2012 – The Year of Gay Rights

Gay Flag2012 is going to be remembered as the year of gay civil rights, writes Bharathi

People said when 2012 started that the world is going to end this year. But it was the hate mongers world that ended this year. 2012 is going to go down in history as the year of gay civil rights.

Even though there were a lot of victories for LGBT rights in 2011, I consider US secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s United Nations speech, declaring “Gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights” in front of the entire world (including some homophobic leaders) as THE moment for LGBT community. (If any of you haven’t checked it out yet, it’s in YouTube, please do)

But 2012 was very different. Let’s start at home. A lot of the metropolitan cities organized gay pride parades successfully. Though Indian government and the Supreme Court had a chance to be on the right side of history, they pretty much screwed it up. But America and Europe didn’t.

America proved once again, it is the pioneer in LGBT civil rights. The year started on a low note but ended with a bang.

In February, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill to legalize gay marriage, which was even approved by his state legislators. In May, North Carolina banned gay marriage in their state by an overwhelming majority. Chick- Fil-A, a famous fast food chain’s president attacked gay marriage but was supported by a lot of haters. So did a lot of religious pastors, some of them even said that gays and lesbians should be put inside an electrified fence and left to die. But other than that the year was pretty good for gay Americans.

The biggest moment came when the world’s most powerful President, Barack Obama came out in support of full equality for LGBT community along with Gay Marriage. He ran on a pro-gay platform against everyone’s opinion that it might harm his chances of re-election, and still got re-elected. It was in stark contrast to the Republican candidate Mitt Romney and his party which ran on a predominantly anti-gay platform. They wanted to amend the American constitution to ban gay people from marrying. In Rachel Maddow’s word “the republicans got shellacked and they never saw it coming”.

People said this was the gayest election ever. Till now any state or country which had legalized gay marriage had done it through courts or elected representatives. After losing in 30 states, for the first time in history, millions of people from four states in America said, ‘Enough is enough; no one should stop loving committed same sex couples from marrying’. Maryland -with a large African-American population (who are mostly anti-gay), Maine -which four years ago banned gay marriage, and the state of Washington; all legalized gay marriage through popular vote at the ballot. In Minnesota, a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage got defeated by the people. All of this happened even when the homophobic religious organizations spearheaded by the Vatican tried so hard to stop it.

Every anti-gay, anti-abortion candidate lost, with the exceptions of a few. (The anti-gay Michelle Bachmann who wanted to run for the presidential election barely held on to her senate seat in Minnesota). America elected a record number of openly gay candidates to office, along with Tammy Baldwin, who became the first openly gay person to win a senate seat, the highest seat in the country. A measure to remove the judge who legalized gay marriage in Iowa got defeated and the judge kept his seat.

It was not only a year of celebration but a year of justice too. Hate crime laws which are used to prosecute homophobic persons for harming a person just because they are gay, saw its first prosecution. Tyler Clementi, a college freshman who committed suicide because his roommate filmed him having sex with a man, got justice. The room-mate Dharun Ravi was an Indian origin student who was found guilty on many counts including invasion of privacy and bias intimidation.

Around the world gay rights achieved remarkable progress. Great Britain and France has two remarkable Prime Ministers fighting a strong opposition raised by the homophobic Vatican and their churches. They are still strongly going forward with their plans to legalize gay marriage in their respective countries. And it looks like Australia and Uruguay are not far behind.

Spain’s highest court refused to repeal gay marriage which is already in existence. In Mexico the Supreme Court unanimously decided to make gay marriages legal all over the country. Denmark’s parliament and four states in Brazil legalized same sex marriage. Italy’s highest civil court said that homosexuals have the right to “a family life” and, “in specific situations,” to “be treated the same as couples married by law”. Despite hostility and police arrests, Uganda held its first pride festival in August and concluded it with a pride walk.Miss Universe Canada, Jenna Talackova was disqualified from taking part in the Miss Universe beauty pageant for being a transgendered woman. However, after an international outcry, the organizers allowed her to take part in the contest, though she couldn’t win it.

In Russia this year, gay rights met a major setback when the government passed a law to ban people from talking about homosexuality in the public. Queer icons, Madonna and Lady Gaga came to the rescue. Both defied the law in their concerts held in Russia and asked the crowd to stand up for gay rights. The anti-gay lobby filed a law suit against Madonna, which was thrown out by the Russian court amid hilarious arguments from the other side.

Everywhere you turned there were openly gay people. They ruled the media. The voice of reason, Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s prime time news anchor and CNN’s Anderson Cooper, the most prominent news anchor of this generation were covering the election. Nate Silver, a gay statistician correctly predicted the presidential election to the very last seat. Even in India a few movies (Student of the Year, English Vinglish) and TV shows started addressing gay relationships and gay people respectfully.

A lot of celebrities came out in a matter of fact way. Frank Ocean (hip-hop artist – MTV’s man of the year), Matt Bomer (the hot lead from White Collar and Magic Mike, who has a partner and 3 kids), Jim Parson (the hugely popular Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory, who has a long time partner of 10 years), Andrew Rennells (from The New Normal and HBO’s Girls), Lana Wachowski ( Matrix director and writer, who came out as a transgender woman), Sam Champion (the weather man from the popular Good Morning America, who got married to his boyfriend this December),Orlando Cruz (the feather weight boxer from Puerto Rico) and of course CNN’s Anderson Cooper all came out as gay and nothing happened to their career. They joined already out and successful stars like talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, Neil Patrick Harris (Barney Stinson of How I Met your Mother, who has a partner and has twins), Jesse Tyler Ferguson ( Mitch of Modern Family who got engaged to his boyfriend this year), Zachary Quinto (Heroes and Star Trek), Chris Colfer and Jane Lynch of Glee. The taboo of being gay and successful was broken!

The American Psychiatric Association decided to remove being transgender as a mental illness this year. The 2012 London Olympics saw a lot of openly gay athletes and a lot of them went home with medals. Nepal this year organized a sports event specifically for LGBT population. Google launched “legalize love”, a campaign to support LGBT safety and equality in workplace in Poland and Singapore and are planning to spread all over the world, including countries where anti-gay sentiments run high. Facebook added gay marriage icons to its web page when one of its founders, Chris Hughes married his boyfriend this summer. Every major company including Amazon, Microsoft, Walt Disney, Ford, UPS, Pepsi, Target, Macy’s, General Mills, Starbucks, P&G, JC Penny, Levi’s and countless others came out in support of LGBT equality. (Make sure you are buying their products.)

The year ended with US Supreme Court making a decision to hear the so called Defense of marriage act, which prohibits US government from recognizing gay marriage and the Prop 8 case (voter approved ban of gay marriage in California.) If won, it might make gay marriage legal all over America.

There is a lot to hope for and fear for in 2013. Like Kill the Gays Bill in Uganda’s Parliament and the forever enemy of LGBT community – the Pope. He has taken anti-gay messages to a new level by condemning gay marriage even in his yearly message of so called ‘Peace’, calling us a threat to peace and saying that we live in a different reality. But don’t worry friends; he is just an angry old man who is fighting a losing battle.

Tell your friends; tell your families not to fear for us. Gays are successful in every profession. When your friend takes out an iPhone tell him the CEO of Apple, Tim Cook is gay. Every major company has gay employees at their top positions. If someone is looking at stock market, tell him the Wall Street is controlled by gays. If they talk about Harvard, Yale or any other top university, tell them every fourth guy there is gay. If they talk about astronauts, tell them that Sally Field, the first woman to go to Space was a lesbian. Yes it’s true; we haven’t even left the space. We are everywhere and from 2013 we will run the world.

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