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January 2013

President Clinton Announces Plan to End Military's Ban on Gay Soliders (January 29, 1993)

President_clintonJust a week into President Clinton's first term he called his first press conference on January 29, 1993 to announce his plan to lift the U.S. military's longstanding policy banning gay men and lesbians from serving in the Armed Services.  This created a firestorm of opposition from the military and conservatives who were dead set against this change in policy.  They used all of the shoddy and innacurate ammuntion in their arsenal to prevent the president's plan from coming to fruition.


Integration of gays into society was anathema to conservatives, especially if it showed them in a positive, patriotic light.  Instead, they wished to perpetuate the stereotype of gay men as nothing more than silly drag queens at Gay Pride parades.  Giving them the opportunity to be seen as defenders of the nation did not sit well with homophobes of the right wing.




Don't_ask_don't_tellSix months later, despite the president's good intentions, the infamous "don't ask, don't tell" directive was unveiled.  It would be 18 years before this deeply flawed policy was repealed.  During these intervening years 14,000 soldiers were investigated and expelled from the various branches of the military, wasting billions of taxpayer dollars.  The closed mindedness of conservatives had trumped the nation's security.

Reviewing the Year in Gay History: 2013



Jan 1 - The first same-sex marriages take place in Maryland.

Jan 13 - At the Golden Globes, Jodie Foster sorta/kinda comes out while accepting a lifetime achievement award.




Jan 15 - 80-year old actor/singer Jim Nabors, most famous for playing the title role in the 1960's CBS sitcom, Gomer Pyle, marries his partner of 38 years in Seattle.

Jan 21 - In his inaugural address, President Obama makes a reference to Stonewall and is the first president to mention gay rights in an inaugural address.




Feb 3 - Hungarian-born, gay porn superstar Arpad Miklos is found dead in his Manhattan apartment, apparently the victim of a suicide.  He was just 45 years old.




Feb 20 - In a new TV commercial for the Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, a woman reading at the beach informs a man, whom she thinks is flirting with her, that her husband is at the bar getting her a drink.  The fellow then replies that his husband is at the bar as well!




Feb 24 - The Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles appears very briefly during the opening of tonight's Academy Awards telecast, joining host Seth MacFarlane in a song called I Saw Your Boobs

Feb 25 - Gay divorce is the cover story of this week's issue of New York Magazine (cover date 3/4).




March 6 - Mexico's Supreme Court rules that anti-gay expressions like 'maricon' are not protected under the constitution's Freedom of Expression.

March 15 - In a blow to the Republican party's anti-gay platform, Republican senator Rob Portman of Ohio reverses his stand against same-sex marriage in support of his gay son.

April 6 - Liza Minnelli makes a guest appearance as herself on tonight's episode of Smash.




April 17 - New Zealand becomes the 13th nation to legalize same-sex marriage.

April 29 - NBA veteran Jason Collins becomes the first active player of one of the Big Four sports leagues to come out.  He did it in an interview in Sports Illustrated, which hit newsstands today.




May 2 - Rhode Island becomes the 10th state to legalize same-sex marriage.

May 7 - Less than a week after Rhode Island, Delaware's governor signs into law legislation legalizing same-sex marriage there. 

May 7 - Famed club DJ and music producer, Peter Rauhofer, dies from a brain tumor at the age of 48.




May 10 - Despite sporting the Ryan Murphy pedigree, his NBC sitcom about gay parenting, The New Normal, is cancelled after one season.

May 14 - Minnesota becomes the 12th state to legalize same-sex marriage.  56 million Americans, or 18% of the US population, now live in states that allow gay couples to marry.

May 17 - Michael Musto, the Village Voice's iconic entertainment and gossip columnist, is let go by the paper after nearly 30 years.




May 18 - France becomes the 14th nation to legalize same-sex marriage.  With a population of 65 million, it passed South Africa as the most populous country where same-sex couples can marry.

May 18 - On Saturday Night Live, a parody TV commercial airs for "Zanax for Gay Summer Weddings", formulated for heterosexuals attending gay weddings who feel insecure because of how perfect they are.




May 23 - The Boy Scouts of America vote to allow openly gay youths as members, while continuing its policy of excluding openly gay adult leaders. 

May 26 - The TV movie, Behind the Candelabra, airs on HBO.  It looks at the relationship of Liberace (played by Michael Douglas) and his much younger lover, Scott Thorson (played by Matt Damon).

June 3 - The Fosters, a drama about a lesbian couple raising their family of inter-racial children, debuts on ABC Family.

June 20  - Exodus International, a ministry that claimed people could change their sexual orientiation from homosexual to heterosexual through reparative therapy, announces it will shut down after 37 years of operation.  Its president also issues a profuse apology.




June 26 - In two landmark decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court overturns DOMA and also upholds an earlier Circuit court ruling that invalidated Prop 8 in California, thus restoring same-sex marriage in the nation's most populous state.

June 30 - In honor of Gay Pride Day and the legalization of gay marriage in Washington state, the Seattle Mariners become the first Major League Baseball team to fly the rainbow flag at a game.




June 30 - Russian president, Vladimir Putin, signs into law legislation that bans gay "propaganda".

July 1 - This week's issue of the New Yorker celebrates week's Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage by showing Bert & Ernie on its cover snuggling in front of the TV.  

July 11 - Orange is the New Black, a drama set in a women's prison, debuts on Netflix.




July 17 - With Queen Elizabeth giving her royal stamp of approval to Parliament's legislation, England legalizes same-sex marriage.

July 28 - Just four months into his papacy, Pope Francis makes a surprisingly compassionate comment about gay priests, saying that "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" It is also notable that he uses the term "gay" rather than "homosexual".




Aug 2 - Secretary of State John Kerry announces that effectively immediately the US will treat visa applications of married same-sex couples in the same manner as opposite-sex spouses. 

Aug 11 - Chelsea's popular bar Splash closes after nearly 22 years, unable to staunch the flow of patrons to bars and clubs in Hell's Kitchen. 

Aug 28 - The Internal Revenue Service announces that all same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized as such for federal tax purposes, even if the state where they live doesn't recognize their union.

Sept 2 - In her fifth attempt, 64-year-old lesbian swimmer, Diana Nyad, successfully swims for 53 hours between Havana, Cuba and Key West - without a shark cage.

Sept 22 - For the third time in the past four years openly gay actor Jim Parsons wins the Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Sitcom for his portrayal of lovable science nerd Sheldon on CBS's The Big Bang Theory.

Sept 26 - In its 11th season, CBS's hit sitcom Two and a Half Men replaces its "half man" with the lesbian daughter of one of the Two Men.




Oct 3 - For the first time since co-starring on Will & Grace seven years earlier, Sean Hayes returns to NBC in the sitcom Sean Saves the World, playing a gay man raising his teen daughter.  

Oct 21 - The first gay marriages take place in New Jersey, the 14th state to legalize them.

Oct 25 - The lesbian drama, and winner of the Palme de Or at Cannes, Blue is the Warmest Color, opens in US theaters.  Much attention is given to the NC-17-rated movie's explicit 7-minute sex scene.




Nov 5 - Openly gay Washington state senator Ed Murray is elected mayor of Seattle and delivers his acceptance speech with his husband at his side. 

Nov 20 - Illinois joins 15 other states and DC in legalizing same-sex marriage.

Nov 22 - The movie Philomena opens.  It tells the true story of Philomena Lee, who searched for her son Michael 50 years after she game him up for adoption.  In the course of her search she discovers that he was gay and died of AIDS.

Dec 10 - India's Supreme Court declares homosexual sex illegal, reversing a ruling four years ago that had struck down the ban.  

Dec 19 - To absolutely no one's surprise, figure skating great Brian Boitano, who won a gold medal for the US at the 1988 Winter Olympics, finally came out.  This came two months after he turned 50.




Dec 19 - New Mexico's Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage, the sixth state to legalize it in 2013 and seventeenth state overall (and DC).


 To read about LGBT milestones from other years, double click here.

Barry Manilow Sings "National Anthem" at Super Bowl (January 22, 1984)

Young_barry_manilow Female vocalists asked to sing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl have outnumbered male vocalists by 2:1.  This select group of male singers includes Barry Manilow, who was given the honor in 1984 at Super Bowl XVIII - the same Super Bowl made memorable for airing Apple's famous "1984" TV commercial that introduced the company's new Macintosh computer.  (Beyonce's singing of the Anthem in 2004 was similarly overshadowed - by the scandalous "Nipplegate" incident during halftime.) 


(Unfortunately, the clip of BM's performance that used to be in this space is no longer available.)


In addition to Manilow, other male singers who've sung the Star Spangled Banner include Neil Diamond; Billy Joel (twice); Aaron Neville (once solo, once w/Aretha Franklin); Harry Connick, Jr.; and Garth Brooks.  Other divas have included Cher; Diana Ross; Whitney Houston; Mariah Carey; Jennifer Hudson - and Luther Vandross (in 1997).      

Rudy Galindo Wins Men's Figure Skating Championship at U.S. Nationals (January 20, 1996)

Rudygalindo.triumphant26-year-old Rudy Galindo won the men's figure skating title at the US Championships on Jan. 20, 1996.  It was the eighth time he competed in the Nationals, a competition he previously had never placed higher than fifth in - until this year.  Going into the "long program", Galindo was in third place but then dazzled the judges with his Swan Lake program (for added pressure, he skated last).  What made his title even sweeter was the fact that 1) the Nationals were held that year in his hometown of San Jose, CA and 2) he had publicly come out shortly before the competition.  This gave him the distinction of being the first openly gay man to win a figure skating title.  And fifteen years before Johnny Weir raised eyebrows with his flamboyant skating outfits, Galindo did the same.





Despite Galindo's success at the 1996 competition he never qualified for the Olympics.  A number of years after his success he tested positive for HIV (a few years after a similar revelation by Olympic diver Greg Louganis in 1995).  In 1999 he appeared on an episode of Will & Grace where he portrayed Will's ice skating coach (episode title: "Will on Ice").  He's now a skating coach in San Jose, CA.




LysacekBoitanoJohnnyweirMore recently figure skater Johnny Weir (near right) also came out.  And most recently, after much speculation, Olympic figure skating gold medal winner Brian Boitano (1988 Olympics, center photo) came out (by the time he did it wasn't much of a surprise).  The last US skater to win a gold at the Olympics, Evan Lysacek (at Vancouver in 2010), remain curiously reluctant to discuss his life. 

"High School Musical" - Don't Ask, Don't Tell (January 20, 2006)

Ryan_sharpay_highschoolmusical Three years before Glee there was High School Musical, a wildly popular TV musical that aired on the Disney Channel on the evening of Jan. 20, 2006.  Instead of a glee club struggling with an inferiority complex, HSM revolved around a somewhat pretentious Musical Theater class.  And although the subject was never broached it's all but certain that the student named Ryan (played by Lucas Grabeel, pictured with Ashley Tisdale) was gay since he had musical theater running through his veins.  This "don't ask, don't tell" approach held sway for the next two HSM movies as well.  Although a bit dim, Ryan was a good egg who had to put up with his diva twin sister Sharpay (pronounced like the breed of dog).


This being a candy coated Disney fantasy world filled with smiling and fresh-scrubbed faces, Ryan was never harassed.  In fact, every clique in school co-existed harmoniously.  In keeping with this dream world, the most sensitive boy in school was also the most popular, basketball star Troy Bolton, played by Zac Efron (and at 5'10", probably the shortest basketball superstar in history).   




I didn't catch the movie when it first aired, but during the summer I rented it to see what the buzz was about - and I was captivated.  I especially liked the number Stick to the Status Quo, which charmingly depicted the turmoil created when kids like Troy don't follow their assigned social role.  Inspired by Troy's example, other kids reveal their secret passions, e.g. a jock interested in baking, the math whiz passionate for hip-hop.  Ryan, however, was not part of these "outings".  




In the sequel we'd discover that Ryan once played baseball and taught the jocks a thing or two (oh, I bet he did - wink, wink).  The movie had lots of gay subtext ripe for exploitation (by Michael Lucas perhaps?).  Personally, I think Ryan was used as a distraction to divert attention from the bromance between Troy and his best bud Chad (pictured, left).  In fact, whenever they bickered their faces would get so close it seemed that a passionate kiss was imminent.  Sure, both had girlfriends, but ... 




High School Musical was a smash hit as was its two sequels (the last one was a theatrical release).  Besides "tween" girls it also had much to offer gay viewers (of all ages), i.e. musical numbers, intricate choreography, a host of cute boys, a kinda hot basketball coach (played by Bart Johnson, pictured), a diva and, of course, Ryan.  HSM paved the way for Fox's introduction of Glee, a primetime series with musical numbers and a very out gay character.  However, I was never a fan of the show (although I've purchased some of its music on iTunes) - too much angst and gay Kurt gave me the willies (as did the female football coach). 





Madonna Wins a Golden Globe for "Evita" (January 19, 1997)

Madonna_evita On January 19, 1997 Madonna won a Golden Globe for Best Leading Actress in a Musical/Comedy for her portrayal of Eva Peron in the movie Evita.  In a role she seemed born to play, she beat out Barbra Streisand, Glenn Close, Debbie Reynolds and Frances McDormand.  Looking quite chic, Ms. Ciccone was a study in quiet reserve as she gave her acceptance speech (after all, she was now a serious actress!).





Madonna_dicktracy A_league_of_their_own Too often Madonna gets a bum rap for her acting ability (let's not forget that Meryl Streep was in She Devil), but she's given a number of good performances.  For instance, I liked her in Desperately Seeking Susan; Dick Tracy (pictured, far left); A League of Their Own (near left); and the documentary Truth or Dare.  Of course, she's also made her mark musically with hit songs such as Get Into the Groove; Crazy for You; and This Used to be My Playground.  (And in 2012 she won her second Golden Globe for the song Masterpiece from the movie she directed WE).  At the 1991 Oscars Madge performed Sooner or Later from Dick Tracy and it was notable for being one of the few times she displayed nervousness as her hands were visibly shaking during the peformance. 


Madonna_vogue_cover After her triumph at the Globes it was disappointing that Madonna failed to get an Oscar nomination.  However, two months later the original song "You Must Love Me" from Evita won the Oscar for Best Song which she performed - with no shaking this time.  So, don't cry for her ...




A Lesbian Wedding on "Friends" (January 18, 1996)

Lesbian_wedding_on_friendsRoss' ex-wife Carol (pictured, far right) and her lesbian partner Susan were married on the January 18, 1996 episode of NBC's hit sitcom Friends.  And because Carol's parents refused to attend the wedding, Ross walked her down the aisle.  The ceremony was performed by Candace Gringrich (pictured, center), Newt's lesbian half-sister who rose to the periphery of celebritydom after Newt became Speaker of the House.


Surprisingly, this episode's audience was no larger than usual for the popular show nor was there much of a fuss about the episode.  Eight months later President Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) into law.  And on January 18 of 2004 the lesbian drama The L Word debuted on Showtime. 

"The L Word" Debuts on Showtime (January 18, 2004)

Buoyed by the success of Queer as Folk (which debuted in December 2000), Showtime produced a one-hour drama about a group of lesbian friends and lovers called The L Word.  It premiered on Jan. 18, 2004.   


The_L_Word Except for their same-sex themes the two series were very different: 1) QAF took place in Rust Belt Pittsburgh while The L Word was set in sunny and trendy Los Angeles/West Hollywood; 2) The L Word had more "name" actresses: Jennifer Beals, Pam Grier, Marlee Matlin and Cybil Shepherd - QAF had one, Sharon Gless;  3) QAF had a lesbian couple (Lindsay and Melanie) but L Word incorporated very little about the lives of gay men into its storylines; and 4) The L Word ran for six seasons, one more than Queer as Folk.  However, QAF aired thirteen more episodes (83 vs. 70). 


After the series concluded in March 2009 Showtime aired a reality series that came out in the summer of 2010 called The Real L Word.


Madonna Performs on "American Bandstand" (January 14, 1984)

Madonna_on_americanbandstand Believe it or not, there was a time when Madonna was unknown, but on Jan. 14, 1984 the 25-year-old fledgling megastar gained mainstream exposure when she appeared on American Bandstand.  She kissed Dick Clark's ring and lip-synched her song Holiday, which had entered Billboard's Top-40 a month earlier - her first single to do so.  Although it's now a classic, it wasn't one of her more successful singles as it peaked at only #16.  However, thirty-seven top-10 hits would follow (twelve of which went to #1).  When Clark asked Madonna what her plans were for the future her very prescient reply was "to rule the world".  To view this 5-minute clip, double click here.


Madonna_firstalbum I bought my first Madonna single, Everybody, a year earlier in January 1983, one of her few not to crack the top-40. (I also remember hearing her being interviewed on the radio back then.)  And during the spring of 1984 I bought a 12-inch version of Burning Up, a song that wasn't released as a single but was popular in gay clubs.  For some reason I never got around to buying her first album.  




"Dynasty" Premieres (January 12, 1981)

Dynasty_forsythe Dynasty debuted on ABC's Thursday night schedule on January 12, 1981.  The show aired for nine seasons and vied with Dallas in popularity.  It made Joan Collins, Linda Evans and John Forsythe big stars (Forsythe died in 2010 at the age of 92).  This primetime soap premiered a week before Ronald Reagan's first term began and was a perfect reflection of 1980s materialistic ethos.  Fittingly, its final episode aired on May 11, 1989, four months after Reagan's presidency ended.   


0226091130_M_catfight_dynasty_450-300x233-290x200 Not only did the show have a big following among gay men, it was a hit with the general population as well.  For four consecutive seasons Dynasty ranked in the Nielsen top-10 and reached the pinnacle of success during the 1984/85 season when it was the nation's #1 show, nudging out Dallas.  The show's popularity was fueled largely by the tension between saintly Evans' Krystle Carrington and Collins' deliciously bitchy Alexis (who wasn't even part of the show's first season!).


Although I knew the show's cast of characters and was aware of major storylines - and that every other episode usually featured Krystle slapping Alexis - I didn't watch Dynasty.  I just wasn't one for the bitchy comments, deceptions and the program's general nastiness (the same reasons why I've never watched Bravo's Housewives series).  However, I'd occasionally tune in to Dallas but even that wasn't a favorite (but I liked Victoria Principal and Miss Ellie).  Moonlighting and Designing Women were more my cup of tea.