Sometimes being a homo and reading the news can feel like being strapped to a chair and made to watch your own snuff film on loop. The stories of persecution seem endless. Despite our shared love of leather, shaved heads and moustaches, in 2014 it seemed that fascists and gays still couldn't see eye to eye.
It's a familiar standoff that led to all manner of fresh abominations. There was Putin's anti-gay propaganda law and the consequent effect it has had on the lives of Russia's LGBT population. And imagine how it felt to be an LGBT person in Uganda when the country's "Kill the Gays" bill was overturned in August, only to find out, last month, that another, even more draconian law was in the works. Merry fucking Christmas.
It's important not to forget the localized news stories and everyday bullshit
faced by gay people everywhere last year, but, for the sake of not giving homophobes the time of day, here's a breakdown of all the good things that happened in the world of gay in 2014.
WE GOT MARRIED
Lots of gay people don't want to get married because it's quite heterosexual and reminds them of their parents, but many do, and it's really only fair that they should be allowed to. In March last year that became a possibility in the UK and I was lucky enough to get drunk and cry at the first ever gay wedding. Despite not knowing a single person there (I was "reporting"), I ate till I felt sick, did the Macarena with the guests, and completely rinsed the free bar. Turns out that for all the perverse sex they have, gay people are really accommodating.
For now, same-sex marriage is legal in only 16 countries (there are 196 countries, to put things into perspective) and 35 states within America. Thankfully, some gay people found ways around that. An honorary mention should go out to the lesbian couple who managed to get married in Russia last year, right under Putin's nose. Then there was the determined gay couple who went right ahead and married each other in Egypt, despite presumably knowing what kind of dire consequences they would later face. (Both grooms and five other wedding attendees were jailed for three years for "angering God.") And finally, shouts to Grace Gelder, the woman who married herself.
Because gay people are smarter than straight people, they have a whole other cultural currency, and it's called "camp." Lots of camp things happened last year – things that meant absolutely nothing to most people but made up landmark events in the gay calendar. Here are some of them:
- Lindsay Lohan was in a West End play
- Drag sensation Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest
- Nick Jonas became the king of the twinks
- All Saints played one reunion gig at G-A-Y then broke up again
- Joan Rivers died and everybody paid her respect where due
- Cher continued her reign as queen of Twitter and the world
- Dolly Parton headlined Glastonbury
- Andrew Logan's Alternative Miss World drag pageant came back to the UK
- Britney ruled Las Vegas and has created a range of haircare products exclusively for Lidl
- Taylor Swift ~ arguably ~ won over gay audiences
- And LGBT people everywhere found themselves a new leader:
- Scientists identified what is probably the biggest evidence yet that sexual orientation is genetic.
- Another study found that homosexuality may help us bond, and that when people have higher levels of progesterone in their saliva – a hormone linked to bonding – they're more likely to be up for sleeping with people of the same sex. The experiment reinforces the idea that, for humans, on a base level, sex is about more than just reproduction. Basically, it's natural that we have sex for a bunch of reasons beyond the evolutionary, and that's OK.
TRANS PEOPLE RECEIVED POSITIVE MEDIA ATTENTION. FINALLY.
And no one is a bigger attention seeker than VICE columnist Paris Lees, so I'll leave it to her to fill you in on what happened in the world of trans last year.
GAY PRIDE MARCHES RAGED ON
Several European countries held successful Pride events. Serbia's capital Belgrade held its first in four years. Back in 2010, violence broke out after the interference of nationalists, but last year the parade returned with the biggest turn out to date—even if police did outnumber those actually marching.
In London, gay pride seems to be getting less gay. I used to like gay pride when it was full of terrifying South London studs and badly dressed gays peeing behind thin layers of foliage in Soho Square. Now, it's become so all-encompassing that it resembles a hen party destination more than a gay club: a tourist rite of passage replete with straight, middle-aged women wearing feather boas and drinking Cava out of plastic cups.
In the same vein, last year's LA gay pride was appropriated by American artist Demi Lovato for her music video "Really Don't Care," featuring Cher Lloyd. Without going down the rabbit hole of how or why Cher Lloyd is big in America, let's just acknowledge that it's a rarity to see pop stars aligning themselves with gay pride. Similarly unexpected was Burger King's decision to cash in on San Francisco Pride with this viral video campaign featuring the special "Rainbow Whopper"—the punchline being that despite its name, it was no different to a normal burger.
Probably the best example of gay and straight solidarity in 2014 though, was the global outrage triggered by Putin's anti-gay propaganda law. At street level, protests against the law popped up across the West. One man, Pyotr Pavlensky, even nailed his balls to the floor of the Kremlin in a violent act of indignation toward the police state.
The UK government isn't known for tough intervention when it comes to LGBT foreign policy, and refused to boycott Russia's Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics in order to put pressure on Putin. The US, however, did boycott, with Obama refusing to attend and sending gay athletes to compete as a middle finger to Putin. Credit where it's due.
Overall then, we should all take a bit of pride in the fact that in 2014 gay and straight people came out, en masse, to support equality together.
A BUNCH OF CELEBRITIES CAME OUT AND MADE US FEEL MORE NORMAL
Talking of coming out, 2014 was a big year for gays in the media. Tom Daley told us nothing his tan hadn't told us already when he came out last December, and continues to talk openly about his sexuality. Likewise: Sam Smith. Does no one kind of think he looks like Divine? Meanwhile, in the US Apple CEO Tim Cook came out in October, highlighting just how few openly gay CEOs there are working in business and tech in the process.
And finally, Cara Delevingne became the world's much needed try-sexual icon. From her fairytale romance with Michelle Rodriguez, to her bad snapbacks, she gave LGBTQI-don't-really-know-I-just-want-to-get-on-everything girls everywhere a role model who was unapologetic about her sexuality. (Though of course she is afforded the status of being open about her sexuality by her social privilege, and a lot of women across the world aren't so lucky.)
Here are the important bits:
That's the year in gay! Cheers, and Happy New Year.