What A World

Another Year in the Rearview Mirror

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A backward glance at 2010 proves that what doesn’t kill us only makes us laugh
by Nancy Ford

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: what a year, what a year. It began with the dizzying high of our own Annise D. Parker riding her stellar qualifications and outstanding public service record into Houston’s mayoral office, becoming The World’s Most Famous Lesbian in the days following her inauguration. It progressed with the bends-inducing low of an epidemic of gay teen suicides. How it ends is anyone’s guess.

Herewith are five top gay news stories of 2010 that seized this lesbian’s attention with both hands and wouldn’t let go.

In the “So What Else Is New?” category, a couple more homophobic religious leaders were caught in the Shakespearean act of doth protesting too much. Conversion therapy proponent George Rekers as well as the unfortunately named Bishop Eddie Long were both found, despite their famed rantings against the “abomination” of homosexuality, with their hands in the cookie jar. When I say “in the cookie jar,” I mean “in another guy’s pants.” Still, neither of these men’s hairstyles is as gay as Joel Osteen’s.

You can tell it’s springtime in the gay community when a story pops up about some brave queer student threatening the sanctity of his or her high school’s prom by daring to attend it with a same-sex date. But this year’s tale tops them all. When Mississippi high school student and young lesbian Constance McMillen wanted to take her girlfriend to their prom and wear a tuxedo, the decision-makers of Itawamba County School District were so outraged that they banished McMillen to a different prom, held in a different location than the school’s regular dance. You know, separate but equal—a nasty old Mississippi habit that apparently refuses to die. McMillen and the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit, and in October, she was awarded $81,000 by a judge who ruled that her rights had been violated. For her trouble, McMillen also received a $30,000 scholarship on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show, accompanied comedian Wanda Sykes to the GLAAD Awards in Los Angeles (with her girlfriend and wearing a tuxedo, no less), and was named one of Glamour magazine’s 2010 Women of the Year. The press attention has also placed McMillen in contention for “Most Famous Native Mississippian” with open heterosexual Brett Favre, who gained notoriety this year not for retiring from the NFL, but for e-mailing a picture of his junk to a female sports reporter.

Mormons peeked their little Mad Men-esque lacquered heads out of the closet with the announcement of editorial changes in their new handbook. Perhaps displaying contrition for the doorbell-ringing bunch’s role in helping fund the passage of California’s homophobic Proposition 8, the handy God Guide no longer states that same-sex relationships “distort loving relationships” or that gays should be ashamed and atone for their “homosexual thoughts or feelings.” Now the Mormons generously suggest that gay Mormons who are “worthy and qualified in every other way” should be welcomed—providing they are celibate. Granted, these are small, perhaps even laughably small, steps. But they are nonetheless steps in the right direction for a powerful sect of religious extremists that professes with a straight face that their underpants possess magical powers.

Former OutSmart employee Nikki Paige (Justin Graham) Purdue Mata Araguz made international headlines when volunteer fireman Thomas Araguz, a man Nikki married in 2008, was killed in July while responding to an egg farm fire in Bolin, Texas. After the blaze and as the death benefit checks started rolling in, the firefighter’s mother and former wife filed suit to have the Araguzes’ marriage annulled since same-sex marriage is illegal in Texas. It turns out that Nikki was born male, according to the original birth certificate, and did not undergo gender reassignment surgery until after the nuptials. Some LGBT advocates rallied, hoping for a reversal of Littleton v. Prange, a 1999 state law that would uphold Nikki’s former in-laws’ claims that the marriage (Nikki’s second to a male in Texas) was invalid and render Nikki ineligible to receive survivor benefits. But sensationalist details from Nikki’s past that have emerged as this story unfolded via worldwide media have raised the skepticism of others. Will as-yet unrevealed information in this case further the quest for marriage equality or impede its progress even more? The court’s verdict is expected soon.

Intimate pre-flight pat-downs and full-body security screenings implemented by the Transportation Security Administration have some modest travelers in an uproar, while others consider it incentive to fly more frequently. One loyal WAW reader suggests that the invasive anti-terror tactic should be viewed as a recruiting tool for previously closeted homosexuals who, having finally experienced a same-sex pat-down, will flock to the gay bars for more. Lemons, meet lemonade.

Finally, 2010’s “If It Walks Like a Duck, Looks Like a Duck, and Quacks Like a Duck, Call It Daffy” award goes to America’s Top (Not) Lesbian Power Couple, Oprah Winfrey and Gayle King. The Best Friends Forever who are married to their careers (well, the two are married to one of their careers) tangoed up and down our very last gay nerve with their incessant denials that they are way, way more than just BFFs when they embarked on that private, single-tent camping trip. Next year, expect the devoted duo to proclaim their mutual heterosexuality at Women’s Week in Provincetown in October, in Greece while on an Olivia cruise, and in the hot tub at Perez Hilton’s after-party following the GLAAD Awards.

Bring it on, 2011. We’re ready.

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