It's Gay Pride week in New York, and this year we have a lot to celebrate. But we also still have a long way to march. Here are four things that we can be proud of -- and four that I think are shameful.
The marriage push
President Obama got lots of well-deserved love for coming out in favor of gay marriage -- a huge leap forward for anyone who cares about fairness under the law. But his change of public heart didn't happen by itself. It was the outgrowth of a tireless campaign by LBGT activists and allies -- mostly Democrats but also a growing number of Republicans who recognize that gay marriage is completely consistent with American values. Make fun of Log Cabin Republicans all you want, but they've helped give this battle a second front.
As the gay community fights for greater diversity in American culture, it's been great to see a growth in diversity withinthe gay community, too. I can't be the only one who has noticed a greater number of mixed-race couples lately; we're finally moving beyond self-segregation (or racial fetishes). And with so many gay parents adopting children from other parts of the world, our families are flying the rainbow flag high.
Resisting the Q
Just when it seemed like we had finally settled on a name for ourselves -- LGBT, for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender -- there's been a renewed effort to tack the letter Q to the end, for Queer. Happily, the New York establishment has so far held off. It's not just that "queer" sounds defensive and angry (and so 1990s). It's that once you start adding letters, it's hard to stop. The Toronto Gay Pride parade is officially in honor -- I am not making this up -- of the "LGBTTIQQ2SA communities." That stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Interested, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirited and Allies." I'm questioning that, all right, but believe me I'm not interested.
Breaking the crystal
Though many LGBT New Yorkers still struggle with drug problems, the worst is finally fading. Crystal meth, once the party drug of choice for gay men in the city, has almost entirely disappeared from the scene. What can we thank for the wane of this disgusting and soul-crushing habit? Aggressive public-education campaigns surely helped, but I think meth finally just outwore its welcome. After years of watching their friends turn into hateful zombies before their eyes, gay people finally wised up.
HIV infection on the rise
When the AIDS epidemic hit New York in the 1980s, those lucky enough to survive it took dramatic action to stop its spread, by teaching each other -- and younger gay people -- about the necessity of safer sex. Now that HIV is no longer a death sentence, those lessons are being forgotten; after years of hard-won health, barebacking is prevalent and HIV is once again on the rise. We have failed in our responsibility to educate young people about the very real risks and complications about living with HIV, and we need to take up that fight again.
Lord knows, I'm all for making your body look as perfect as it can. But sometimes the quest for perfection can tip into the ridiculous, and someone has to take a stand. So I'm going to be brave and say what needs to be said: young gay men, stop torturing your eyebrows! Use a tweezer here and there, pluck a stray or two, but stop waxing and shaping them into thin little cartoon arches. Embrace your eyebrows, boys! They're yours, not Greta Garbo's!
As more and more stars casually go public about their sexuality, America heaves a collective shrug. And with every advance, the glass closet that so many celebrities still live in gets harder and harder to justify. The most egregious example of this phenomenon is CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, who performs showy acts of anchorman heroism in public while cagily hiding his private life. Everyone knows he's gay -- they've seen him banter with Kathy Griffin -- which makes his secrecy more glaring. Would coming out kill his news career? Ask MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Thomas Roberts, or CNN's own Don Lemon. There is no excuse left for him to keep his sexuality cooped up.
Kneejerk anti-Israel activism
In every country but one in the Middle East and the Arab world, LBGT people live in secrecy and fear, loathed and often endangered by cultures dominated by religious fanatics. That one exception is Israel, where gay culture thrives and LGBT people can adopt children and serve openly in the military. So guess which country gets the most heat from progressive activists in the gay community? Israel, of course! Israel's superior record on gay rights is smeared as "pink-washing" by activists who turn blind eyes to countries where pink is being violently erased every day. On Sunday, I'll be marching with the Israeli delegation in the New York Gay Pride Parade. I'd be proud if you would join us.
MICHAEL LUCAS is the creator of Lucas Entertainment, one of the largest studios producing all-male erotica. He lives in New York City. This article is the opinion of the writer and notThe Advocate.