The best (and worst) of 2007
Thu Dec 27 2007
...response to an asinine claim
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inspired a range of reactions—angry protests, praises of free speech, intense curiosity—when he spoke at Columbia University in September. But when he made his now-infamous announcement that "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like you do in your country. We do not have this phenomenon," it prompted a uniform response from his audience: flat-out laughter. It was the perfect spontaneous answer—though nobody would have been faulted for crying, either, as the penalty for being queer in Iran is death.
...sign that NYC isn't totally behind the gay-marriage curve
Two New York victories on the right-to-wed front came in 2007 (along with the biggie in Massachusetts, which rejected a 2008 ballot question that would have overturned marriage equality there). In September, an Albany judge ruled that New York State should recognize gay marriages that were performed out of state. And back in June came the Assembly's historic approval of Daniel O'Donnell's same-sex marriage bill, which now moves on to a much more challenging task: making it through the Republican-controlled, Joe Bruno--led Senate. Stay tuned.
...sign of bravery within the public-school system
Educators are historically among the most closeted groups around (along with Hollywood celebs, of course). So it was no small moment when Randi Weingarten, head of New York City's United Federation of Teachers, took National Coming Out Day to heart and acknowledged that she is a lesbian while addressing the annual fall dinner of the Empire State Pride Agenda.
After changing hands and being shuttered for nearly a year, a renovated Stonewall Inn—a.k.a. the birthplace of gay rights—reopened in February, with an eye on drawing in lesbians and a younger, hipper crowd. At least one party—Victoria, for "FTFs and faux queens, and the gay men trapped in our vaginas"—is doing just that.
...plan to keep the Stonewall Inn in business
Let's face it: The bar is probably mostly sought out by tourists—Europeans and Midwesterners who want to see where those fierce drag queens lost it back in '69. And so it's good news (for the watering hole, at least) that, as of December, the city of New York has launched a $30 million ad campaign—targeting 19 countries as well as Logo viewers and Out readers—to draw even more queer visitors to our homo-heavy town. Gay money talks.
...blows to queer NYC culture
Several people and places up and left us this year, saddling us with serious abandonment issues. Among those we will miss most: the Roxy and Mr. Black clubs, Motherfucker parties, Carroll & Graf publishers, Identity House counseling center, drag queen Edie and trans celeb Candis Cayne, who's off to Hollywood with hubby Marco.
...excuses for gay TV
You know there's something wrong when the most burning question of the year was "Will Tila pick the dyke or the dude?" Sure, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila was a titillating bi-fest, but 2007 was generally a sad, sad year for queer TV. GLAAD estimates that LGBT scripted characters represent only 1.1 percent of all series regulars on the five broadcast networks. Worse than that, though, are the pickings on the queer TV stations—the painful Exes & Ohs, constant Logo comedy specials, unwatchable Here TV films. When will we do the boob tube right?
...ending to a long fight
The House approved the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA)—which seeks to protect people from employment discrimination based on sexual orientation—in November. But what would have been a sweet victory became bitter, as ENDA didn't include protections against gender-identity--based discrimination, as originally planned. The "gender-identity" part was cut out in political backroom dealings between representatives (led by Barney Frank, sadly) and the annoying Human Rights Campaign. It left all self-respecting LGBT-rights fans asking, "Where's the T?"
...losses in the LGBT community
This year's crop of gay deaths affected all corners. Among those we miss already: Barbara Gittings, pioneering lesbian activist who founded New York's Daughters of Bilitis chapter in 1958; longtime NYC gay activist and Gay Liberation Front cofounder Bob Kohler; downtown performance icon Dean Johnson; "Godfather of Disco" Mel Cheren, who passed through the velvet ropes in the sky in December.
Report card: Entertainment was weak, but politics presented glimmers of hope. Still, we need it all.