Friends, it’s been quite a run. Next year, 2013, would have marked the 25th anniversary of this monthly literary love affair you and I have been conducting for most of my adult life via What a World. It pains me that this column you are reading right now, dear loyal readers, is the final What a World we’ll ever share together.
Since 1988, it’s been my monthly honor to provide you with my sometimes wacky, sometimes weepy personal take on our various LGBT struggles, triumphs, and absurdities. I hope it’s been as good for you as it’s been for me. Thanks for playing along.
At least, I’m assuming this will be our last What a World together. If the Mayans and the Book of Revelation are right, it is. Surely, with all the build-up to the coming Apocalypse on December 21—whether it arrives in the form of a comet, or a polar inversion, or an earthquake, or a “perfect storm” hurricane, or aliens, or the long-foretold, zombie-resurrecting second coming of Jesus himself—many signs indicate that, indeed, the end is near.
But is the end of the world truly upon us? It’s looking that way, especially for those who resist progress, equality, and in some cases, just good old common sense. Consider some of the highlights of 2012:
Slippery Slope News
Those who equate growing LGBT equality with the demise of civilization found themselves much, much closer to the End Times when same-sex marriage was approved by voters in Maine and Maryland. In more slippery-slope news: Proposition 8, California’s same-sex marriage ban, was declared unconstitutional in February.
Perhaps inspired by Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama’s embrace of marriage equality, Austin became the first city in Texas to endorse same-sex marriage, in September. California made us cheer again when, in October, the state banned “ex-gay” therapy for kids, finally rendering illegal the acts of emotional and physical torture conducted on queers in the name of faith and science. Hallelujah!
Wham Bam Thank You, Mamm
Paralleling the biblical edict that the End Times would be fraught with wars and rumors of wars, the greatest war of all time—the 2012 Battle between the Sexes—escalated beyond all previous skirmishes since that Suffrage unpleasantness of the 19th century. One of the first shots in the gender-specific assault came in the unexpected form of friendly fire, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation announced it would discontinue its funding of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which had provided essential breast examinations and mammograms to its otherwise underserved clients. The announcement sent pink ribbon-wearing women—and men—to increase their donations to PP, and at least one Komen Foundation official to seek other employment.
The WOW continued to escalate all year in the form of various skirmishes: A House of Representatives hearing in Washington DC addressing women’s health and contraception was devoid of any female voice—but women weren’t allowed to speak at the inquisition, either. Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum’s chief financial backer, Foster Friess, determined that holding an aspirin between a woman’s knees was a reasonable form of birth control. And then there was all that “Sandra Fluke is a slut” talk from Rush Limbaugh, and that GOP business about “legitimate rape” and a resulting birth being a “gift from God.”
The good news is that, undaunted by all the emotional abuse slung by the talking heads and desperate candidates of the Republican Party in this war, binders-full of women turned out to vote, handily delivering the presidential election to President Barack Obama.
Yes, women won these various battles in 2012. The war will come even closer to an end in 2016, when apocalyptic survivors President Hillary Clinton and Vice President Elizabeth Warren storm the White House.
Sweet, Sweet Death
Definitely foretelling the end of the world, one of the most American of culinary traditions met its demise this year when Hostess, the legendary baker of such artery-clogging confections as Twinkies, Ho-Ho’s, Ding-Dongs, and those weird glow-in-the-dark pink snowballs that had the consistency of a padded bra, would shutter its sugary doors. A workers’ strike in November squeezed the last creamy filling out of the sponge cake. The announcement came shortly after I had been on a yearlong moratorium of such high-calorie indulgences. While I hesitate to take personal credit for Hostess’s folding, somebody had to do it. You’re welcome, America.
The real irony is that the chemically impervious Twinkies might be among the few foods to survive the fallout of Armageddon, thus saving humankind from eventual starvation, and giving Hostess the last ho-ho.
Like I said, what a world. See you in 2013…I hope.