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The Wide Chasm in Worldwide Acceptance of Homosexuality

Gay.execution Twogrooms.oncakeWith the addition of the United States, one out of eight persons worldwide now live in countries where same-sex marriage is legal (accounting for more than 900 million of the world's 7.1 billion population).  The countries where it is legal are largely in Europe, North America and South America (two outliers are South Africa and New Zealand).  This has all happened in just the past 15 years.  However, resistance to homosexuals is still frighteningly widespread as 2.8 billion people live in countries where homosexuality is outlawed.  These virulently homophobic nations are found throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia and comprise nearly 40% of the world's population. 

 

Supremecourtdecision.samesexmarriageSo while there may be comfort in the fact that nations with anti-gay laws are thousands of miles away, and that same-sex marriage is sweeping the Western world, the fact is there are still plenty of Americans who would like laws here that outlaw the practice of homosexuality (as they salivate at the prospect of living under a theocracy).  So, despite celebrations over the Supreme Court's pro-gay decision, vigilance is still advised.

 

Statista.chartoftheday_countries_where_gay_marriage_is_legal

 

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Nations Where Homosexuality is Illegal (courtesy of 76crimes.com)

2015 News Headlines of Gay & Lesbian Interest

 2015

 

Feb 25, 2015 - A passionate same-sex kiss between two male characters on The Walking Dead causes somewhat of a backlash on social media.  (Because there's nothing worse for straight men than having the hard-on they got watching zombies eat human flesh go soft by a depiction of something unnatural like homosexuality.)

 

Gaykiss.walkingdead

 

March 4, 2015 - Billionaire entertainment executive David Geffen donates $100 million to the renovation of Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, which will be renamed after him. 

March 11, 2015 - Gay fashion-design duo Dolce & Gabbana create a furor after they are quoted in an Italian magazine saying that children born via in-vitro fertilization are not real in the traditional sense ("The only family is the traditional one. No chemical offsprings and rented uterus.")  One of the persons expressing outrage, Elton John, once sang at homophobe Rush Limbaugh's 2005 wedding.

March 16, 2015 - Football player Michael Sam is the third gay man to compete on Dancing with the Stars, joining Lass Bass and Carson Kressley before him.

 

Michael-sam-dancing.with.the.stars

 

March 17, 2015 - The largest Presbyterian denomination (1.8 million members) votes to change the definition of marriage in the church’s constitution to include same-sex marriage. 

March 26, 2015 - The governor of Indiana signs into law the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which makes it legal for business owners, because of their religious beliefs, to refuse service to gay customers.  (Due to a national backlash it was re-written the following week.)

March 27, 2015 - A massive fire in the wee hours of the morning destroys half of Cherry Grove's famed Ice Palace disco/bar/lodging complex.  This came three-and-a-half years after a fire destroyed the Pavilion in the Pines.

 

Fire.icepalace

 

April 7, 2015 - Long in the works, Larry Kramer's 800-page novel, An American People, is published.

April 24, 2015 - During a televised interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, former Olympian Bruce Jenner discusses his transition from male to female.  The telecast is viewed by nearly 17 million.

May 15, 2015 - Luxembourg's openly gay prime minister, Xavier Bettel (pictured, right), marries his partner, Gauthier Destinay, making them the world's first openly gay "first couple."

 

GayPM.Luxembourg.MarriesPartner_Advocate

 

May 22, 2015 - Ireland becomes the first country to legalize same-sex marriage by popular vote.

June 7, 2015 - The musical Fun Home, based on Alison Bechdel's novel about growing up as a lesbian in rural Pennsylvania and the relationship she had with her closeted father, wins the Tony Award for Best Musical.

 

Funhome

 

June 12, 2015 - The cover story of this week's issue of Entertainment Weekly (dated 6/19) is about the "50 Gay TV & Movie Characters We Love The Most". 

June 16, 2015 - The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, 33-year-old Navy veteran Pete Buttigieg, reveals he is gay in a column in the morning paper.

June 26, 2015 - In a 5-4 vote the US Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide.

July 27, 2015 - The Boy Scouts of America lifts its ban on adult scout leaders who are gay. 

Aug 25, 2015 - The Manhattan headquarters of digital gay escort service, RentBoy.com is raided by federal agents and six employees arrested, including its CEO.

 

Rentboy

 

Nov. 3, 2015 - Salt Lake City elects a lesbian mayor, 49-year-old Jackie Biskupski while in Palm Springs, Robert Moon was elected as the city's third gay mayor.

 

To read highlights of gay history/pop culture from previous years, double click here.


The Fad of Gay Parenting: How Much Longer Will It Last?

Gaydads.book When I see giddy gay daddies toting around their kids, I think of the tattoo craze.  Although it peaked a few years ago, those sporting one are stuck with them.  And I think that gay men with kids is another fad (this isn't an issue with lesbians, who don't possess the "Hey, look at me!" gene).  But unlike that Brazilian boyfriend who was so enthralling for the first year when he was brought in to spice up a stale relationship, kids can't be sent packing after the sparkle wears off (nor can you hope they'll scope out another couple with even more money and move on).  Yes, one of the daddies may split (as BD Wong or Ricky Martin can attest) but little ones are a responsibility that can't be stuffed into the back of a walk-in closet.

 

Newrepublic_gaydads  

 

 

Eltonjohn-davidfurnish-usmagazineOnce the kiddies age out of their darling "accessory" phase, and no longer warrant fawning attention of friends and family, some gay fathers may come to the sobering realization (behind their Potemkin facade) that, unlike last year's fashions, they won't be able to drop off Jamal or Sophia at Housing Works.  Already the general public's interest in the trend appears to be waning, as suggested by the cancellation of the TV show The New Normal.  Despite its Ryan Murphy pedigree and attractive male couple, it never caught on.  (Perhaps viewers got their fill of gay parenting from Modern Family's Cam and Mitch and daughter Lily.) 

 

Neil.patrick.harris.children
So adorable now ...

 

Twenty years ago if you saw a gay man looking haggard it was a safe assumption he was either ill or had been at a circuit party.  Now, however, chances are good he's raising kids.  And as these cherubs suck every last drop of fabulousness from their existence, gay daddies may come to appreciate, as the baroness did in The Sound of Music, the wonderful institution known as boarding school.  That, my friends, will be the next big fad.

 

Baroness.children.soundofmusic

 

PradaFinally, travel Pop.tartscompanies and marketers of luxury goods will take a hit as gay parents spend what was previously discretionary dollars on mundane necessities for their kids, such as clothes, Pop Tarts and Chips Ahoy cookies, toys (no, not those kind,) healthcare items and education (boarding school as well as college).   

 

(Besides lesbians, I don't believe this will be an issue with gay fathers who don't live in major metropolitan areas, especially New York, LA and San Francisco.)

 

 


Why Do Some Gay Men Take Their Husband's Last Name?

 Gay_marriage

 

In the past year three gay friends of mine were married and took their husband's last name.  I found this curious and pondered why they made such a decision.  Rather than just ask them, I brought it up for discussion a few weeks ago while having cocktails (vodka gimlets) with some friends and we drew up a list of possible reasons, which you'll find below. 

 

  • I never liked my last name (especially true if it was Dick, Pansy or Swisher).
  • Since we both refer to each other as "husband", by taking his name friends will know he's the "top" (or earns more money).

 

Top

 

  • I'm getting back at my homophobic, unsupportive family.  (Could pose a problem if both feel this way; if so, a coin toss is recommended.)
  • My family disowned me so I'm disowning their name.
  • My homophobic family paid me $25,000 to take my partner's name.

 

Handing.over.cash2

 

  • With my husband and I both having Polish last names, each with 15 letters and no vowels, we didn't want to inflict a hyphenated name like that on our friends.

 

Poland 

 

  • It was the only way Sal's Italian family from Bensonhurst would accept our marriage (and especially Nonna).

 

Bensonhurst

 

  • As a Republican I wish for life the way it was back in the 1950s (except for the way homosexuals were treated) and this is my way of paying tribute. 
  • I don't want to make it difficult for debt collectors, old boyfriends or anyone from my high school days to be able to track me down.

 

Bag.over.head

 

  • I believe I'm the reincarnation of Laura Petrie so there was never a question in my mind that I would take my husband's name.

 

Laura.and.rob.petrie

 

  • I like being the center of attention and my decision will always be a topic of conversation among family, friends and work associates  (even if they roll their eyes when they talk about it - doesn't matter!)

 

Marie.antoinette

 

  • My partner told me to do it if I loved him.  Otherwise he'd beat the crap out of me.  (But he really loves me.)  And consider going back to his ex.  (He does.)

 

Guy.wearing.wife.beater

 

  • By subsuming my identity I show solidarity with my mother.
  • Although I'm from Iowa I always fantasized having a Brazilian last name.  (So what if Paulo still hasn't found a job.  Or that he just told me he has a wife and two kids down in Recife.)

 

Brazilian_men

 

  • My husband promised to buy me a washer and drier.

 

Over dinner, after sobering up, we agreed that the most likely reasons were #1 and #3.

 


First Same-Sex Marriages In U.S. Begin in Massachusetts (May 17, 2004)

Samesexmarriage The first same-sex marriages in the US took place in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004.  This was six months after the state's Supreme Court ruled that a ban on such unions was unconstitutional.  Since then, thirty-six other states and Washington, DC have also made gay marriage legal.  (The Netherlands was the first country to legalize gay unions in 2001.)  Many of these states came on board after the Supreme Court struck down the 1996's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013.  Its ruling made federal marriage benefits available to married same-sex couples throughout the nation - even if couples lived in states that didn't allow gay marriage.    

 

Prop8 For three months in 2008, the state of California also allowed same-sex marriages, until voters narrowly voted against them later that year.  However, any marriages that were performed in those months are still valid.  In August 2010 a Federal District Court in San Francisco overturned Proposition 8 but resumption of marriages was put on hold until the US Supreme Court overturned Prop 8 in June 2013 (when it also overturned DOMA). 

 

Samesexmarriage_massachusetts The latest marriage figures for Massachusetts (from a Pew Research study) are through 2013 and they show that nearly 27,000 same-sex couples had gotten hitched there, the most of any state.  In 2014 the US Census Bureau for the first time released figures on married same-sex couples.  and these figures showed that, nationwide, there were 252,000 legally married same-sex couples.  And a Gallup survey conducted in the first quarter of 2015 estimated that there were 390,000 such couples.       

 


Lily 2.0: "Modern Family's" Pint-Size Diva-In-Training

Lily_modernfamilyWhen the sitcom Modern Family debuted four years ago, Lily, the adopted Vietnamese daughter of Cameron and Mitchell, was a mere toddler who never spoke - a human version of baby Maggie from The Simpsons.  Then in Season 3, a new Lily, who was more animated and old enough to speak a few sentences, was brought on board.  Now in Season 4 she has blossomed into quite the sarcastic quipster - a tiny Dorothy Parker (or Fran Leibowitz), if you will. 

 

Lily_as_joancrawfordLily has certainly become her gay daddies' daughter, and brings to mind the Sondheim song Children Will Listen from Into the Woods.  (In one episode she tells her dads, who were running late, to "hurry up, ladies.")  And while Cam and Mitchell find her zingers amusing, at the same time they are a little bit horrified. 

 

Lily2After two seasons in which the original Lily was as expressive as a block of wood, Lily 2.0 may revitalize the show, which is going through a transition as Luke, Manny, Alex and Haley grow older and become less adorable.  One can only imagine the handful this "diva in training" will become as a teenager.  No doubt the religious right views Lily as a "demon seed". 

 

 


Same-Sex Marriage Gets Its Due on "The Simpsons" (February 20, 2005)

Pattybouvier_thesimpsons On the February 20, 2005 episode of The Simpsons (titled "There's Something About Marrying") same-sex marriage was legalized in Springfield as a way to attract tourists.  This results in Marge's sister, Patty Bouvier, coming out and announcing her intention to marry her partner Veronica, a pro golfer.  When Homer learns how much he can earn performing same-sex ceremonies he becomes a minister and marries Patty (which is ironic since Patty, as well as her twin sister Selma, have nothing but contempt for Homer).  Alas, it was later revealed that Veronica was a man.

 

Having same-sex marriage as a storyline on a mainstream TV show (a favorite with young men) was an important milestone in the fight for legalization of same-sex marriage.  The attendant publicity brought awareness up a few more notches - anathema to the religious right, which frets whenever gay issues gain exposure.      

 

 

Samesexmarriage_weddingrings This episode of The Simpsons aired a little more than a year after Massachusetts became the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex unions.  And it just so happens that there is a city named Springfield in the state.  However, the show's writers have never indicated in which state their Springfield is located (there are 38 cities, towns and townships named Springfield in the U.S.).

 

 


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. 


Ron Reagan Jr. Gets Married, Eyebrows Are Raised (November 24, 1980)

Ronreaganjunior.joffreyballetSpeculation was rife that Ron Reagan Jr. just had to be gay.  After all, he was a willowy dancer with the Joffrey Ballet who grew up among his parents' Hollywood friends, many who were gay.  So, eyebrows were raised among the chattering classes when the 22-year-old son of the newly elected president was married in New York City on November 24, 1980.  He wed Doria Palmieri, whom he had met at a dance studio she managed in Los Angeles.  She was six years older than Ron.

 

Ronreaganjr.withwife

 


Ronreagan_jr After his father left office Ron's liberal political leanings became known and he even addressed the 2004 Democratic Convention.  (He also makes occasional appearances on MSNBC.)  In that same year he was interviewed by the Advocate and addressed the gay rumors head on.  Unlike some other figures in the public eye I've never heard reports of any sightings of him in clubs or walking hand-in-hand with another man at a gay resort.  The rumors and hubbub have long since dried up.  Meanwhile Reagan and wife Doria are still married, they have a daughter and live in Seattle.  

 

Piazza_not_gay Similar speculation surrounded New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza who felt compelled to call a news conference in the spring of 2002 to deny he was gay.  And married couple Richard Gere and Cindy Crawford took out a full page ad in the Times of London in 1994 to deny rumors that they were splitting up (which they did six months later) and that both were gay.  Curiously, the fact that President Obama's former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, studied ballet and attended Sarah Lawrence College (after turning down a scholarship to the Joffrey Ballet - the same dance company Reagan performed with) didn't cause speculation about his sexuality.  A sign perhaps that metrosexuals had become fully integrated into society - and that Reagan was ahead of his time.    


Rock Hudson Marries (November 9, 1955)

Rock_hudson_and_wife A week before he turned 30, strapping movie star Rock Hudson married his agent's secretary, Phyllis Gates.  The wedding took place on November 9, 1955. In Hollywood circles it was understood that this was a marriage of convenience, arranged in order to thwart tabloids such as Confidential Magazine from revealing his homosexuality.  The marriage produced no children and the couple divorced three years later.

 

Of course any discussion about Rock Hudson wouldn't be complete without mentioning the movie Pillow Talk (the second highest grossing movie of the 1950's).  Here's his racy (by the standards of 1959) split-screen bathtub scene with Doris Day:

 

 

 Young_liberace At around the same time Liberace was battling similar gay rumors with the print media as Hudson, but rather than marry he sued for libel and won cases in the UK (Daily Mirror newspaper) and the US (Confidential).