By Advocate Contributors
Originally published on Advocate.com May 16 2011 4:00 AM ET
Click here to read part two and click here to read part three of The Advocate's "193 Reasons to Have Pride in 2011."
CHROME BECOMES A LEGEND MOST
Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, the Virgin Mary, and…Andy Warhol? The late gay pop art icon has been immortalized once again—this time by sculptor Rob Pruitt (pictured above) with a metallic statue that will be on public display near effigies of those other notables until October 2 in New York’s Union Square, not far from where Warhol ran his legendary Factory.
MARRIED BINATIONAL COUPLES ARE DEMANDING THEIR RIGHTS
The Defense of Marriage Act that precludes gays and lesbians from sponsoring their foreign spouses for citizenship + President Obama declaring that law unconstitutional = conundrum. The result? Binational couples and their advocates are pushing for parity in ever-increasing numbers. As Stop the Deportations’ Lavi Soloway puts it, “We cannot sit by while the government destroys the hopes and dreams of loving couples.”
A JUNE WEDDING IN MEXICO CITY SOUNDS DELIGHTFUL
In Mexico’s first year of marriage equality, 367 male couples and 333 female ones were legally joined. All but 73 people married were Mexican citizens, and nine were between the ages of 71 and 90. While ceremonies are currently being performed only in Mexico City, the unions are recognized throughout the country. ¡Viva México!
HE’S A STAR, MAN!
With his candid admission in 1972 that he was bisexual, David Bowie forever liberated pop music and paved the way for other button-pushing artists to come from Freddie Mercury to Lady Gaga. Starman, a new biography of the first truly modern rock star, will likely define Bowie for years to come.
CHARLIE SHEEN IS VERY HETERO
He’s still resolutely not on our team. Who’s winning now? Yes, it’s us.
GENE ROBINSON ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE
The first openly gay Episcopal bishop will step down in two years, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be merely content with a pastoral New Hampshire retirement. Robinson, who at 64 is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, says he intends continue his LGBT activism as well as take a more visible role in public policy.
WE’RE GETTING LONG-OVERDUE RECOGNITION
Of our relationships, that is. We still have a long march to nationwide marriage equality, but states including Delaware, Illinois, and Hawaii, which all OK’d civil unions this year, are taking steps in the right direction. We are holding out hope for marriage soon in New York and Rhode Island, and the Obama administration’s decision to cease defending the indefensible Defense of Marriage Act is all to the good!
APPLE KNOWS WE MEAN BUSINESS
Exodus International’s “ex-gay” iPhone app, released March 8, caused such an uproar for its hateful and bigoted message that Truth Wins Out, a nonprofit that battles antigay religious extremism, amassed over 150,000 signatures demanding its removal. By March 23, Apple had yanked the app from its online store.
THE HOTTEST ANTIFUR ACTIVIST BELONGS TO OUR TEAM
Known for his tailored homage to all things masculine, men’s fashion designer John Bartlett has become a vocal opponent to the growing use of fur in collections. “They don’t understand why fur isn’t fabulous,” Bartlett said of some colleagues at New York Fashion Week in February. “[Many] consider fur as fabric. There is this incredible disconnect.”
WE LOOK GOOD IN UNIFORM TOO
In April military service chiefs told Congress that training efforts in the implementation of “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal were going smoothly and that recruitment numbers were unaffected. Did repeal advocates know this would be the case? Yep. But it’s nice to hear it from the powers that be. And while gay service members aren’t going to come out en masse the very day they are allowed to do so (perhaps by September), it’s nice to know they’ll at least have the option.
TORCHWOOD IS MOVING TO AMERICA
To be fair, British sci-fi hit Torchwood’s first three seasons have aired stateside on BBC America. But with Torchwood: Miracle Day, Capt. Jack Harkness (out actor John Barrowman) and his team of alien hunters head to America to investigate the sudden end of death on earth. Series creator Russell T. Davies (the original Queer as Folk, Dr. Who) promises fans that Miracle Day, which premieres on Starz in July, will be bigger, better, and, dare we say, gayer than ever. “We’ve got a big, new, wide canvas on Starz, and when they came on board Torchwood, they wanted more of everything,” Davies says. “More Jack, more boldness, more wit, more darkness, more heat. More of everything.”
ABC & ABC FAMILY ARE MUST-SEE GAY TV
Modern Family is the other gayest show on TV. And now that Brothers & Sisters has hit a fifth-season creative stride (finally some good, gay drama for Ron Rifkin’s Uncle Saul) and Desperate Housewives has finally given Bob and Lee a story line, ABC remains the most gay-friendly of the major networks. But it’s ABC Family that has emerged as the real surprise with its gay-inclusive programming. Greek wrapped its run in March after delivering four seasons of realistic and honest storytelling for gay frat boy Calvin (Paul James). But the network still features fully realized gay characters on The Secret Life of the American Teenager and Pretty Little Liars. Also, this summer, out actress and model Jessica Clark stars with Raven Symoné on The Great State of Georgia.
OBAMA IS A CHAMP ON A GLOBAL SCALE
Whereas George W. Bush spent eight years sidestepping the issue of gay rights in the United Nations, in March the Obama administration called on the U.N.’s Human Rights Council to fight discrimination against gays and lesbians around the world. The move came less than a week after President Obama announced with Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff the creation of a position to monitor gay rights in the Western Hemisphere, prompting the Human Rights Campaign to extol the U.S. government for stepping into the role of a worldwide leader in the fight for equality.
WE SAVE THE DAY
In the wake of bad press, highly publicized injuries, and a much-delayed opening, Broadway’s Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark welcomes three major gay additions to the creative team as Julie Taymor departs the production. Playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a former Big Love scribe who has written Spider-Man stories for Marvel Comics, has swooped in to rewrite the musical’s book. The Boy From Oz’s Philip William McKinley and Chase Brock of the Chase Brock Experience have also come to the rescue as the musical’s new director and choreographer, respectively. The $65 million musical, which will take a hiatus to implement this heroic trio’s changes, will now open June 14.
THERE’S NO MINIMUM AGE REQUIREMENT FOR JOINING THE FIGHT
When Logan Voxx founded the Positive Young People Foundation at the tender age of 21, the fact that he had no experience running a nonprofit didn’t deter him. He aligned himself with a team of experienced advisers who all shared a singular mission: reducing the rate of HIV infection among people aged 18-30. “Seeing so many people, at 20 years old, become HIV-positive, especially in the gay community, especially in the African-American community — that was really hard for me,” Voxx explains. “Most of my friends, even some family, are HIV-positive.” In 2011, Voxx says, the foundation will launch a billboard campaign throughout Southern California in an attempt to raise awareness about local testing facilities and available treatments and to get people talking about HIV/AIDS like it’s not a thing of the past. He’s one of many young people changing the face of gay activism. Adam Bouska was just 25 when he kick started the No H8 Campaign, which now includes photos of everyone from Cindy McCain to Kim Kardashian. And though it may be a bit premature to call him a philanthropist, at just 7 years old, a boy named Malcolm made quite an impression when he took $140 given to him by his grandmother and donated it to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the Human Rights Campaign because he thinks gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry.
THE DOCUMENTARY LENS HAS FINALLY BEEN TRAINED ON BILL CUNNINGHAM
Before The Sartorialist, there was The New York Times’ inimitable street-style savant and photographer, who stars in Bill Cunningham New York, a new documentary about his life and work. “We all get dressed for Bill,” says Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
SOME CHRISTIANS KNOW LOVE IS GREATER THAN HATE
Sure, we’ll never win over the Dobsons and Robertsons of the world, nor the publicity-mongering Phelps clan, but there are Christians advocating for LGBT equality in most mainline denominations and several interfaith organizations. Single-denomination groups like the United Methodists’ Affirmation, Catholicism’s DignityUSA, the Episcopal Church’s Integrity, and ecumenical efforts such as Soulforce, Believe Out Loud, and Faith in America are fighting for full acceptance of LGBT people in church doctrine and public policy. These Christian soldiers are waging some uphill battles, but they’ve also had some victories, and we’re glad to have fellowship with them.
THE RAINBOW DELEGATION IS EVERYWHERE
Before he came out, college student and violinist Matthew Mazzei did not think there were many gay people in his hometown of Fresno, Calif. But then a project he started by asking his friends to increase LGBT visibility has shown him just how gay and gay-friendly Fresno actually is. In only six months Mazzei and his team of friends have sent 40,000 rainbow bracelets around the world, regardless of the requester’s ability to pay (he does accept optional donations). The goal of his organization, Rainbow Delegation, is simple: to spread awareness through a visual reminder that gay people and their allies are everywhere, from Salt Lake City to Ho Chi Minh City. “This project has given me a lot more confidence in myself,” he says. “It’s given me a passion and a focus for a cause. There are so many areas like Fresno where people of any age might feel rejected or marginalized. Now some kids will know they’re not alone.”
PEREZ HILTON LEARNED TO PLAY NICE-ISH
The bad boy celebrity blogger made good on his vow to cease his bullying behavior. He stopped doodling coke boogers and semen on celebrity photos and even called a truce with former targets Fergie and will.i.am. Last March, Hilton turned his annual invitation-only birthday bash into a fund-raiser for GLSEN, raising nearly $13,000 for LGBT teenagers. September will see the publication of The Boy With Pink Hair, his first children’s book, which Hilton says will celebrate “individuality and self-acceptance and equality in readers of all ages.”
FRED KARGER IS THE FIRST OPENLY GAY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
He’s angry, gay, and Republican, and even though Karger is an unlikely contender for the Oval Office, that doesn’t mean he lacks the goods. The California activist served as a senior consultant to the Ford, Reagan, and Bush senior presidential campaigns and, more recently, fought against Prop. 8 and its supporters, initiating a successful federal investigation into the finances of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for its contributions to the antigay initiative.
EQUALITY IS GOOD BUSINESS, AND COMPANIES KNOW IT
More and more corporations are recognizing our value as employees and consumers. A total of 337 companies, employing 8.3 million full-time U.S. workers, had a perfect score of 100 on the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index for 2011, up from 305 the previous year and 13(!) when the index was launched in 2002. And while we were upset by recent political donations from “gay-friendly” companies to antigay candidates, there’s also new light shining on corporate giving.
BROADWAY’S RAINING GAYS
Glittery drag queens populate both the just-closed La Cage aux Folles and the recently opened smash stage version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Tony Kushner has two shows on the boards: his epic Angels in America and the marquee-defying The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures.
Larry Kramer’s landmark play about the dawn of the AIDS crisis, The Normal Heart, will formally make its debut on Broadway nearly three decades after an acclaimed run off. (It’s scheduled to run through July 10, but Kramer’s long-anticipated film adaptation is also a go with Ryan Murphy directing and Mark Ruffalo starring as gay activist Ned Weeks.)
But the hottest ticket in town is definitely The Book of Mormon (above) from South Park duo Trey Parker and Matt Stone and featuring their signature hilarious blasphemy, and, naturally, there’s a closeted Latter-day Saint missionary.
It’s not as if Broadway just discovered homos, but this just might be the Great White Way’s greatest, gayest season yet.
SABRINA MCKENNA IS THE FIRST OPENLY GAY JUDGE TO SERVE ON HAWAII’s SUPREME COURT
“This is the most important decision I have made in my career,” Gov. Neil Abercrombie said upon nominating Sabrina McKenna as an associate justice in January. “This appointment sets the course for the state and its legal direction for the next several years. I am completely confident that Judge McKenna’s appointment will be something I’m proud of for the rest of my life.”
WE HAVE THE MOST LOVABLE ODDBALLS
For the past two decades, impeccably dressed New York couple Mark Kirby and A.J. Sapolnick have been raising a plastic doll named Digby as though it was their child. The fellas take Digby along on their globetrotting vacations and, when the doll “turned” 13, threw it a bar mitzvah. That’s some nonconformist conformity—viva weirdness!
WE’RE PUTTING OUR LIVES ON THE LINE IN THE NAME OF EQUALITY
LGBT advocates around the world are willing to stand up and fight even when it puts their lives in danger. Hate crimes remain a sad fact of American life, but the situation in some countries is far more dire. Outspoken Ugandan activist David Kato was bludgeoned to death in January, but Frank Mugisha, Val Kalende, and others in that nation continue to work for LGBT rights and against its pending “kill the gays” legislation. That bill’s sponsor, member of parliament David Bahati, has said he would welcome Brenda Namigadde, currently seeking asylum in the U.K., back to Uganda if she “repents” of her lesbianism, but she has courageously refused. In Jamaica, Maurice Tomlinson received a death threat after condemning the February raid of a gay bar in Montego Bay, but he continues to speak out. Gay groups in Honduras got the government to promise a stepped-up investigation of a rash of antigay murders. Iranian gays regularly face the possibility of execution, but they still advocate for their rights and publish an online magazine, Cheraq. These people and many others deserve all the respect and support we can give.
MICHELLE OBAMA KEEPS GAY DESIGNER LABELS AT THE FOREFRONT IN HER STATE DINNER SARTORIAL PICKS
Move over, Oscar de la Renta. Matronly first lady style has been banished from the White House, and Michelle Obama has gay designers to thank for it. The first lady’s white inauguration dress from Jason Wu and her red dress from the late Alexander McQueen’s label caused a level of international fashion sensation usually reserved for Lady Gaga.
STARS LOVE TO BE GAY FOR PAY — AND ACCLAIM
Playing gay is no career liability, judging from the Hollywood A-listers taking on gay roles and being rewarded for them. The past awards season brought an Oscar to Natalie Portman for her lesbian-leaning ballerina in Black Swan, plus plenty of praise and award nominations for Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as the committed couple of The Kids Are All Right. Colin Firth’s career didn’t exactly go downhill after A Single Man. And James Franco, who seems to play gay in every other movie, is perhaps the most in-demand star in the biz.
THE STATE DEPARTMENT REFUSES TO IGNORE ANTIGAY ATROCITIES ABROAD
There’s a reason why we put Hillary Clinton on the cover a few months ago. The secretary of State and her staff have not only sought to extend greater benefits to employees with same-sex partners, but she also publicly condemns bigotry and its fatal consequences abroad. “As we reflect on his life,” Clinton said of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato, who was brutally murdered in January, “it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons.”
MAN-ON-MAN MEANS ACTION
entertainer Liberace and his assistant-lover Scott Thorson,
respectively, Michael Douglas and Matt Damon will kiss — more than once,
according to the script — in Steven Soderbergh’s biopic Liberace, which is scheduled to shoot in 2012 for a 2013 release.
WE MAKE GOOD FRIENDS AND PARTNERS
Lisa Kudrow stars as a self-involved iChat therapist in Web Therapy,
an online series she created with producing partner Dan Bucatinsky and
his boyfriend, writer-director Don Roos. After three star-studded
seasons, the trio — who also collaborate on NBC’s celebrity genealogy
docu-series Who Do You Think You Are?—bring Web Therapy to Showtime starting July 19.
THEIR KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
the vocal proponents of marriage equality are two of our favorite
actors, and both just happen to be heterosexual. Ethan Hawke and Mark
Ruffalo, along with their wives, filmed separate videos for the New
Yorkers for Marriage Equality Campaign. The Ruffalos nailed it, saying,
“We’re raising our three kids to treat everyone with dignity and
OF THE BRAVE BABES
ink has been spilled about LGBT bullying and suicide that we risk
forgetting those gay teens who are standing up and fighting back. Luke
Herbert is one of them—after his shop teacher made fun of the
15-year-old in front of his Palm Coast, Fla., class, Herbert demanded
action. The teacher has since apologized and the school is strengthening
its harassment policies.
THE NAACP WANTS MORE GAY CHAPTER LEADERS
102-year-old civil rights organization is encouraging a diverse crop of
leaders to head its chapters, including Latinos, young people, and
gays. Earlier this year, 28-year-old Ravi Perry, a professor at Clark
University, took the reins as the first gay president of the NAACP’s
Worcester, Mass., chapter.
WHERE THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY CAVED TO ANTIGAY CENSORSHIP, ANOTHER VENUE WILL STAND STRONG
Smithsonian Institution displayed an epic fail when, under pressure
from House Republicans and the Catholic League, it removed a David
Wojnarowicz video featuring ants crawling across a crucifix from the
“Hide/Seek” exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington,
D.C. No stranger to controversy, the Brooklyn Museum, which built a
reputation by showing the “Sensation” exhibit despite religious outcries
in the 1990s, wants to showcase the groundbreaking exhibition on gay
portraiture this fall, complete with the video A Fire in My Belly from the late New York artist. The Tacoma Art Museum may also present the full exhibition.