The best (and worst) of 2010
There were a few bright spots in a year of political setbacks.
Fri Dec 17 2010
Photograph: Joan Marcus
Armor against bullies
In September, Governor Paterson signed into law the Dignity for All Students Act—an amendment to the New York education laws' antiharassment prohibition that adds sexuality and gender expression to the list of protected categories. For queer kids, this was a soothing pat on the back in a year of violent smackdowns.
Response to shocking news
Suicides, bullies, violent attacks...At times it seemed the state of LGBT existence had entered a 1950s time warp. But ever-resilient New Yorkers displayed a fierce spirit that proved time and again that we were truly living in 2010. Protest marches, flash mobs, candlelight vigils—and even a hunger strike—swung back against violence and inequality. And NYC donations and volunteerism rose sharply at the Trevor Project, home to the only help line for suicidal gay teens, while New York benefit events for the organization have more than doubled since 2009.
Proof that gays are good for business
Sure, the economy sucks. But that didn't slow down the gaytrepreneurs who brought us a slew of new places to call our own. Industry Bar and Flavor Lounge in Hell's Kitchen, Boxers NYC in Chelsea, Zuzies eatery inside Astoria's Mix Cafe & Lounge (from a cofounder of Shescape), Tagg boutique in Hell's Kitchen and, in cyberspace, the just-launched (and very promising) Fab.com social- networking site are all among the exciting new additions. Add to that the start of construction on the OUT NYC gay--hotel-nightclub resort in Hell's Kitchen—and the fact that four LGBT nonprofits (FIERCE, Queers for Economic Justice, Sylvia Rivera Law Project, Audre Lorde Project) were able to score new digs in one Chelsea building—and you'd be forgiven for mistaking this time for a boon.
Chances to see ourselves onstage
It was no surprise that the Signature Theatre Company's production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America is brilliant, but confirming the suspicion was certainly a thrill. The dreamy team of director Michael Greif and actors including Frank Wood, Christian Borle, Zachary Quinto and Billy Porter made for one indelible night at the theater—as did a worthy crop of other gay-themed plays in 2010, including The Pride and the musicals La Cages Aux Folles and Yank!
News for young LGBT people
The widely reported suicides of youths Tyler Clementi, Raymond Chase, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas and Seth Walsh—not to mention those of out adult NYC activists Mosey Alexander and Joseph Jefferson—shook the queer community to its core. And the deaths were swiftly followed by a Bloomberg administration drop-kick: slashing support for homeless youth programs, which reduces funding for drop-in centers (such as the vital Ali Forney Center and MCCNY Homeless Youth Services) by up to one half and will phase out all street-outreach funding for homeless youth. NYC already has approximately 3,800 youth sleeping on its streets—more than 1,000 of which are LGBT.
Reminder of how far we've yet to go
A spate of brutal antigay attacks—several in supposedly gay-safe Manhattan 'hoods—provided sickening proof (as if we needed any) that political votes against gay rights do have trickle-down results. West Village bar patrons were attacked, chillingly, within both Julius' Bar and the Stonewall Inn. In the Bronx, two men were called "faggots" and roughed up while waiting to be served in a restaurant. Another man was stabbed in the back during a street attack. And in the most widely reported incident, three men were held captive and tortured by nearly a dozen members of the Latin Kings Goonies—three of whom had charges against them dropped.
Move toward censorship within the art world
The late NYC art star David Wojnarowicz was certainly turning over in his grave in November. That's when the National Portrait Gallery in D.C. bowed to pressure from the Catholic League, removing Wojnarowicz's silent short film, "A Fire in My Belly," from the otherwise groundbreaking "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture." WTF? At least New York's Warhol Foundation threatened to cut off its funding in response.