A Guest Post by Tj
To quote singer Rob Thomas:
“Our lives are made in these small hours. These little wonders, these twists and turns of fate. Time falls away but these small hours, These little wonders still remain.”*
Can you believe that 8,760 hours just flew by?! That’s 365 days by the way, which are a lot of hours come and gone and what do we have to show for it?
Well I’m pleased to be able to say that we have made some wonderful strides toward equal rights for LGBTQ people in 2013. A very significant development in the United States happened in June when our Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act. Enacted in 1996, DOMA barred the Federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, which effects those couples rights in regards to income taxes, immigration and Federal benefits. This is good news since the momentum of legalizing same-sex marriage seems to be spreading not only in our country – where we just added New Mexico and Utah, but also around the globe where England, Wales and France joined the movement this year.
Although progress has been made, there are still some 76 nations where being gay is illegal. And sadly in some cases, our rights have been taken away – such as in India, where the recent reversal of a 2009 court ruling, resulted in the reinstatement of a colonial era law making gay sex illegal. Although their government is requesting that the Supreme Court strike down this law once again, gay sex is presently a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. And in Uganda, a similar colonial era law still exists criminalizing homosexuality, but a recent law passed carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”. Unbelievably, the original version of the law called for the death penalty. If you’d like more information, I’m linking to a 2 minute video of where we are with LGBT rights from the UN. UN’s Free and Equal campaign.
On what should be a lighter note, here come the Winter Olympics, which is usually cause for great excitement. But the upcoming games being hosted by Russia have been overshadowed by the Russian anti gay propaganda law. This has caused quite a bit of backlash, with human rights activists calling for the Olympic committee to take a stand, or for countries to simply not send their delegates or competitors. As much as I do think we need to take some kind of stand, I would hate to see our young Olympians and their families who have sacrificed so much, miss out on the opportunity to compete. How could we ask competitors like gymnast Jake Dalton (yes, the pictured hot shirtless guy) to stay home and deprive him the joy of competing and us the joy of watching him?
As the opening ceremonies get closer, we are seeing some countries taking a stand. So far the German and French Presidents, the European Union Commissioner, and most recently our US President and Vice President have all announced that they will not attend the games. President Obama has also named the US delegation for the Opening and Closing ceremonies, and included three out athletes; tennis legend Bille Jean King, Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow (Ice Hockey) and Olympic medal winner Brian Boitano (Figure Skating), who incidentally just came out publicly after he was chosen. When asked about his choices for the US delegation, President Obama simply said “The delegation speaks for itself”.
On a side note, speaking of the Olympics, I’m very sad to inform you that there will be no more hot men in singlets in the future, as the IOC has sadly decided to cut wrestling from the 2020 games. I’m just relieved that my favorite event – curling – is still being held. They really need tighter uniforms though. Maybe they could wear singlets now that wrestling is gone? That’ll get people watching!
And speaking of people watching, I do agree with those who say that part of gaining acceptance and equality is visibility. So it’s always wonderful to see those in the limelight come out publicly to provide not only that visibility, but role models for young people. In that regard 2013 did not disappoint. We started the year with what seems to be a new trend – a very subtle coming out. Actor Matt Dallas (his picture is at the top) simply tweeted “Starting off the Year with a new fiancé @bluehamilton. A great way to kick off 2013!”. It’s amazing and kind of wonderful to me how casual coming out is becoming. And an interesting development this year was a greater number of people coming out as bisexual, fluid sexually, or simply without defining themselves as gay. This would seem to support the belief that sexuality is not black and white, but perhaps more shades of gray.
Once the closet door was thrown open, the momentum seemed to build as the year passed and soon we had people from all ages and walks of life joining the party – from high school senior Jacob Rudolf’s coming out at an awards ceremony (you can watch the video here) or Ted Chalfen’s very moving graduation speech thanking his classmates for treating him so kindly (I highly recommend you watch him here), to music industry icon Clive Davis coming out in his golden years after two failed marriages.
We saw actor Wentworth Miller (pictured to the right) come out in a letter declining an invitation to travel to Russia as a guest of honor for the St. Petersburg International Film Festival saying in part “…as a gay man I must decline… I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.” If you’d like to see who else joined the club this year, Andy Towle on his Towleroad blog did a concise post on the 53 Most Powerful coming out stories, which includes those I’ve named as well as an surprising cross section of society – actors, politicians, and amazingly a few athletes. You should take a few minutes and browse the list here.
And while having more visibility of out and proud public figures is very important, we of course need our straight brothers and sisters to accept and support us, as retired Rugby player Ben Cohen has been doing for years with his Stand Up Foundation, which focuses on raising awareness of the harm caused by bullying. To brighten your day, I give you:
The Warwick Rowers 2014 Anti Homophobia calendar. They’ve been doing this for a few years now, but I’m still amazed that this group of young men is willing to bare it all to fight homophobia. It gives me hope for the future of our society that maybe one day, hopefully in my lifetime, this won’t be necessary. Although I hope they keep making the calendar regardless! You can read about them, watch a very NSFW video and pick up a calendar here. For those of you who can’t get enough naked men, outspoken LGBT advocate David Mixner just wrote a post on his “Live From a Hell’s Kitchen” blog about the “naked craze” that these rowers have sparked, including NSFW pictures that you can see here. Here’s hoping this craze spreads internationally.
And just to prove that getting your kit off isn’t all you can do, we have straight German celebs pushing the envelope in a different way with their “Kiss to Fight Homophobia” campaign in German GQ. The men are very easy on the eyes and the pictures and video speak for themselves. There’s even a three way for Wave! You can see a making of video here. It’s not in English, but there are subtitles.
If you’d like to read about some more gay allies, there’s a very comprehensive article on the Huffington Post “21 of the Biggest LGBT Allies of 2013”, I highly recommend watching Florida Democratic Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s short (2 minute) interview where she tells the story of explaining what gay people are to her young son and then reaps the benefit of her open-mindedness when he’s older. What a wonderful mother and a very touching story that’ll leave you smiling. And if you’d like to see more top stories for 2013, here’s a link to the Huffington Post’s “22 Biggest Queer Political Stories Of 2013”.
And now, on a personal note, it saddens me to say that this will be my final post for this site. I’d like to take a moment to thank Wave for her unfailing support of the gay community, the M/M genre and me personally. I’ve learned so much over the last few years, not only about writing an objective and compelling review from the ever eloquent Wave (and Aunt Lynn), but also about really giving of yourself and standing up for what you believe in no matter what your critics say. Also thank you to all of the authors, publishers, fellow reviewers and of course you readers who I’ve had the pleasure of talking with about the thing that we love – books.
Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say a special thank you for those outrageously hilarious review comment exchanges – often keeping me up way past my east coast bedtime. Buda, Ethan Day, Aunt Lynn and of course Wave would have me laughing so hard I could barely type a response. I can’t tell you how many times a perfectly respectable post would get dragged into the gutter by our insanity. :censorship: It was a successful day when we got Ethan to declare us all crazy! And I quote:
“LOL! You guys are ALL, at the very least, as nutty as I am!! And that’s sayin’ sumthin’ : )”
I’m still waiting for the Meat reunion – (the gay boy-band made up of Ethan, Buda, Cole and myself). And despite no longer needing to fight over reviewing Ethan Day’s next book, I want my jello wrestling rematch with Aunt Lynn (even though she cheats with her low center of gravity) :grumble: and Buda – and Ethan too (just because :flirt: ). And one of these days Wave may finally get her tweeted M/M book and she can throw all of our pamphlet comments back at us!
I believe that Rob Thomas is right – “Time falls away but these small hours, These little wonders still remain.”* The many hours spent online with all of these wonderful people will stay with me long after this site has gone dark. :biglove:
*The lyrics quoted are from Rob Thomas’ Little Wonders. You can watch his official video on YouTube here.