2012 has been a great year for LGBT rights and culture, with Obama still in office and equal marriage being debated here in Britain, there has been plenty of news widely discussed. But here’s 10 overlooked things from the past year, that you might have missed…
Mexico has become the first country in North America to lift this ban, ahead of the USA. The concern of HIV and AIDS remains, but instead of banning all gay and bisexual men, it has done the sensible thing of instead banning those who did not test negative for AIDS or who do not have a safe sex background – such as sex workers. These really are some progressive steps for Latin America.
Ryan Andresen had completed all he needed for the highest honour of boy scouts – the eagle award. He was out as gay where he lived and therefore refused his reward. His mother helped him start up a petition to fight the Boy Scouts for her son’s right to have his achievement recognised. In a wave of support, Ryan says that scouts were sending him their awards and he was even given money for a college scholarship on the Ellen Degeneres show. Sadly the scouts kept their stance and say that Ryan is no longer eligible to be a scout.
Although the Mormon Church has always refused to support to the LGBT community, the first olive branch has been offered in the form of a new website. It suggests that churchgoers are becoming more compassionate in discussions and there has been a drop in the number of parents disowning gay children following the equal marriage progress in the USA. It may still be a largely homophobic institute, but this first sign of development will hopefully shape a new future for the Mormon Church.
We had all the colours of the rainbow on this year’s X factor, with a diverse group of LGBT contestants. From the bisexual Charlie in MK1, the fabulous Rylan, early favourite and tomboy Lucy Spraggan, Jaymi from Union J, the older Chris Maloney, to single mum Jade. That’s a grand total of 6, showing a huge UK audience that LGBT comes in many different forms, and that we can also make some damn good music.
The owners of a B&B found themselves in court after refusing to accommodate a gay couple. The case was eventually won in favour of the couple, but not before it caused a storm of controversy. Debates broke out over the rights of the owners to refuse whoever they wish, with BNP leader Nick Griffin tweeting encouragement for a demonstration outside their home – highlighting prejudice still present in the UK that we need to fight.
When reality TV show ‘The Real L Word’ returned for a third series, one of its stars, Romi Klinger, announced that she was dating her ex-boyfriend. This caused a huge uproar amongst fans and she received a lot of abuse for her decision – outraged that she had supposedly turned her back on women. The star defended her place on the show, explaining she is bisexual, but was looked down on by the other stars for being ‘not gay.’ She said that she was seen as a traitor in the gay community, but she also received a lot of support from people who identified with her. The show kept her on and the series ended with her marriage in Vegas – to a man.
When the American department store JC Penney hired famous lesbian and talk show host Ellen Degeneres as their spokesperson in February, the conservative group ‘One Million Moms’ were outraged and launched into protest with claims that hiring a gay spokesperson will put off customers. Their protest was met with a petition by Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) to thank JC Penney for hiring Ellen and raising awareness that in 29 US states it was legal to fire someone for being gay. JC Penney thankfully kept Ellen as spokesperson, and did not back down. Later in the year, when they released an advert featuring her, the moms fired up again saying that they will avoid JC Penney at all costs. Many met this with laughter, saying it was ridiculous and there was nothing offensive about the advert, which featured Ellen talking to three elves.
Jenna Talackova had qualified for the finals in the Miss Canada beauty pageant when she was disqualified and hit the news. It came out that she was in fact male to female transgendered. The Miss Universe Organization had disqualified her for supposedly lying on her application where she had said she was born a female, though this was not the case, but many saw it as a transphobic action. Luckily for her, the Organization ruled to allow her to compete. She may not have won a crown, but it was a step for transgender rights, and she is now set to appear on a reality TV show, in turn promoting trans visibility.
“I feel like there is no other show on television that has done more for gay characters and more for gay storylines than Glee,” said Glee’s creator, Ryan Murphy. That much is certainly true; the ongoing gay relationships of Kurt and Blaine and also Brittany and Santana (Brittany identifies as bisexual) and now the introduction of the transgender character Unique, mean that the show has hit every letter of LGBT. Not a bad achievement for such a popular family show.
A Danish zoo observed that after a female abandoned her egg, it was adopted by two Dads who have been working together as parents. They are not the first penguins to be observed doing this, but they are the first King penguins. The zoo reports that they are a loving family to their baby chick – a big step for gay penguin rights everywhere, and maybe an example that some humans could perhaps do with following.