150 Reasons to Have Pride in 2010

By Advocate Contributors

Originally published on Advocate.com May 10 2010 5:00 AM ET

Also, check out our interview with another reason to be proud: Cynthia Nixon.

BECAUSE FAIR IS FAIR
When Montana’s supreme court ruled in favor of a lesbian who sued her former partner for joint custody of the children they’d raised together, Justice James Nelson called antigay discrimination “evil.” He went on to say that “lesbian and gay Montanans must not be forced to fight to marry, to raise their children, and to live with the same dignity that is accorded heterosexuals.”

In the face of proposed legislation that would have prohibited Maryland from recognizing same-sex marriages performed legally in other jurisdictions, state attorney general Douglas F. Gansler said no. In an opinion (one that antigay pols tried unsuccessfully to impeach him over) Gansler said that if such rights are legal elsewhere, they’re good for Maryland too.
Even though Nevada governor Jim Gibbons vetoed a bill to legalize domestic partnerships, both the senate and assembly overrode the veto with clear majorities.

WEST SIDE STORY X390 (JOAN MARCUS) | ADVOCATE.COM 

BECAUSE WE MADE BROADWAY WHAT IT IS TODAY
Stephen Sondheim, the most Tony-winning composer, turned 80 in the spring and is being feted throughout the year for his body of work. I’ll drink to that! (We’ll be toasting with a vodka stinger.)

Yes, Arthur Laurents, the 91-year-old playwright and director, revived his West Side Story (featuring lyrics by Sondheim) in 2009 and has published a memoir, titled Original Story By, but we’re mostly excited by his advice for younger gay men: “First of all I want to say I’m active sexually, so there’s hope for anyone!”




150 REASONS TO HAVE PRIDE IN 2010 X390 | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE ROB REINER IS NOW ALL IN THE FAMILY
Whenever socially
conservative cable-news pundits spit out the phrase “Hollywood liberal”
(translation: “vile reprobate”), they’re usually referring to either
George Clooney, Sean Penn, or Rob Reiner, whose crusades for early
education and against the tobacco industry are legendary. But it wasn’t
until Proposition 8 left its dirty fingerprints up and down the state of
California that gay rights became a chief concern for the 63-year-old
director. “It was an eye-opener,” Reiner says. “It’s the last big piece
of the civil rights puzzle.” Reiner was instrumental in raising funds
for the legal challenge to Prop. 8, currently wending its way through
the federal courts. One of the plaintiffs, Kristin Perry, is a longtime
colleague of Reiner’s and the current executive director of First 5, a
childhood development program funded by cigarette taxes—the result of
California antitobacco ballot initiatives that Reiner spearheaded.CARL REINER XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE GENE ROBINSON WON’T HAVE TO SIT BY HIMSELF ANYMORE IN THE
BISHOP’S CAFETERIA

Mary Glasspool, widely regarded as a brilliant
and passionate Episcopal priest, was installed as the church’s second
openly gay bishop in May.

BECAUSE WE CAN THROW TOO
While
just half of the country would vote for an openly gay commander in
chief, a whopping 62% of people polled are ready for a gay quarterback
to lead his (or her) team to the Super Bowl, ­according to a poll
conducted by Vanity Fair/60 Minutes.

BECAUSE THERE WERE
NO GAY PEOPLE ON JERSEY SHORE

And we are not complaining.MARY GLASSPOOL X390 (FAIR USE) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE WEDDING BELLS ARE MUSIC TO OUR EARS
We’re verklempt, and we’re not even a mother of either groom. In March, Lance Cpl. James Wharton, a 23-year-old member of the British armed forces’ Household Cavalry, wed his 21-year-old partner, Thom McCaffrey, in full military regalia that included an Iraq tour medal proudly displayed on his uniform. “It was only a decade ago that military personnel who were found to be gay could be court-martialed and could face interrogation and expulsion, ruining otherwise promising military careers and promoting an atmosphere of fear among the forces,” says Joseph Galliano, a former editor in chief of the U.K.’s Gay Times. “The fact that the military has now hosted the civil partnership reception at their own barracks is a sign of how far British society has come.” The music of choice for the men’s stroll down the aisle? “Go West,” the Pet Shop Boys’ anthem to all things homo. JAMES WHARTON THOM MCCAFFREY X390 (DAVID SANDINSON) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE FAMILY DOESN’T ALWAYS STICK TOGETHER
Adam Bouska has enlisted the family of a failed Republican presidential candidate in his “No H8” photo campaign for gay rights—with Meghan McCain and Cindy McCain posing for his camera. If only Bouska could duct-tape the mouth of John McCain’s former running mate…

BECAUSE EVEN REALITY STARS WANT A PIECE OF THE ACTION
Those Real Housewives of various locales may have plenty of gay BFFs, but at least one of the players in this pop culture phenomenon has tried the actual gay thing herself. The news came out earlier this year of a romance between Kim Zolciak of The Real Housewives of Atlanta and popular lesbian DJ Tracy Young. While Zolciak was cagey when the first reports surfaced, she finally acknowledged that she and Young were together, telling Life & Style, “I’m among the millions of parents who have been in a gay or lesbian relationship.”

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BECAUSE AN ODE CAN GET YOU
NAME-CHECKED

When eight friends from New York City headed for
Fire Island Pines, slipped into their swimsuits, and filmed themselves
splashing in the ocean to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA,” they became
overnight Internet sensations. Among their biggest fans? Cyrus herself,
who tweeted that she was “obsessed” with the video. And she wasn’t the
first star to find herself fascinated with a tribute from a gay fan.
Dancer Shane Mercado so impressed Beyoncé when he danced up a storm to
her “Single Ladies” that she invited him to join her on the red carpet
at the premiere for her film Cadillac Records.

BECAUSE YOU’VE BEEN TRAINING
Are you a competitive ballroom
dancer or a power lifter? Either way, it looks like you’ll find your
people at Gay Games VIII, which kicks off July 31 in Cologne, Germany.

BECAUSE
WE KNOW WHAT’S GOOD FOR THE KIDS, AND IT ISN’T DISCRIMINATION

In
April, Chris Piazza, a circuit court judge in Arkansas, overturned a
state ban on unmarried couples living together—including same-sex
couples—adopting or fostering children. Piazza struck down the law,
approved by voters in 2008, saying it unduly limited the pool of
suitable foster and adoptive parents and didn’t serve the interests of
children who need a home.





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BECAUSE WE’RE HAPPY WHENEVER AND AT WHATEVER AGE YOU COME OUT
James Randi, famed debunker of paranormal phenomena, faith healing, and pseudo­scientific claims, has also exploded the myth that it’s ever too late to come out of the closet. “I thought it’s about time,” says Randi, 81, adding he has always been out to close friends and colleagues but was inspired to make a public announcement—on his website in March—after viewing the film Milk and in anticipation of publishing his autobiography. Randi says he’s received overwhelmingly positive feedback, including some from young gays who say his coming out has helped them do the same. Randi, who says he would marry his partner of 25 years if their union would be recognized in their home state of Florida, says he plans to work for marriage equality and other gay and lesbian causes.

It’s been a decade since Barbara Walters asked Ricky Martin on national TV if he was gay. He didn’t deny it; he just didn’t want to talk about it, an approach he used many times in years to follow. Which is why the pop star stunned his fans in March when he posted these words on his website: “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.” The 38-year-old singer said working on his memoir and raising his two toddlers helped lead him to the decision to come out—a move Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation president Jarrett Barrios says has the potential to “spark the types of conversations that build common ground” among Latinos. Pop star Christian Chávez, who came out in 2007 with Martin’s support, says he’s thrilled his friend can finally be open and honest about who he is: “Ricky Martin has always been a figure to look up to, and right now I’m so proud to be his fan.”

Meredith Baxter gave a voice to women “of a certain age” when she came out in December at 62, followed quickly by a book deal, an impressive speech at a Human Rights Campaign dinner, and a headlining appearance at the Dinah Shore Weekend.

Until blond cutie Duncan James of the U.K. boy band Blue came out as bi last year, he’d kept it even from his bandmates. (He’d been publicly linked romantically with Geri Halliwell, but we’re guessing she knew the score.)

Chastity Bono (pictured) came out as a lesbian in 1995 on the cover of The Advocate. Fourteen years later he came out as Chaz Bono, confirming through his publicist that he is transgender and would be transitioning from female to male. 








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BECAUSE YOU CAN LET YOUR BODY MOVE TO THE MUSIC
While Glee’s Jane Lynch has reminded the country why voguing never goes out of style, another gay iconoclast gave context and a deeper understanding to the dance form. As part of this year’s Whitney Biennial, performance artist Rashaad Newsome (pictured) held a voguing competition—complete with a DJ and judges—and then had a computer produce a line drawing of the performance, effectively turning the spontaneity of the movement into something resembling data. Popularized by Madonna through her 1990 song and video but created in Harlem dance halls years earlier, voguing both mocks and grasps at the old-school glamour found in Hollywood publicity stills and the glossy pages of fashion magazines. Newsome’s African-American subjects pose convulsively, as if an old Rolleiflex is snapping furiously. A flamboyant black man is far from a fashion magazine’s typical subject, both during Hollywood’s golden age and now. And that’s part of the point of Newsome’s work, which also includes photography and collage. In all of his media Newsome works to expose the pressure placed on African-American women to homogenize their appearance and demeanor. At one show he placed a group of seemingly angry black women in front of an audience. Challenging the audience to laugh, the ladies snapped their fingers, moved their necks in a stereotypical fashion, and repeated phrases like “Child, please!” and “Girl!” No full sentences were used, nor were they needed. As Newsome told Time Out New York, “For me, art takes over where words stop.” 

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE SHE’S LEFT AND CENTERED
Rachel Maddow is the smartest person on TV. Period.

BECAUSE WE ALL NEED TO CROSS THE FINISH LINE
It’s difficult to describe the ­final step across the finish line. Whether it’s at the end of a 10-kilometer AIDS walk or a 26.2-mile AIDS marathon run, it’s a moment of incredible reward—and exceptional challenge. The finish line signals the end of months spent fund-raising—in memory of family, friends, and entire communities devastated by disease. And it’s the last of many miles of training—more than 250 for those who choose a marathon. Since 1985, when 4,500 people in Los Angeles finished the first AIDS Walk, the gay community has led the way. Since my own HIV diagnosis, I’ve crossed 27 finish lines—18 AIDS walks and nine marathons—and I’ve heard hundreds of stories along the way: the lesbian who ran for loved ones lost, the transgender activist who harnessed the fund-raising power of her family, and the gay man who walked with the hope that he and his generation may be among the last to live with HIV. As we enter our fourth decade of the epidemic, the finish lines look a little different. More families participate together. The private sector provides generous support. Youths, even entire schools, form successful fund-raising teams. And, thanks to the sacrifice of those earliest gay participants, more people now conquer their run or walk knowing only of someone who has lived with but not died from AIDS. —Craig Thompson, AIDS Project Los Angeles executive director

BECAUSE TODAY’S SOLDIERS AREN’T AS BIGOTED AS SOME OF THEIR PAST AND PRESENT LEADERS
New recruits aren’t born in a vacuum. They’re shaped by popular culture, evolving social mores, and legal precedents that have slowly abolished government-sanctioned discrimination. “Today, nearly everyone who goes into the military is familiar with and comfortable around gays and lesbians,” says Alex Nicholson, executive director of Servicemembers United. “It’s more common for new ­recruits from the Southeast, for example, to have never been exposed to Mormons than to have never been exposed to open gays and lesbians. It’s just simply not an issue for them anymore personally.”

BECAUSE WE LIKE ASSERTIVE MEN
Thanks to his frequent and rousing statements for marriage equality, MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann is our silver fox of choice.Maddow Meet The Press x390 (Screen grab) | Advocate.com

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BECAUSE SOME OF THE BEST NEW THEATER FEATURES SMART STORIES ABOUT US (IN ADDITION TO BEING WRITTEN BY, DIRECTED BY, AND STARRING US)

History, intellect, and sex—all rarely mix so tantalizingly as in The Temperamentals (1). The new play by Jon Marans, ­directed by Jonathan Silverstein, stars Ugly Betty’s Michael Urie as one of the inner circle that devised the early gay rights group the Mattachine Society.

Though it’s not a gay show, Fela! (2) is directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones, and it’s easily the most celebrated musical on Broadway. The New York Times has spilled a river of ink over the production about the life of titular ­Nigerian political maverick and musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti.

The Pride (3), which went to New York City after a run in London, was written by Alexi Kaye Campbell, directed by Joe Mantello, and starred Ben Whishaw (all are gay) as well as Hugh Dancy and ­Andrea Riseborough. The three actors slipped seamlessly between London in 1958 and 2008, with gay love affairs torturing a trio of intimates.

Can anyone imagine a movie more suited to a stage adaptation than Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (4)? After runs in Sydney, Melbourne, and London, the boas and bell-bottoms are headed stateside in 2011. Just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock.

The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism With a Key to Scripture, by Angels in America playwright Tony Kushner, tackles the labor movement, sex, and radicalism and will be presented at New York’s Public Theater in the spring of 2011. Angels, meanwhile, will have its first New York revival this fall.

Not that Next Fall, a much-lauded intimate family drama, needed Elton John and David Furnish as producers, but the star power could hardly hurt. Written by Geoffrey Nauffts and directed by Sheryl Kaller, the Broadway play stars Patrick Breen and Patrick Heusinger as a gay couple grappling with cosmic-size questions and ­human-size heartache. 









1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE SHE’S SARAH, NOT SO PLAIN
Comedy Central has partnered with Logo to keep The Sarah Silverman Program on the air. With Silverman’s lesbian cop buddy and her overweight, redheaded, gay stoner-couple neighbors, TV’s funniest show is also one of the most inclusive. Her on-screen naïf act cracks us up, while her commitment to not marry until we all can makes this Sarah one of our favorite allies.

BECAUSE THE TRUTH MATTERS
When members of the media spread falsehoods about LGBT people and their concerns—oh, like saying that a presidential appointee is a NAMBLA supporter—Media Matters for America is on the case. Last year the organization put great effort into debunking bizarre assertions by right-wing outlets about Kevin Jennings, the gay man named by President Obama to oversee safe-schools programs in the Department of Education. “It was an enormous amount of work, but it was rewarding,” says Media Matters president Eric Burns. “We forced Fox Nation to correct themselves, which almost never happens.” Media Matters chief exec David Brock, a gay journalist who once worked in the conservative media world, founded the group in 2004 to correct misinformation that furthers the right’s agenda. Burns, who is straight, is glad LGBT issues are part of Media Matters’ mission: “I see this as the civil rights struggle of my generation. It’s something I’m very proud to work on.”

BECAUSE WHEN YOU’VE GOT TO GO, YOU’VE GOT TO GO
One University of Kansas student has a vision, and he’s putting action to words. Matthew Blankers, a trans male, aims for the university to have at least one gender-neutral, handicapped-accessible bathroom in every building. Blankers helped conduct a survey of campus buildings that already provide such facilities and also hopes to make a map available to students.

BECAUSE THE TRUTH MATTERS

When members of the media spread falsehoods about LGBT people and their concerns—oh, like saying that a presidential appointee is a NAMBLA supporter—Media Matters for America is on the case. Last year the organization put great effort into debunking bizarre assertions by right-wing outlets about Kevin Jennings, the gay man named by President Obama to oversee safe-schools programs in the Department of Education. “It was an enormous amount of work, but it was rewarding,” says Media Matters president Eric Burns. “We forced Fox Nation to correct themselves, which almost never happens.” Media Matters chief exec David Brock, a gay journalist who once worked in the conservative media world, founded the group in 2004 to correct misinformation that furthers the right’s agenda. Burns, who is straight, is glad LGBT issues are part of Media Matters’ mission: “I see this as the civil rights struggle of my generation. It’s something I’m very proud to work on.”SARAH SILVERMAN X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

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BECAUSE IT’S GREAT TO SPEAK TRUE
We’ve always adored Anna Paquin, but fantasies of the sexy star of True Blood have a new specificity now that she’s come out as bisexual in a public-service announcement for Cyndi Lauper’s “Give a Damn” campaign.

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE WE HAVE THE TRUE BIG TENT
The fact that there are
enough diverse worldviews to necessitate the existence of two gay
Republican organizations—the Log Cabin Republicans as well as the
year-old group GOProud—is undoubtedly a sign of progress. But a gay Tea
Party group (pinkies out?) may be going just a bit too far.

BECAUSE
THERE ARE CHILDREN WHO TAKE THE PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE SERIOUSLY

Arkansas
student Will Phillips became an overnight gay rights icon when, at age
10, he refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance until gays and
lesbians achieve full equality. This year he accepted the GLAAD Award
for Outstanding TV Journalism Segment for his appearance with his dad on
CNN.

BECAUSE MARRIAGE EQUALITY IS NOT JUST FAIR, IT’S
FRUITFUL

If you can’t win lawmakers over with real stories about
actual same-sex couples and the discrimination and hardships they face
when they can’t marry, then the purse strings argument should carry some
weight. Just look at the dollars and cents. Legalizing gay marriage has
been projected to boost local economies with millions in dollars of tax
revenue. Marriage license fees, tourism, and the costs of an actual
wedding (photographers, venues, caterers) are just the tip of the
economic iceberg. If New Jersey were to bump up their civil unions to
marriage, it would boost the economy by over $200 million and bring
1,400 new jobs to the state, according to the Williams Institute, a
public-policy think tank in California. Want one more way to get out of
our financial morass? Legalize marriage. COINS XLRG( ISTOCK.COM) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE HE’S TAKING IT TO THE MAT
Hudson Taylor, a straight wrestler for the University of Maryland who wore a ­Human Rights Campaign sticker on his ear covers during matches, finished fourth in the national championships. Congratulations!

BECAUSE CASTER SEMENYA REFUSES TO HANG UP HER RUNNING SHOES
There’s no Achilles’ heel on this South African sprinter. After unending international speculation about her gender—leaving little semblance of privacy to the 19-year-old phenom—Caster Semenya announced her return to competitive racing in March. Let the girl run! HUDSON TAYLOR XLRG (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE JARED POLIS IS A TRAILBLAZER
As Congressman Jared Polis’s partner, I have no problems listing reasons why he’s a hero. But I’m not alone in thinking that he is. All of us have reasons to be thankful that he is our representative. Every day I watch him leave for work, knowing that he helps people achieve their dreams. Across the country his place in the sometimes shiftless institution of Congress serves as a potent symbol of the hope that others will follow in his footsteps. Freedom remains our most precious heritage, and for those of us in the gay community, especially, it is a vestment to be worn with pride that in the weeks and months leading to his election, Jared’s constituents looked not to his sexual orientation for the proof of his mettle but to his integrity and vision. In a year characterized by boldness, Jared’s 2008 election proved yet again that Washington was ready for change. One would think it a staggering responsibility to make America better for all people, yet he looks forward to the work every single day. I am so very proud of him for sacrificing comfort in the name of justice. Many of us know that democracy is a rough sea and that the people’s work is at times thankless. It takes courage like Jared’s to think not of the roadblocks that lie in our way but of the opportunities that are ours to seize. —Marlon Reis, partner of U.S. representative Jared Polis of Colorado

BECAUSE HOSPITALS HAVE LITTLE CHOICE BUT TO RECOGNIZE OUR FAMILIES
President Obama signed a memo in April requiring all hospitals that receive federal funding to give patients the right to determine who can visit them and who can make medical decisions for them if they are unable to. He said, “Uniquely affected are gay and lesbian Americans who are often barred from the bedsides of the partners with whom they may have spent decades of their lives—unable to be there for the person they love, and unable to act as a legal surrogate if their partner is incapacitated.”

BECAUSE WE’RE STILL FIGHTING TO ERADICATE AIDS
For the advances that have been made in HIV treatment, we can not only thank the scientists who formulated the drugs but also take pride in the fact that so many of us have participated in the clinical trials that tested them. “It’s really the consumers who are volunteering for these trials that moves things forward,” says Brian Risley, manager of the treatment education program at AIDS Project Los Angeles. What’s more, while the drug combos have undoubtedly been successful, there are new treatments awaiting research and trial, including new drug-delivery systems, such as a once-a-month, extended-release injection or a skin patch, Risley says. A new vaccine study is starting up soon, he adds, and some microbicides using antiretrovirals are promising. And then there’s last year’s University of California, Los Angeles, study, in which scientists were able to engineer human blood stem cells to attack and eradicate HIV. While this study used mice, and human testing is some time off, UCLA researcher Scott Kitchen has said he was “very hopeful” the findings would lead to a vaccine. “Ongoing stem-cell research is very promising,” Risley says. “All these just produce hope.”JARED POLIS MARTIN REIS X390 (FAIR) | ADVOCATE.COM BECAUSE SOMETIMES IT’S FUN TO FRIGHTEN THEM
Adam Lambert could single-handedly topple Rupert Murdoch’s Fox media empire and destroy the moral fiber of the country with a repeat of his American Music Awards onstage simulated fellatio, or so it seemed when American Idol was preparing for a return performance by its most successful gay graduate. Only a three-second tape delay could prevent Western civilization from descending into chaos. Good work, Idol. The globe is safe once again.

BECAUSE WE AREN’T TRYING TO PREVENT ANYONE FROM GETTING MARRIED

You don’t see us trying to put hetero marriages to a popular vote.

BECAUSE WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO SHARE WEDDING STRESS TOO
There’s been a number of wedding blogs that have included token gay couples, but they’ve got nothing on the all-gay all the time EquallyWed.com. Who says the pressure of hiring the perfect caterer and band and finding the perfect venue and the appropriate table for all your exes should be limited to heteros?ADAM LAMBERT XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE WE CAN TURN A PHRASE
The new “Are you a friend of Dorothy?” is “Why don’t you have a show on Bravo?”

BECAUSE OUR OPPONENTS ARE COMICAL
Former Walker, Texas Ranger Chuck Norris decries hate-crimes laws as a danger to “conservative free speech” and simultaneously hawks his limited-edition Chuck Norris Tribute Revolver.

Carrie Prejean, Miss Opposite Marriage herself, not only has tarnished her right-wing poster-girl image with sex tapes but has also gotten involved in nasty disputes over alleged failure to fulfill her Miss California USA obligations or pay her PR firm. Plus she couldn’t stand the heat of an interview with…Larry King?

If the antigay members of the far right want Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann as their poster girl, let ’em have her. Crazy can’t hide for long.

Even the odious KKK has distanced itself from the Westboro Baptist Church, posting a statement on its website: “The Ku Klux Klan, LLC, has not or EVER will have ANY connection with the ‘Westboro Baptist Church.’ We absolutely repudiate their activities.” We’re not sure what, specifically, the KKK objected to.

BECAUSE SOME DRAG QUEENS CAN ACTUALLY SING
Think your channeling Cher from her “Half Breed” era on karaoke night means you have talent? You don’t hold a candle to Donna Sachet, who made history as the first drag queen to belt out (not lip-synch!) the national anthem at a Major League Baseball game; Jackie Beat, who continues to win over fans with her sold-out stage shows and concert tours; or Porsche, Wanda Sykes’s talk-show sidekick, whom Sykes recruited after seeing her Fire Island shows.JUDY GARLAND XLRG | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE GLAM IS GOOD
Scissor Sisters will release a new album
in June, one they describe as “supersexual and sleazy.” We cannot wait!SCISSOR  SISTERS COVER XLRG | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE WE ARE GOING TO PROM, DAMN IT
Constance McMillen took a stand for equal rights when she sued her Mississippi school for forbidding her to take her girlfriend to prom. Derrick Martin was more successful; after balking at first, officials at his Cochran, Ga., school are allowing him to take his boyfriend.

BECAUSE WE CARE, SO WHAT?
Whether it’s on The View or her eponymous talk show, Joy Behar continues to kick ass on issues that matter to us.

BECAUSE NOT EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE TOLD HOW TO DRESS
Barbie and G.I. Joe don’t resonate in Samoa like they do on this side of the Pacific. In fact, the two tiny islands and their 180,000 people don’t buy into rigid gender roles, instead celebrating gender diversity and their fa’afafine culture of ­biological men living as women. For generations, Samoan boys born into families with few or no girls were tasked with performing “female” ­duties their mothers needed ­assistance with, such as cooking and cleaning; they also often were dressed as girls and called fa’afafine (literally meaning “in the manner of a woman”). The culture, sometimes referred to as the “third gender,” has now evolved to a point where most Samoan boys who express an interest in acting as women are recognized and accepted as fa’afafine. As Radio Australia described it, “[Effeminate boys] will usually be neither encouraged nor discouraged to dress and behave as women. They will simply be allowed to follow the path they choose.”

BECAUSE WE LOOK GOOD IN PICTURES
Wait, you want to show off your iPhone and your junk? There’s an app—er—a site for that! It’s GuysWithiPhones.com. GLAAD 2010 CONSTANCE MCMILLEN X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

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 BECAUSE BIG GIRLS GOTTA REPRESENT
How did a size 28 lesbian from Arkansas become an It girl, fawned over by fashion arbiters such as the notoriously sizeist Karl Lagerfeld and the late Alexander McQueen (who rarely designed a garment for any woman a few inches larger than a size 0)? If you have to ask, you’ve never seen Beth Ditto perform live. Gossip’s lead singer is set for a summer rocking the latest incarnation of Sarah McLachlan’s Lilith Fair. And thank heaven for that: The show could use a little punk rock and ball sweat—both of which Ditto is more than capable of delivering.

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BECAUSE WE’VE GOT MIKE MULLEN ON OUR SIDE
Enactment of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was sealed in 1993, when Gen. Colin Powell, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to testify in favor of the antigay policy. In turn, DADT’s eventual undoing would be locked in 17 years later when Powell’s contemporary counterpart, Adm. Mike Mullen, delivered a stoic but resolute rebuke of the military ban before the very same committee. “Mr. Chairman, speaking for myself and myself only, it is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do,” Mullen said. “No matter how I look at the issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens. For me, personally, it comes down to integrity—theirs as individuals and ours as an institution.” Since Mullen’s pronouncement, a string of retired and active-duty officers have weighed in for equality. Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno, the commanding officer in Iraq, said “everyone should be allowed to serve, as long as we’re still able to fight our wars” and retired major general Paul Eaton observed, “Discrimination based on sexual orientation is inappropriate in our society—it is inappropriate to ask somebody to lie if he wants to keep his job as a solider, airman, seaman, or marine.” Even Powell himself now says times have changed and that he supports the direction taken by Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates—a 180-degree turn that certainly portends the end of the military’s closet.

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BECAUSE WE APPRECIATE GOOD LIGHTING
It’s hard to call Exterface.com’s images smut (even if they do) when the taut bodies are depicted in such a gauzy, dreamy, and halcyon manner. The artistic descendants (right down to the ampersand) of Pierre & Gilles, Stephane & Julien have figured out how to make pink unicorns swoon-worthy.

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BECAUSE WE’RE STILL FIGHTING OVER WORDS
While some embrace queer as more specific than gay, more political than homosexual, or less clinical than LGBT, others blanch at the moniker, viewing it as a not fully reclaimed slur that too many still use against us (William F. Buckley presumably wasn’t thinking nice things when he used the word to describe Gore Vidal).

Fashion designer Christian Siriano (pictured) and the CW’s High Society reality cast members got into hot water after using “tranny,” but no one made a fuss when Drew Barrymore said the same word at the GLAAD Awards referring to “the tranny on the corner” in the West Hollywood neighborhood where she grew up. Truth be told, GLAAD officials would have a lot more time on their hands if the word were retired altogether, and yet the film Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives uses it with abandon—but for political or comic effect?

Ann Coulter caught flak when she uttered “faggot” as an insult to John Edwards; Jerry Lewis was forced to apologize after saying the same word on a telethon; and Isaiah Washington lost his TV job over it. While faggot (and fag) is still undeniably harmful on the playground, some people (Dan Savage and many self-­described “hags”) use it as a badge of defiant honor. Yet the word seems squarely entrenched in the we-can-use-it-but-haters-can’t category. So if you use it, we’ll assume you’re one too. 




BECAUSE STANDING UP FOR EQUALITY SHOULDN’T COST YOU
When Portland,
Maine’s Preble Street Homeless Voices for Justice publicly supported gay
marriage during a 2009 referendum, the Roman Catholic diocese of
Portland, a major funding source for the agency that provides assistance
to the poor, yanked its grant money. In April, Gov. John Baldacci, a
same-sex marriage supporter and practicing Catholic, hosted a spaghetti
dinner fundraiser to help replace some of the money lost, and more than
900 residents of Maine attended. Catholics for Marriage Equality also
will help offset the $17,400 in grants rescinded this year and the
estimated $30,000 for 2011.

BECAUSE WE LOVE TO CAMP
For gay
people in Wyoming, camp isn’t just a feature of drag shows and old
movies; it’s an activity you do in the great outdoors to celebrate
pride. The statewide pride event Rendezvous is a five-day campout in
Medicine Bow National Forest, happening August 4–8 this year, with ample
entertainment options amid the natural beauty and campfire communion. 



CHRISTIAN SIRIANO X390 | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE AN ALLY MAY BE HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT
The Ohio-based gay newspaper Outlook: Columbus snagged an interview in March with Jim Tressel (pictured), the high-profile football coach at Ohio State University. When writer ­Michael Daniels brought up the reluctance of collegiate athletes to come out, Tressel said it was the duty of coaches and professors to create a tolerant atmosphere: “Whatever a young man feels called to express, I hope we will help him do it in a supportive environment. Everybody is important, and maturity is learning to find and appreciate those differences in others.” JIM TRESSEL XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE IF DAN CHOI IS IMPATIENT, YOU SHOULD BE TOO
If handcuffing yourself to the White House fence (twice!) was all it took to end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a battalion of discharged troops would have already done so. But every civil rights cause needs a symbol—a bus seat, a monk engulfed in flames, a protest chorus of “Si, se puede!”—so thanks to Lt. Dan Choi for the much needed visual.

BECAUSE WE'RE GREENER
Gay people are way more concerned with the destruction of the planet than our straight neighbors, who don’t recycle or know squat about composting. According to a Harris Interactive poll in October, not only are we more concerned, but 21% of LGBT people would consider themselves environmentalists, as opposed to 13% of straight people. Furthermore, 66% of gay people, opposed to 56% of nongays, agree that it’s important to support environmental causes. Bob Witeck, chief executive of Witeck-Combs Communication, thinks the difference reflects that gay people are simply less cynical about the state of the environment. It also shows our strong sense of community, he says: “Although LGBT households are not parenting as frequently as our nongay counterparts, 51% say they are concerned about the planet we are leaving behind for future generations—compared with 42% of heterosexual adults.”

BECAUSE IT’S A MIRACLE (TO BORROW FROM A CULTURE CLUB HIT)
Once bitchy rivals, out pop singers Boy George and George Michael have stopped the name-calling, ended their quarter-century–long feud, and seem to like each other again.

BECAUSE WE’VE EARNED IT
The chairman of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s gay-straight alliance was named a prestigious Harry S. Truman scholar this year. Logan Talbot, a 20-year-old junior, joins Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin, and George Stephanopoulos as a recipient of the hard-as-hell-to-get federal scholarship.

BECAUSE OUR STORIES ARE WORTH KEEPING
The Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition, which is run primarily by high school and college-age people, is ­recording gay history. Members are gathering stories from LGBTQ youths, allies, parents, and others to capture the ­experience of gay Mississippians. The coalition plans to use the stories, collected through its website, to help policy makers understand what gay youths in the state go through.

BECAUSE MOCKERY IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY

And no one ridicules antigay talking heads like The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart. DAN CHOI WHITE HOUSE X390 (KERRY ELEVELD) | ADVOCATE.COM

LADY GAGA X560 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM 

BECAUSE WE’RE ALL HER LITTLE MONSTERS
And Lady Gaga has proclaimed she wants to turn the whole world gay.

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE WE’RE ALL FLY GIRLS
Everyone is a director and choreographer. There are now more queer odes to “Single Ladies,” “Telephone,” and “She Wolf” online than you can shake your House of Deréon–covered booty at.

BECAUSE RHODE ISLAND IS FOR LOVERS
In 2006 a Massachusetts s­uperior court justice ruled that same-sex couples from Rhode Island could go to the state to get married. The following year, Rhode Island attorney general Patrick Lynch said his state would recognize those marriages.

BECAUSE PRIDE CHANGES PEOPLE’S LIVES

A testament to the growing presence of gay life in North Dakota, LGBT activist Stacie Loegering, the mastermind of Fargo’s pride celebration, was honored by the Fargo Human Relations Commission on Martin Luther King Jr. Day—alongside a local rabbi who assists cancer patients and homeless people and teens who aided Sudanese refugees.

BECAUSE WE’RE A LITTLE BIT COUNTRY

Nashville may be the country music capital and the buckle on the Bible Belt, but it’s also gay-friendly enough to host an LGBT news program, Out & About Today, airing regularly on News Channel 5. HE WOLF X390 (GRAB) | ADVOCATE.COM

SPARTACUS BLOOD AND SAND XSLIDE ( PUB) ADVOCATE.COM

BECAUSE WE LIKE MOVIES ABOUT GLADIATORS, JOEY
If you’re complaining about the historical accuracy of Spartacus: Blood and Sand, you’re completely missing the point. The sweaty, sex-obsessed sword-and-sandals series on cable network Starz features enough glistening, chiseled, and usually nude bodies to make the cast of 300 turn green with envy. Star (and lesbian icon) Lucy Lawless’s return to scanty period garb is just icing.

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE WE MAKE THE CLOTHES THE FIRST LADY WANTS TO WEAR
Designer Jason Wu (pictured) has dressed everyone from January Jones to RuPaul, but he crossed over to the big leagues when first lady Michelle Obama wore his floor-length white chiffon gown to the inaugural balls in January 2009. She later wore one of Wu’s dresses on the cover of Vogue and a Wu coat to meet Queen Elizabeth II.

BECAUSE HATE-CRIMES PROTECTIONS ARE THE LAW OF THE LAND
It was slow in coming—12 years to be exact—but the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act was finally signed into law in October, making it the first major piece of federal legislation passed to protect LGBT Americans. Sen. Edward Kennedy first introduced a bill of this kind in 1997, one year before Matthew Shepard would die at the hands of hate-filled killers. At the signing, Vicki Kennedy said of her late husband, “I think he’s smiling right now.” When Matthew’s mother, Judy Shepard, was asked what the law’s passage meant to her, she didn’t hesitate: “Everything.”

BECAUSE WE’RE PAYING ATTENTION WHEN YOU SPOUT HOMOPHOBIA, AND WE’VE GOT THE TAPES TO PROVE IT
The staff of The Perspective, the College of New Jersey’s student newspaper, got former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to backtrack on his homophobia. After a wide-ranging interview with the editors, several national news organizations picked up the article, in which Huckabee blasted Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele and compared gay marriage to condoning incest. When Huckabee claimed that the students sensationalized his quotes and took him out of context, The Perspective posted the audio recording of the interview online. JASON WU X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

BECAUSE WE’RE HELPING TO MAKE SURE EVERYONE HAS EQUAL TREATMENT
“Gay sex is morally good,” lesbian law professor Chai Feldblum said as part of a 2004 speech she gave at the University of California, Los Angeles, on the societal benefits of intimacy. Feldblum, after being nominated by President Obama, was sworn in this year as one of five commissioners to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission—the group that enforces federal laws prohibiting discrimination based on traits such as race and religion. The far right, and some Republican senators, tried to use the aforementioned aside to sink Feldblum’s nomination, but this woman was simply too good at her job for them to get their way. Educated at Harvard, Feldblum helped draft 1990’s landmark Americans With Disabilities Act, assisted in forming the language of the proposed Employment Non-Discrimination Act, and has taught law for the past 19 years at Georgetown University. Feldblum’s appointment suggests ability now trumps sexual orientation, at least in Obama’s Washington. If right-wingers are frightened about ENDA, which would prohibit workplace discrimination against LGBT people, they have reason to fear Feldblum. Should the legislation be passed, Feldblum will help write the guidelines of its implementation.

BECAUSE WE’RE THE BEST PART OF THE SUPER BOWL
Who else but
Ross Matthews could get a roomful of uniformed athletes about to take
the field for the biggest game of the year to channel their inner gay
without apology?

BECAUSE BILL MAHER MAKES RULES WE CAN LIVE BY
Our favorite from the Real Time host: “Everyone deserves equal rights. That’s why they’re called ‘equal’ and ‘rights.’ ”



Chai Feldblum x390 (wiki) | Advocate.com BECAUSE SOMETIMES WE LIKE SCRUFF
The Gay Boys With Beards fan page on Facebook makes your bear/cub/hirsute hipster stalking just that much easier.GAY BOYS WITH BEARDS XLRG (ISTOCK) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE TRANS ACTRESSES ARE WORKING IN HOLLYWOOD
“It’s not such a bad word anymore, the t word,” says Candis Cayne, one of several transgender actresses enjoying a heightened profile in Hollywood these days. Cayne’s work on ABC’s Dirty Sexy Money played a major part in raising that profile, and since the end of that gig she’s been staying busy: Her schedule this year includes a weekly music and comedy show at the popular Abbey club in West Hollywood, a guest shot on Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, and being grand marshal of the Vancouver gay pride parade.

Meanwhile, Calpernia Addams, of Transamerican Love Story fame, has the indie film A Woman’s Picture due out this year and is producing music videos and other projects with business partner Andrea James. Addams adds that transgender actresses have been in Hollywood for years, such as Bond girl Caroline Cossey and Aleshia Brevard, who appeared alongside Don Knotts and Dean Martin. “We all stand on the shoulders of the people who came before us,” Addams says.

Alexandra Billings, noted for a prominent guest role on Grey’s Anatomy, is in the horror film 4.5: A Love Story, which is drawing interest from distributors, and she continues to teach acting and appear onstage. Trans actresses still face some barriers—most of the roles they get cast in are trans parts, and while they are glad to raise visibility, they long to simply be cast as any other actress would be. “That’s sort of the next glass ceiling,” Billings says. One exception is theater; Billings, a veteran of Chicago and New York stages, played Princess Puffer in a Los Angeles production of The Mystery of Edwin Drood and will play Amanda in Noël Coward’s Private Lives in L.A. this fall. She will also do cabaret, as herself, at Feinstein’s in Manhattan in August.CANDIS CAYNE XLRG (PUB) | ADVOCATE.COM

KISH X560 (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM

BECAUSE WE HAVE A STRONG PRESENCE ON DAYTIME…
Actress Eden Riegel may have left All My Children, but producers say they plan to search for the right actress and ­recast the role of Erica Kane’s lesbian daughter, Bianca Montgomery.

…AND WHEN WE DON’T, WE TAKE ACTION
One Life to Live has written off gay couple “Kish” (pictured above)—Brett Claywell as Kyle and Scott Evans as Fish—prompting a mini revolution among soap fans to bring them back. Producers say they have no plans to continue the story at this time but leave the door open for the couple’s return.

A similar protest against the cancellation of Guiding Light led actress Crystal Chappell to create Venice, a Web series for herself and the actress playing her lover on the show, Jessica Leccia.





1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE GAY WEDDINGS ARE FAR LESS LIKELY TO FEATURE BAD MUSIC
You know the feeling: sitting in a stifling church, suffering through the Canon in D major, and searching for an exit as the bride slouches toward the altar. Gays, thankfully, know to avoid cliché music and replace it with something tasteful. Or at least something ironic (“Bad Romance,” for example).

BECAUSE WE LOVE THE SOUNDS OF WEDDING BELLS
We loved Jane Lynch in Best in Show, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and Julie & Julia, and we’re pleased as punch that our favorite tough-talking high school tyrant, Sue Sylvester, will be walking down the aisle soon. Lynch and Lara Embry, who met at a National Center for Lesbian Rights event, are engaged to be married.

Terrence McNally, 71, whose play Corpus Christi continues to wreak havoc across the country, wed his partner, Tom Kirdahy, 46, in Washington, D.C. in April. Actress Tyne Daly was present as a witness to the ceremony.

BECAUSE THE GLASS IS HALF FULL
Do gays have more fun because we’re more optimistic or are we more optimistic because they have more fun? We don’t know, but a nationwide survey showed that one in four LGBT adults believe the job market will improve within the next six months, compared with just 12% of heterosexual adults. Hey, they don’t call us gay for nothing.

BECAUSE U. MICH. IS MAKING HISTORY
For the first time in its history the 40,000-student strong University of Michigan has elected an openly gay student body president, Chris Armstrong.LESBIAN WEDDING SAME SEX MARRIAGE X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE RUFUS RESPONDS WITH LOVE
Although 50 Cent once told Playboy, “I ain’t into faggots,” Rufus Wainwright, rather than fume, extended an invitation to the rapper in a recent Details interview: “I love, love 50 Cent. I think he’s just the sexiest, and a brilliant writer. And I know he’s gay.… That cute little voice of his. It’s OK, 50 Cent. Feel free to call me anytime. My boyfriend and I are experts. You can come over for dinner. And maybe dessert.” Perhaps they’ll make beautiful music together.RUFUS WAINWRIGHT 50 CENT X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE TWO YEARS AFTER LAUNCHING ITS IN AMERICA SERIES CNN IS TURNING TO GAYS IN AMERICA
Soledad O’Brien knew she and her CNN colleagues were onto something after finishing Black in America. The documentary’s premiere coincided not only with Barack Obama’s decision to run for president but with a ground shift in Americans’ thoughts about race. Whether frightened or invigorated by the changes in front of us, it seemed ­everyone was hungry for more information about a group of people whose stories had gone underreported for too long.

But after CNN followed that documentary with another four hours of Black in America and then four hours of Latino in America, it was clear that no program could be as comprehensive as those titles suggested. “People would stop me on the street and ask, ‘What about black people in Africa?’ ‘What about Pakistani people in America?’ ” O’Brien says. “My own mother [who is Cuban-born] said, ‘You weren’t interested in Caribbean black people? Hmm.’ ”

So O’Brien and her team sharpened their focus to one-hour documentaries. Their latest, In America: Gary and Tony Have a Baby, starts with a New York City gay couple’s decision to have a child through surrogacy and then follows the couple until their son, Nicholas, is 6 months old. The show premieres June 24.

When Tony Brown and Gary Spino, both 47 and ­together for 20 years, were first approached by CNN producer Rose Arce about participating in the documentary, they figured they’d be two of many people featured in Gay in America. It was only ­after agreeing to the proposal that they realized they were the program. “That was both frightening and exciting,” Spino says.

At the same time, the project felt like a logical extension of the couple’s longtime activism. “Our work has centered around telling people’s stories,” says Brown, who is the executive director of the Wedding Party, a group that throws high-profile same-sex ceremonies to raise awareness around marriage equality. “When it comes down to it, this is really just about telling our story.”

Although exposing yourself to the world’s scrutiny can’t come without its share of concerns, neither man seems particularly shy. Upon answering the phone for this interview, Spino explains that he and Brown are cleaning up from Nicholas’s “first major, major vomit.” The men are so open that the documentary doesn’t only follow their three-person family, it also includes their egg donor and the surrogate, whom they call their “carrier.”

One of the biggest ironies in Brown and Spino’s story is that although they can both be Nicholas’s legal parent, they can’t become legal partners to each other. It’s a twist that strikes a particular chord with O’Brien, whose parents weren’t able to marry in Baltimore in 1958 because her Australian-born father is white and her mother is black. “They had to drive to D.C. to get hitched and then came back to Baltimore and live illegally,” she says. O’Brien, who is 43, and all five of her brothers and sisters were born before 1967, when the Supreme Court overturned all state bans on mixed-race marriage.

“I’m multicultural,” O’Brien says. “I have my toes in a lot of different pools. It’s been really interesting to cover these types of stories at the same time we have a black president, at the same time we’ll have changing demographics in the census.”

Then, perhaps anticipating questions she’ll get on the sidewalk after Brown and Spino’s story airs, she adds, “No one is going to claim that Gary and Tony represent every single person in the gay community. But we really get into their history and into their heads. They talk about their childhoods, about their struggles, about coming out, and about building a family. It’s compelling. These two guys are great stories.”SOLEDAD O'BRIEN XLRG (Getty) | Advocate.com

BECAUSE WE LIKE BANGS
LesbiansWhoLook-
LikeJustinBieber-
.Tumblr.com is an equal-opportunity proponent of floppy fringe on ladies who love ladies as well as pop stars who just look like lady-loving ladies.


BECAUSE WE'RE LEARNING TO RESPECT OUR ELDERS
Rep. Tammy Baldwin sees that gay issues extend beyond marriage and the military. She was the keynote speaker at an April panel discussion on understanding and meeting the needs of LGBT elders. It’s high time we do so. According to a March report titled “Improving the Lives of LGBT Older Adults,” 80% of long-term care in the United States is provided by family members, yet gay seniors are more likely to be single, childless, and ­estranged from biological family members.

BECAUSE THE KID IS HOT TONIGHT
We’ve always appreciated Dan Savage’s unbridled tell-it-like-he-sees-it (decidedly not kid-friendly) syndicated advice column. Theater buffs have gotten a taste of savage love since the musical version of his book The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant (shortened to the more marquee-friendly The Kid) hit the boards in New York this spring, starring hunky out actor Christopher Sieber.

BECAUSE WE MAKE THE BEST DIRECTORS
Lee Daniels made a star out of Gabourey Sidibe, an Academy Award winner out of Mo’Nique, and an actress out of Mariah Carey in Precious. Next up? Daniels will tackle Selma, a civil rights drama about the life of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. 






JUSTIN BIEBER XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE THE TIDE IS TURNING IN ALL SORTS OF PLACES
Voters in usually conservative North Florida have elected Craig Lowe as Gainesville’s first openly gay mayor, one of fewer than 30 in the country.

Illinois might still be trying to get a civil-union law on the books, but one thing activists there succeeded at this year was killing both a house and senate measure that would have constitutionally banned same-sex marriage. “It didn’t even get to a hearing,” says Rick Garcia of Equality Illinois.

Jamaica celebrated its first gay pride (officially the Walk for Tolerance) in Montego Bay earlier this year, and though the island nation has been the site of many a gay bashing in the past, not a single instance of violence was reported.

BECAUSE WE CAN SEND A MESSAGE
Gay activists spent about $100,000 (much of which came through FightbackPAC.com, which has Cynthia Nixon as a spokeswoman) to defeat a crooked, woman-abusing New York state senator, Hiram Monserrate, who was one of eight Democrats to vote against marriage equality in the Empire State last year. Wonder what the remaining seven are thinking?

BECAUSE EVEN OUR PORN STARS ARE ACTIVISTS
Michael Lucas has used the stardom porn gave him as a platform to speak out against drugs, unsafe sex, child exploitation, anti-Semitism, religious oppression of gays, and a host of other social problems.CRAIG LOWE X390 (OFFICIAL) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE GEORGE W. BUSH IS NO LONGER THE MOST-TALKED-ABOUT ELECTED OFFICIAL FROM TEXAS
Annise Parker made history when the lesbian politician was elected as Houston’s mayor. ANISE PARKER X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE WE HAD THE MOST MEMORABLE OSCAR MOMENTS
Forget what happened after Sandra Bullock won the Oscar for Best Actress. It’s what she said during her acceptance speech that really mattered to the gay men and women watching. Bullock thanked her late mother for teaching her that there is “no race, no religion, no class system, no color…no sexual orientation that makes us better than anyone else.” And then she noted that Meryl Streep is an excellent kisser. It was a major moment for inclusiveness, and the icing on the cake for what had already been a very gay evening. Also that night, Neil Patrick Harris wowed the crowd in a song-and-dance number choreographed by Adam Shankman, but not until after documentary and drama collided when director Roger Ross Williams skipped up to the stage to accept the Academy Award for Best Documentary for Music by Prudence; he was promptly upstaged when a disgruntled former producer from the film, Elinor Burkett, grabbed the mike during his acceptance speech.NEIL PATRICK HARRIS XLRG (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE STEPHEN COLBERT HAS AMERICA BY THE BALLOTS
The host of the fake news show The Colbert Report has a lifetime of props for roasting President Bush at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, not to mention mocking lawmakers’ bigotry by ironically endorsing it.

BECAUSE A MAJORITY OF PEOPLE THINK DADT HAS SEEN ITS DAY
According to a February poll by Quinnipiac University, 57% of Americans support dropping “don’t ask, don’t tell” like a bad habit.

BECAUSE WE’VE GOT FRIENDS IN UNEXPECTED PLACES
As the young LGBT activists on the 2010 Soulforce Q Equality Ride traveled to Goshen, Ind., they broke bread with some unlikely hosts. The Saturday Assembly Mennonite Church hosted a potluck dinner and conversation.

BECAUSE WE FIGHT TO MAKE SURE OUR FILMS ARE SEEN
While in years past some attempts to hold the event were shut down by police, the Beijing Queer Film Festival went off without a hitch in July 2009. We’re awaiting announcement of the 2010 festival.STEPHEN COLBERT X390 (GRAB) | ADVOCATE.COM BECAUSE SHE IS THE BEST PERSON FOR THE JOB
Winnie Stachelberg specializes in a sort of modest, self-deprecating humor that belies her relative influence. As senior vice president for external communications at the Center for American Progress—the Washington think tank that spearheaded the Obama transition team—she was privy to the very behind-the-scenes conversations that ultimately shaped the administration. “But that’s not unusual for those like me who are…” she pauses, summoning the word, “experienced, I guess, is a nicer way of saying old.” Old may be a stretch; experienced is not. The 45-year-old New York native has spent the better part of her past 25 years in D.C. after attending Georgetown University. She worked in the Office of Management and Budget before spending nearly 12 years at the Human Rights Campaign. The varied roles are an advantage in her eyes. “It’s really important to have a broader context into which to put these issues,” she says, “so that when you’re going to talk with the Pentagon or the administration about ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ you have a fuller comprehension of what’s happening.” Stachelberg has attended her share of meetings between LGBT advocates and White House officials and admits she’s sometimes frustrated by the slow pace of advancement. But she remains optimistic: “We’ve built a mutual trust and respect that I believe creates a foundation on which we can build more progress over the next several years.”

BECAUSE THE CAR COMPANY WE LOVE IS DOING WELL
One auto manufacturer that didn’t see a drop in sales last year but rather a 10% increase was Subaru, which perhaps not so coincidentally has courted the gay and lesbian market in ads and promotions for nearly 20 years.

BECAUSE JOAN RIVERS IS STILL TALKING
“I’ve always had a special relationship with the gays. It started with my first college boyfriend, and since then I gravitate toward them like Amy Winehouse to a crack pipe.” —Joan Rivers. Her new documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work (in theaters June 11), ­reveals the humanity behind the mask she wears on the red carpet.WINNIE STACHLEBERG X390 (CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS) | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE WE SET THE EXAMPLE
After years of uncertainty and even suicidal thoughts, 23-year-old State University of New York College at Oneonta student, lacrosse team member, and Putnam Valley native Andrew McIntosh decided it was time to stop hiding in the closet. He came out on Outsports.com, a website dedicated to athletes.

The Advocate:
What has your experience been since you came out to your teammates and coaches? McIntosh: After the story broke, I decided to come out to my team. I didn’t want them to find out from a second source, so I decided to tell them. I was pretty nervous, but they greeted me with open arms. And I received a bunch of feedback from athletes in high school and college and even people in the professional world. I get e-mails that say, “I was thinking about suicide until I read your article.” It’s pretty powerful. Those were the e-mails I was sending out ­before I came out.

How is your season going?
We’re 3-0 in our conference [the SUNY Athletic Conference] and 7-4 total. We’ve been pretty successful, but we’re focusing on it one game at a time. And luckily, there’s been no name-calling from opposing teams or anything like that at all. I feel like I’m playing some of the best lacrosse in my life. Even rival coaches that I’ve played against have expressed their support.

What’s going on in the future for you?
I’ll be student-teaching in social studies next semester and graduating in December. Maybe work in higher education for a while or work at another college. I’m just really excited for the future, because now I’m out and I’m OK with that. ANDREW MCINTOSH X390 (OUTSPORTS) | ADVOCATE.COM

SCOTT FUJITA X560 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

BECAUSE WE LIKE FOOTBALL TOO
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbedejo wrote an essay for The Huffington Post last year supporting marriage equality. New Orleans Saints linebacker Scott Fujita (pictured)  publicly supported him, and both guys took some heat for their stance but refused to back down. Perhaps not to be outdone by Fujita, teammate Jeremy Shockey allowed people of any gender to enter a Facebook contest to win a dinner date with him.

BECAUSE THE GREAT SCOT IS FEARLESS

Whether frequently dropping trou on screen, believably playing gay characters, or expressing indignation at homophobic laughter on Good Morning America, Ewan McGregor has our eternal admiration.


1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COM BECAUSE NOTHING CAN STOP LARRY KRAMER
Having beaten the Grim Reaper into submission, Larry Kramer remains as fiery as ever nearly nine years after a lifesaving liver transplant. Reminding us that advances “came because gay people fought like tigers and screaming banshees,” Kramer’s helping reclaim our history with his 4,000-page opus The American People, due out in 2011.

BECAUSE SHOWTIME’S STILL QUEER AS FOLK
Even without the eye candy (we’re looking at both of you, Henry Cavill and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) that populates its sexy series The Tudors, gay characters like Thor, the diabetic caregiver on Nurse Jackie; Marshall, Toni Collette’s teenage son on The United States of Tara; and the raucous ladies of The Real L Word keep us watching.

BECAUSE WE’RE NOT ALONE IN LOVING A GOOD PAGEANT
Indiana University may field some great basketball teams, but that’s no competition for the draw of Miss Gay IU—the nation’s first known student-sponsored drag competition. Better yet, this year marks its 20th anniversary. Perhaps a Miss Gay IU reunion is in order?LARRY KRAMER 201004 X390 (GETTY) | ADVOCATE.COM

BATWOMAN XSLIDE (DC) | ADVOCATE.COM

BECAUSE THE NEWEST CAPED CRUSADER LIKES GIRLS
DC Comics’ Batwoman is the first lesbian character with her own ongoing series. Pow!

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COMBECAUSE THERE ARE MORE OF US IN ELECTED OFFICE THAN EVER BEFORE
I’m proud that the number of openly LGBT elected officials serving in America is at an all-time high and that this year the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund is on track to endorse its largest slate of out candidates ever. These courageous individuals give voice to our community in the halls of power, speak authentically about our lives, and fight hardest for laws and policies that make our country more fair and more free. Last year Houston became the largest U.S. city to elect an openly gay mayor. Today, Annise Parker is serving 2.2 million Houstonians honestly, openly, and with a quiet dignity that has the power to change hearts and minds about what LGBT Americans have to offer their country. In March, Parker issued one of the country’s most comprehensive LGBT nondiscrimination policies governing public employees—a move that drew howls of protest from the very antigay groups that fought to keep her from winning. Their bigotry was as predictable as Parker’s determination. Still, with more than half a million elective offices in the United States, gay people are vastly underrepresented in government. Fewer than 500 of those posts are filled with openly LGBT officeholders—a 10-fold increase since the Victory Fund was founded in 1991, but not nearly enough. We’re committed to winning more of those offices so that more out elected officials gain the same voice, the same vote, and the same power that all Americans enjoy. —Chuck Wolfe, Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund president and chief executive officer MAINE VOTERS X390 (SCOTT MCPHERSON) | ADVOCATE.COM BECAUSE MASSACHUSETTS REPRESENTATIVE BARNEY FRANK SAYS EVERYTHING EVERYONE ELSE IS TOO AFRAID OR TOO EMBARRASSED TO
Is there such a thing as too frank? No.

BECAUSE WE’VE GOT POWER IN NUMBERS

When one antigay man showed up to protest a production of The Laramie Project at Dutchtown High School in Geismar, La., he found himself facing 500 gay-positive counterprotesters.

BECAUSE WE CREATE GEMS IN UNEXPECTED PLACES
One of the best gay clubs in New Mexico is inside an old folks’ home. The Silver Starlight Lounge, located within Santa Fe’s gay-inclusive Rainbow Vision retirement community, hosts events like “Trash Disco” and the “Mr. Rise n’ Shine Bear Contest”—all just a stone’s throw from the Billie Jean King Spa and Fitness Center.