As 2011 draws to a close, PinkNews.co.uk takes a look back at the most important stories of the last twelve months.

We will look at the most important stories of the year for the UK, the most important stories in the US, and the most important stories around the world.

But this category is dedicated to the strangest stories of the year: the news in 2011 which took us completely by surprise.

10 – Woman attacks “lesbian” Gauguin painting

Gauguin might not be for everyone, but one museum visitor in Washington DC reacted particularly badly to the “evil homosexual” element she perceived in his 1899 work Two Tahitian Women.

9 – George Michael says the gays on Eastenders are scaring children

George Michael employed some pretty colourful language in his critique of the gay characters on soap opera Eastenders.

The musician took to Twitter to say the BBC drama was “scaring the shit out of children”, with one being repeatedly beaten up and another disowned by his Muslim family
.

8 – 19 stone rugby player suffers stroke and “wakes up gay”

A rugby player who suffered a stroke after a gym accident woke up gay and became a hairdresser, he said this year. Chris Birch said “It sounds strange but when I came round I immediately felt different […] I was definitely gay.”

7 – World’s first gay beer launched

A beer believed to be the first specifically marketed to gay consumers was launched in Mexico, Colombia and Japan in February of this year. Distributors said they had “great respect with the idea of offering a product directed to the gay-lesbian community that has been ignored for too long but is important and very demanding”.

6 – Anti-gay US politician was a secret sperm donor to lesbians

An American politician who has campaigned against gay marriage was revealed to be a sperm donor to lesbian couples in Australia. Bill Johnson’s wife could not conceive, so he turned to sperm donation because he believed reproduction was “as basic a human need as eating”. He had not told his wife.

5 – 5,000 year old “transgender” skeleton found in Prague

Archaeologists in the Czech Republic dug up what they believed to be the remains of a 5,000-year-old transgender person in April. The male skeleton, from between 2900 and 2500BC is from the Corded Ware culture of the Copper Age, and was buried as a woman.

4 – Belgian footballer comes out and becomes a gay porn star

While the professional footballing world suffers a dearth of out gay players, Jonathan de Falco, formerly of Racing Mechelen and Oud-Heverlee Leuven, took coming out to another level by launching a career in gay porn.

3 – Thomas Jane used to “let a guy buy him a sandwich”

In October, Thomas Jane, the star of HBO series ‘Hung’, revealed he worked as a male prostitute when he first arrived in Hollywood: “I wasn’t averse to going down to Santa Monica Boulevard and letting a guy buy me a sandwich. Know what I mean?”

2 – Toronto Zoo’s gay penguins are forced to separate, then one turns straight

Buddy and Pedro seemed to capture the imagination of the world this year, when Toronto Zoo announced it had to separate the ‘gay’ penguins as part of a breeding programme. We were thrilled to hear the pair would be “reunited in the spring”.

But the story did not end there. In December, Buddy, the older of the two, found a new, female, mate.

1 – US woman too “disgusted by gays” to leave the house

If you are out and about this Christmas, spare a thought for Stacy Trasancos, a Massachusetts woman who said this year she was too “disgusted” by gays to leave her home.

The stay-at-home mother of seven said she was “outnumbered” by gays. On her blog, she said she knew “what would happen if I asked two men or two women to stop displaying, right in front of me and my children, that they live in sodomy”.