By Todd Craig
It occurs to me that now is as good a time as any to be gay. In fact this past year, 2013, has been anything but unlucky for us. History, when it looks back on this year, will have no choice but to view it through rainbow-colored glasses.
With that said, it’s time to crown 2013 as the GAYEST Year in American History.
Why? For decades it seemed that our progress and acceptance had been limited to certain areas: New England states, the genre of dance music, and Bea Arthur sitcoms to name a few primary ones. But 2013 has seen major changes in our LGBT favor in areas that haven’t traditionally changed very easily at all. Let’s review the good news, shall we?
1. Back in June, the Supreme Court took on DOMA and kicked its worthless, discriminatory ass out of the federal law books of our country. Sure, it wasn’t the wide-ranging decision that many activists had hoped for, but those sneaky Supremes made it abundantly clear what can and can’t happen in regards to marriage law, and in so doing gave attorneys everywhere a step-by-step plan for eviscerating every gay marriage ban in the country. Utah, New Mexico, Hawaii, Indiana, and New Jersey all began marrying same sex couples in the six months after the ruling. Of course, we here in Colorado aren’t quite so active, but at least we can appreciate the victories of others while we wait.
2. Second to the Supremes, we gays took a big leap forward when the newest Pope uttered the words, “If someone is gay, who searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?” With that one phrase, Pope Francis hit a control-alt-delete on years’ worth of fear mongering, hatred, intolerance, and well, judgment from the Catholic
hierarchy and their followers. Of course, he also added that homo-sex is still a sin, but whatever. Catholics, both old and young, have a new leader and a new perspective, which has given rise to such stories as this one from last week about students at a Catholic school protesting the forced resignation of their vice principal for marrying his husband.
3. Not only did the Catholic Church backpedal on their fight against all things gay, but so did the Mormon Church. Mormon history, when it came to us gays, is one filled with hideous examples of shunning and cruelty, a persecution ironically not unlike what many early Mormons went through. In their checkered past the Mormons have never been the most inclusive, only allowing African Americans into their flock in 1978, and their attitudes and actions towards LGBT folk certainly weren’t much better. The high point of Mormon involvement in gay hating came with the passage of Prop 8 in California, much of which was credited to the financial and vocal support of the Mormons. Yet, for winning the battle, they lost the war, as was brilliantly written on Mother Jones here. Consequently, the Mormon Church, like the Catholic Church, is preaching a new perspective based on inclusion and love. Sure, they and their members still have a ways to go as seen with whack-o sci-fi writer Orson Scott Card, but then again, every step forward is a step in the right direction.
4. The Boy Scouts of America also took a step into the 21st century with their decision to allow gay scouts to participate in their ranks. Their hardline stance against gays earned them nothing but bad press, dwindling participation, and lost donors. While the decision disappointed many who wanted acceptance of gay scout leaders, too, the pressure is still on the organization to continue expanding its inclusive ways. This has been seen in recent stories about aircraft giant LockheedMartin withdrawing their financial support as well as in smaller contexts as with this church in Cheyenne, WY who refused to allow its building as a meeting place over the continued banning of gay scout leaders.
5. When it comes to the music industry, we gays have both been loved and scorned – often times by artists on the same top 40 list. This year though, two artists made big splashes in genres where LGBT people aren’t usually celebrated, much less sung about. For the better part of the year, listeners couldn’t turn on their radios without hearing Macklemore’s Same Love while the video garnered over 100 million hits on YouTube alone. The rap song about inclusiveness and the love of queer folk would have been unheard of years ago, and yet in 2013 it’s a career-launcher. Similarly, no one’s ever started a country music career with a song about two boys falling in love while drinking around a campfire, but that’s exactly the trick Steve Grand pulled off this summer when his All-American Boy video went viral.
So as 2013 draws to a close, it’s important to step back and appreciate our progress this year whether it be in the federal law books or on the R&B music charts. We may not have equality for all in 2013, but we’re a helluva lot closer than we were in 2012. Our federal laws have changed. Our biggest opponents have evolved in their attitudes and actions towards us. We have gay-proud faces and role models in communities where they have always remained hidden and silent.
And that progress is certainly history in the making and well worth celebrating.