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Year in Review

Year in Review: 2014

Year in Review: 2014


This year, the Boy Scouts admitted gay youths, Michael Sam was drafted, Sochi became an international rallying cry, we won a bunch of marriage victories (and Eurovision!), and our rights in Russia, Uganda, and Arizona hung precariously in the balance.

Photograph By Benedicte Desrus

More than 100 gay Ugandans and their supporters met in the capital of Kampala on Valentine's Day to discuss the Anti-Homosexuality Act that threatens their safety.

Sochi Olympics - February 7

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics got off to a rocky start in the wake of Russia's Putin-backed law against gay "propaganda," Putin's equating homosexuality with pedophilia, legislation to remove children from the custody of their LGBT parents, a refusal to allow a Pride house for LGBT Olympians, protestations from Sochi's mayor that there were no gays living in the city (despite evidence to the contrary), condemnation of the country's antigay laws by several Olympics sponsors, widespread and unprosecuted victimization of LGBTs by nationalist thugs, U.S. State Department warnings to LGBT travelers to Sochi about possible fines and imprisonment, and the International Olympic Committee's inaction in addressing any of these matters. President Obama responded with evident symbolism by forgoing the games and sending a delegation that included a number of prominent openly gay athletes: hockey player Caitlin Cahow, tennis legend Billie Jean King, and figure skater Brian Boitano.

Photo Credit: Dmitry Serebryakov/AFP/Getty Images (Top Left), Koen van Weel/AFP/Getty Images (Top Right), (Bottom Row)

Laverne Cox Covers Time - May 29
Actress and trans rights activist Laverne Cox was the first transgender person to appear on Time's cover for its story "The Transgender Tipping Point." In April, Cox took the top spot in the Time 100 Reader Poll, momentarily displacing pop star Justin Bieber. On July 10, Cox became the first transgender person nominated for an Emmy award for her role in Orange Is the New Black.

Photo Credit: TIME Magazine

Executive Order - July 21
President Obama signed an executive order adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the categories protected in the existing anti-discrimination executive order covering federal contractors.

Photo Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty images

MacArthur Genius Grants - September 17
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded "genius grants" of $625,000 each to three queer winners: civil rights attorney Mary Bonauto (civil rights project director at Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, Gill v. Office of Personnel Management); cartoonist and graphic memoirist Alison Bechdel (graphic novels Fun Home and Are You My Mother? and long-running comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For"); and playwright Samuel Hunter (The Whale, The Few, Rest, and A Great Wilderness).

Photo Courtesy of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Uganda - March 19
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced plans to send American scientists to Uganda in an effort to counteract the flawed "science" cited by Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni when he signed into law the Anti-Homosexuality Act, which imposes prison sentences for same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults and criminalizes anyone who "aids or abets" homosexuality or LGBT people. When Museveni signed the law in February, he pointed to a so-called scientific report from antigay Ugandan lawmakers "with medical backgrounds," and concluded that homosexuality was partially innate but mostly influenced by environment and active recruitment. On August 1, the Constitutional Court of Uganda ruled the law invalid but parliamentarian David Bahati said the government would appeal to overturn the ruling.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Conchita Wurst Wins Eurovision - May 10
The annual Eurovision Song Contest ended with a victory for Conchita Wurst, Austria's bearded drag queen contestant, and her 007-style torch song, "Rise Like a Phoenix." Upon winning, Wurst, the alter ego of Thomas Neuwirth, said, "This night is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom. You know who you are. We are unity and we are unstoppable!" Her beard became a meme in LGBT rights protests in Russia over the summer.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Michael Sam - May 10
Michael Sam became the first openly gay football player in the NFL. He was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, and congratulated in a statement by President Barack Obama. He made his professional debut on August 8, but was cut by the Rams later that month. On September 3, he was added to the practice squad of the Dallas Cowboys.

Photo Credit: Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Boy Scouts - January 1
The Boy Scouts of America implemented its policy to allow openly gay young people into the ranks, though gays and lesbians over age 18 are still barred from serving as scout leaders, troop members, or volunteers. After a long debate, the organization's national board approved the policy change in a 2013 vote, as a compromise for an organization facing declining sponsorship due to discriminatory policies, and declining membership.

Photo Credit: Stewart House/Getty Images

Bashing in Philadelphia - September 23
Three people were charged by police in the physical attack on a gay couple in Philadelphia on September 11. Both victims suffered facial fractures. Police released closed-circuit surveillance footage of the group of as many as 15 suspects, and amateur online sleuths matched the alleged assailants to Facebook check-ins of a group at an area restaurant. The attack outraged residents and politicians, as Pennsylvania has no protection for sexual orientation in the state's hate crimes statute.

Sultan of Brunei - May 1
Under Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Shariah law commenced in Brunei. The law will eventually include the death penalty by stoning for those found guilty of homosexual acts. Boycotts against properties owned by the sultan kept much of Hollywood away from the Beverly Hills Hotel and much of the fashion industry away from Milan's Principe di Savoia. The Dorchester Collection Fashion Prize was canceled this year after Vogue editor Anna Wintour and other fashion industry notables boycotted the event.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Arizona - February 20
The Arizona legislature passed the so-called "license to discriminate" bill and sent it to Gov. Jan Brewer (above) for her signature. The measure would have given legal protection to businesses and individuals that denied goods and services to certain consumers -- including LGBT individuals, same-sex couples, single women, or people of different religions -- on the grounds that serving them would place a substantial burden on their exercise of religion. On February 26, the governor vetoed the bill.

Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Marriage Equality Rulings - January 6
The marriages that began in Utah at the end of 2013 (in the first post-Windsor marriage decision) were stayed by the Supreme Court. On January 10, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the U.S. government would recognize the marriages performed in Utah between December 20, 2013, and January 6, 2014. Most states with constitutional bans were in the midst of cases challenging those bans.

October 6
The Supreme Court rejected appeals from five states (Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin). Because the rulings struck down bans in other states as well, the appeals court decisions raised the number of marriage equality states from 19 to 30, plus Washington, D.C. The following day, a federal appeals court rejected bans in two more (Nevada and Idaho), though as of press time, Idaho must await further action before marriages can begin.

Photo Credit: George Frey/Getty Images

St. Patrick's Day Parade - September 3
Organizers of the Saint Patrick's Day parade in New York City announced that they would end the ban on LGBT-affiliated groups. 2015 will mark the first year since the parade began in 1762 that LGBT groups will march with the organizing committee's consent.

Photo Credit: AFP/ Getty Images

Mozilla CEO Resigns - April 3
Fewer than two weeks after being named CEO of Mozilla, the tech company he co-founded, Brendan Eich stepped down. Eich's appointment had been the subject of controversy after it was revealed that he donated $1,000 to California's Prop 8 antigay campaign in 2008. The company's employees (not LGBT activists) pressured Eich to resign, sparking a vigorous public debate.

Barneys - January 31
Luxury retailer Barneys New York's Spring 2014 campaign, titled "Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters," featured 17 transgender models photographed by Bruce Weber and interviewed by Vanity Fair's Patricia Bosworth. Rather than releasing a traditional catalog, Barneys released portfolios with photos of the models and their stories, along with a series of videos to coincide with the campaign.

Photo Credit: Bruce Weber/ Barneys New York; Tricia Uveges

California Bans Gay Panic Defense - September 27
California became the first state to officially ban "trans panic" and "gay panic" legal defenses. In the past, defendants in murder cases could ask for a lesser charge of manslaughter, claiming they were so shocked to learn that their victim was gay or trans that they had no recourse besides violence, as in the 2011 murder trial of teenager Brandon McInerney for the killing of classmate Larry King. McInerney cited "gay panic" and pled guilty to second-degree murder and voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 21 years in prison. The new law makes clear that a defendant's fear of a victim's sexual orientation or gender identity may not be used as a legal defense.

Gay Games Cleveland - August 6
Some 8,000 people from 48 states and 51 countries registered for the Gay Games in Cleveland and Akron, Ohio, this year -- but a whopping 25,000 came to town for the event. Though the two cities have less international cachet than previous host cities such as New York, Amsterdam, and Cologne, the games were a rousing success. Event organizers cited record-setting performances by a 99-year-old in the 100-meter dash, and a Masters swimmer in the 50 free, and successfully handed off the flag to a delegation from Paris, the host city for the 2018 Gay Games.

Photo Credit: Tricia Uveges (Ceremony); Michelle Rodriquez (Cheer); Proevent Photo (Skaters); Gary Sponholz (Winners)

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