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2010: The Year in Queer

2011 January 4
by Genya Shimkin

In honor of my favorite TV lesbian, Rachel Maddow, I’d like to take a moment and highlight some “holy mackerel” stories that flew under the radar this year, and a few that were just underreported or that I think didn’t get enough attention.  While the year certainly ended on a high note for gays with the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the stories throughout the year were not always as positive.  Here are a few you might have missed:

  • The 2010 Winter Olympics were the first-ever to feature a Pride House, where gay athletes could gather and hang out.  Despite this gesture, homophobia was alive and well at the games.  Eddie McGuire and Mick Molloy made homophobic comments about Johnny Weir, who was accused of being too gay for figure skating.  (Really?  Is there a gayer sport?)  Weir is rarely discussed without an adjective like “flamboyant,” “dramatic,” or “feminine,” words that seem to imply he is somehow undeserving of the “male athlete” label.   For the record, despite the assumptions of many, Weir has never publicly discussed his sexuality other than saying, “… it’s not part of my sport and it’s private.  I can sleep with whomever I choose and it doesn’t affect what I’m doing on the ice.”
  • A man with the code name “Berlin Patient” was cured of his HIV after receiving a bone marrow transplant to treat his leukemia.  He appears to have received this transplant from someone with a genetic immunity to HIV.  Much more research is needed to figure out how this happened, and to determine how many people have this immunity.  But still, it’s pretty amazing!  In other HIV-related news, tests of pre-exposure prophylaxis (PREP), showed that taking anti-retroviral drugs could prevent HIV-transmission in gay men.  (I wrote about this for TBS last month; find it here.)

  • In his most successful web campaign since www.spreadingsantorum.com, and in response to a group of gay-teen suicides, sex columnist Dan Savage launched the It Gets Better project, in which celebrities, politicians, and everyday homos-next-door speak to LGBT kids about the importance of finding supportive communities, reaching out, asking for help, and being true to themselves.
  • Katy Perry tried to position herself as a gay icon (a few years ago she even made Out Magazine’s “OUT 100”), despite writing a song called “UR So Gay” which included the lyrics “I hope you hang yourself with your H&M scarf/ While jacking off listening to Mozart.”  Oh, and she made her name with a song that trivializes the experiences of young queer women by suggesting that making out with girls is a good way to attract men.  “I don’t even know her name…she’s my experimental game.”  For some of us, Katy, it’s not a game.
  • The GOP censored The Smithsonian.  I know I already wrote a TBS piece about this, but I’m still so angry!
  • Anna Paquin came out as bisexual in a PSA for a gay rights group.  Later this year, she married her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer.  Cindy McCain appeared in the PSA with Paquin, opposing her husband’s stance on DADT, but soon recanted, saying she supports his position.
  • This year’s Emmy nominees for “Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series” included two gay men playing gay characters (Jesse Tyler Ferguson in Modern Family and Chris Colfer in Glee), one gay man playing a straight man (Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother), and one straight man playing a gay man (winner Eric Stonestreet in Modern Family).  This means that a full 50% of nominees were gay men.
  • Porn Star Derrick Burts (known to viewers of his hetero-work as Cameron Reid and homo-work as Derek Chambers) tested positive for HIV, and blew the lid off of the gay-for-pay scene (if there was a lid at all).  His diagnosis revealed an alarming level of homophobia and ignorance among some of his peers, as evidenced by their quotes in a piece from “The Daily Beast.”  Burts is now on a mission to put condoms on performers.
  • While December’s repeal of DADT was certainly a high point, I’ve spent a lot of time since the repeal reminding people that a full repeal necessitates a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act, which precludes the federal government (and thus, the military) from recognizing same-sex unions.  So while gay and lesbian soldiers can now serve openly, their partners and children remain excluded from military benefits.
  • Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis shared an intense, drug-induced, lesbian sex scene in Black Swan.  Let’s see how many of this year’s best actress nominees starred in lesbian sex scenes.  (Julianne Moore and/or Annette Benning look like shoe-ins for “The Kids are Alright.”)
  • So we end on a high note, there’s this:  Pat Robertson insisted that the blizzard that hit the northeast last week was God’s way of “punish[ing] Americans who were planning to drive to do something gay.”  He added, “Because of the bad road conditions the Almighty has made, any gay activities that people were planning on doing will have to be postponed by a day or two.”  Wow.  I guess that makes my Aunt and Uncle’s 40th anniversary party- which was delayed one day due to snow- a gay event.  My favorite part of Robertson’s theory?  His thoughts on all of the straight people stuck in New York: “I think God probably wonders, if these people are really straight, then what are they doing in New York?”  What indeed.

Happy New Year, and here’s to 2011!  May the next year bring us closer to each other, closer to peaceful coexistence, and closer to the invention of a working time machine.  Hа здоровьe!  To your health!

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