Going into 2006,
I had a dark cloud over my head--a lingering effect of
the last presidential election. When George W. Bush was
reelected, it was as if the nation said to me,
"There's no place for you here." Since
then I've repeated the mantra, Hang in
there, just a couple more years to go.
Two, to be exact.
After the 2006 election, with the Democrats regaining
Congress, I felt the fog start to lift, and I can again
imagine a future for myself and my community.
wasn't just the election that changed my outlook.
Thanks to Web logs, mostly those put together by young
gay men, an unprecedented number of celebrities came
out in quick succession. T.R. Knight from Grey's
Anatomy and How I Met Your Mother's
Neil Patrick Harris are now openly gay, yet they play
straight men on their shows. And I haven't heard any
questioning of their abilities to play hetero
characters. Lance Bass, who also came out in 2006, is
as popular as ever.
relieved these entertainers can live and work truthfully, I
was more personally affected by former congressman
Mark Foley's outing. I was astonished to learn
there existed men like Foley who lived double
lives--pursuing gay relationships in private while
furthering an antigay agenda in public. I guess I was
naive. But now it makes sense, because just like in
school, those who rail most vehemently against us are
usually the ones most uncomfortable with their own
While Foley had a
vote in Congress and President Bush on speed dial,
disgraced evangelical minister Ted Haggard had more direct
influence on how conservative Americans viewed
gays--at least until he resigned in disgrace for
being involved with a male prostitute. From his pulpit
Haggard worked to convince his huge congregation that gays
were sinners, all while he enjoyed the company of men
after hours. Haggard's surname seems fitting
now. He represents the tired, worn-out strategy of hiding
and deceit, which seems finally to be going out of fashion.
And in between
Foley's page scandal and Haggard's
resignation, we lost a gay hero who refused to
apologize for his life even when such a stand could
have cost him everything. I'm talking about the late,
great Gerry Studds, the first gay person to serve
openly in Congress. Studds was one of the queer
pioneers who helped make it possible for young gay people to
live as freely as we do today.
If real men like
Studds broke the closet open, then the outings of 2006
have shattered the door to pieces, allowing optimism to
break through. Perhaps 2007 will be the year in which
another state makes a commitment to marriage equality
or gays and lesbians are allowed to serve openly in
our military. For the first time in a long time, I'm