way to push back, something he’s been doing since coming out. After one troll accused him of being insecure about his sexuality, he snapped back in agreement saying they were right, tweeting, “I still have a long way to go. I’ve never denied that. When you’re conditioned by society to hate yourself your entire life, it takes a lot of unlearning. Which is exactly why I do what I do.”

Vogue Thailand features three trans models on its cover

Transgender models Moji, Blossom and Sunshine covered the June issue of Vogue Thailand. “The trans women featured within these pages are proof that through inner strength, grace and due diligence in moving mountains, their life and career choices are no longer confined to pageantry or entertainment,” wrote the Thai fashion magazine’s Editor-In-Chief Kullawit Laosuksri.

The models follow in the footsteps of Valentina Sampaio, who in 2017 became the first out transgender model to be on the cover of Vogue Paris. These covers help promote the idea that trans is not only acceptable, ’cause duh, but also that trans is beautiful. In fact, as proven here, it’s gorgeous.

Sha’Carri Richardson

21-year-old Sha’Carri Richardson, who came out as bisexual in 2015 on Twitter, became an immediate icon after sprinting past her competition at the women’s 100-meter qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympics. Her speed was the first thing people noted before they were able to finally catch a multi-second glimpse of her fire-orange hair, a switch-up from the blue she’d sported when she became the sixth-fastest woman ever.

“She said it just spoke to her, the fact that it was just so loud and vibrant,” Richardson said of her girlfriend’s choice to have her rock orange hair for this race. “That’s who I am. She just wanted me to be able to make a statement — let’s continue to show the world I’m a force to be reckoned with.” She’ll do just that in Tokyo beginning in late July.

Madonna at Boom Boom

The crowd at The Standard’s ultra-swanky Boom Boom Room, which included Andy Cohen, Anderson Cooper, Billy Eichner, Bowen Yang, Ziwe, Emily Ratajkowski, Christine and the Queens, Evan Mock and more, gathered bead-of-sweat-to-bead-of-sweat to kick off Pride Weekend in New York City and to watch a cerulean-haired, Sydney Bristow-inspired Madonna belt out “Hung Up” and “I Don’t Search I Find.”

Then came an auction, led by Madonna and a pussy-bow-clad Zachary Quinto, before which Madonna delivered a rousing speech.

“It is crazy, but with all the sacrifices, all the marching in the streets, all the protests, all the compromises, all the lives lost, all the relentless negotiations and all the bills being passed by legislation, the LGBTQ community is still fighting for their rights and their freedom,” the pop legend said. “It is at this very time, as Republicans in the Senate are trying to set us back by stalling bills being passed, that we must never let our guard down and think, ‘Oh it’s done. The fight is over.'”

Tommy Dorfman and Lucas Hedges hand-in-hand

Tommy Dorfman in a COS orange linen dress hand-in-hand with Lucas Hedges in Paddington the Bear drag paired with Loeffler Randall brown leather boots (believed to be Dorfman’s)? Don’t think I won’t be talking about this moment for years to come. Dorfman, who identifies as non-binary and is married to husband Peter Zurkuhlen, and Hedges, who shared in 2018 that he identifies as “not totally straight, but also not gay and not necessarily bisexual,” have not been seen together in public since, but that hasn’t stopped me from doing nothing but thinking about the images of them together, hands clasped, ever since.

Drag Race All Stars 6

Hot on the heels of UK Season 2 (which wrapped in March), Season 13 (which wrapped in April), Drag Race Down Under (which wrapped on June 19) and concurrently with Drag Race España comes the sixth installment of the franchise’s All Stars format. Fatigued? Maybe. Ready for more? Always. Boasting two transgender contestants, four plus-size contestants and a majority of POC returning queens, this is set up to be one of the franchise’s most exciting go-rounds. But regardless of who comes out on top, the return of weekly Drag Race viewing parties promises to reinvigorate the gay bar industrial complex that was hit hard, along with so many businesses, by COVID-19.  

Megan Fox’s Instagram post

Fox, who has been very publicly dating Machine Gun Kelly since the onset of the pandemic after the pair met on the set of their upcoming crime thriller, Midnight In The Switchgrass, took to her Instagram during Pride to remind her 12.5 million followers that it is she who has been “putting the B in LGBTQIA for over two decades.” Fox has been publicly out for over a decade, telling Esquire in 2009, “I think people are born bisexual, and they make subconscious choices based on the pressures of society.”

Zoe Kravitz’s Instagram post

“proud AF,” Zoe Kravitz posted on Instagram on June 27, adding “🌈 HAPPY PRIDEEEEEEEEEEEE.” Though the actress has not formally come out publicly, she has not been coy about her friendship-maybe-relationship with Zola star Taylour Page. Look, she looks gorgeous, seems happy and is vocally proud? We have no choice but to stan.

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