News Stories of the Year
From marriage celebrations in D.C. to
beleaguered youths taking drastic action to a prominent activist
succumbing to pressure, 2010 was as dramatic as they come. But the good
news outweighed the bad, with happy endings for people like Constance
McMillen, Dan Choi, and the students in Arkansas's Midland School
District. Here's our list of the most riveting news events of the year.
Annise Parker Takes Office
Somewhere Harvey Milk smiled on January 2: Lesbian Annise Parker began her first day as mayor of Houston, the nation’s fourth-largest city. Even though her city is on relatively stable financial ground, Parker still had to deal with an economy that has yet to fully recover. City council members showed how much faith they have in Parker’s leadership that they voted unanimously in December to give her the ability to order mandatory furloughs.
HIV Travel Ban Lifted
The teens started off with some good
news — on January 4, the 22-year-old ban on HIV-positive visitors to the
U.S. was finally ended. A gay man from the Netherlands became the first
HIV-positive tourist to freely enter the country when he landed at New
York’s JFK airport. With the travel ban ended, the U.S. is now planning
on hosting a biannual global HIV/AIDS summit in 2012.
D.C. Marriage Kicks Off
“Don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal was the
year’s big gay achievement, but marriage equality also advanced in 2010.
Washington, D.C., opened the doors to same-sex marriage, with the first ceremonies being held March 9.
Media reports of the first marriages showed a racially diverse mix of
couples — a big change from gay marriages showcased in states like Vermont
First Lesbian Episcopal Bishop Named
Too bad her surname
wasn’t Glassceiling — Mary Glasspool certainly broke a barrier when she
was consecrated on May 15 as the first openly lesbian bishop in the
Episcopal Church. The partnered Glasspool is now a bishop suffragan in
the church's Los Angeles diocese. In an interview with
The Advocate, the pioneer shared her favorite Bible verse: For I am
convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor
things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
ACLU Investigates Fake Prom
When 18-year-old Constance McMillen
invited another young woman at her prom at Itawamba Agricultural High
School in Fulton, Miss., she had no idea the nation would be riveted by
her actions. Last spring, school officials told McMillen she couldn’t
bring a same-sex date to the prom, then canceled the event altogether
when she resisted their decision. The ACLU sued the district on
McMillen’s behalf, and then a group of parents set up an outside prom — and sent McMillen and her date to a sparsely
attended fake prom. The school district later
settled with McMillen for $35,000, paid her attorneys’ fees, and enacted
a nondiscrimination policy.
As opposed to a retailer like Wal-Mart,
Target has enjoyed a positive reputation among many gay and lesbian
shoppers. But that all changed this summer when news broke of a $150,000
corporate donation from Target to a group supporting antigay Republican
Tom Emmer, who ran unsuccessfully for governor of Minnesota, where
Target is based. Boycotts followed, then an apology from Target CEO
Gregg Steinhafel, and then the news in December that Target
continued to contribute to antigay causes — months after Steinhafel’s
Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase, Seth Walsh — these
are just some of the names of the young people who took their lives this
year after enduring bullying for being gay, or being perceived as such.
But these young people didn’t die in vain; their stories brought
attention to an epidemic that has endured for decades, if not centuries.
Celebrities and politicians, from Kim Kardashian to President Obama,
filmed “It Gets Better” videos, while states and cities enacted or
considered antibullying legislation.
Arkansas School Board Member Thinks "Fags Should Die"
teachers and students across the nation wore purple this fall to
highlight the epidemic of antigay bullying, the vice-president of the
Midland School District board in Arkansas went in another direction. Posting
on Facebook, Clint McCance took umbrage with people dressing in purple,
and then, responding to comments on his page, said he hoped gay people
would kill themselves, dropped the f word repeatedly, and said he relished
"the fact that [gay people] give each other AIDS and die." After The
Advocate broke the story, reaction was swift: A Facebook page called for
his firing, and national media ran with the story. McCance offered a
pseudo-apology and resigned from his post in late October.
Lesbian Students Prevented from Graduating
Hicks (pictured) and Melissa McKenzie, both 18, were told by administrators at
Del City High School in Oklahoma that maybe they should finish out their
education at another school. Hicks put it this way while talking to
a local TV station in November: “The principal will say 'Well, you're
gay. You're not going to do anything with your life. You might as well
just drop out now.' It's stuff to put you down that makes you want to
drop out.” A statement from school officials said they don’t
discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex,
disability, or age — sexual orientation was notably absent from their
Dan Choi's Breakdown
In mid December, the repeal of “don’t ask,
don’t tell” looked like it slipped through Congress’s fingers
(thankfully, lawmakers would get it together before Christmas). Dan Choi, a
lieutenant in the Army facing discharge for coming out, had been
one of the most public gay personalities in the battle to end DADT — he came out
on The Rachel Maddow Show, chained himself to the White House wall,
endured hunger strikes, and traveled the country to tell his story at
rallies and protests. The assumed defeat of the repeal hit Choi hard, and
he was hospitalized at a mental facility following the news. But the
resilient activist wasn’t down for long — he attended the signing ceremony
for DADT’s repeal December 22. At the event, Senate majority leader
Harry Reid returned a West Point ring belonging to Choi, which he had given
to Reid five months earlier with the request to have it back when the law