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Top 7 Moments for Gay Marriage Equality in 2012
A Monumental Year
Now that the United States of America have made their final decisions at the polling places, I’m interested to take a look back over the year to see where we've come from. I'm listing the Top 7 Moments of 2012 that really turned the tide this year in favor of real change! These are 7 news worthy and anecdotal instances that went viral around the world this year and lit a fire under the gay friends and foes to either support or or vehemently deny gay rights (thankfully the former won out). If you truly take a look back at the year 2012, LGBTQ rights almost defined it.
We've come a long way since 2008, where marriage equality met a temporary stall. Now, four years later we took the conversation to another level. Here are the moments that changed that conversation, in descending order:
Moment # 7 - President Obama Endorses Gay Marriage
Next to Election day, this was probably one of my prouder moments of my President. Think about it: A President of the United States of America takes the time out of his busy agenda to take a real stance in the Gay Marriage Debate. This was an unprecedented move, a true evolution of the position as well as an evolution of the conversation for most folks. A few have tried to spin this as an "election stunt", but I have to tell you, this felt truly genuine to me:
Yesterday, during an interview with ABC News, President Obama said, “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”
It’s no secret the President has gone through some soul-searching on this issue. He’s talked to the First Lady about it, like so many couples do. He’s heard from folks—gay and lesbian friends, staff members in long-term, loving relationships, as well as brave young servicemen and women he got to know through the fight to end Don’t, Ask Don’t Tell.
He’s sat around his kitchen table with Sasha and Malia, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. As the President said during the interview, “it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them. And frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change of perspective -- not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated differently when it comes to eyes of the law.”
In the end, the President said, he believes it's important to "treat others the way you would want to be treated."We need to recognize that people are going to have differing views on marriage and those views, even if we disagree strongly, should be respected.
We will come to see in the next four years whether this was just for votes, or whether a real impact is on the horizon. We've built up so much momentum this week. Enough to bring a tidal wave of change to the US as it relates to gay marriage. Hopefully he can carry it FORWARD (see what I did there?).
Moment # 6 - Little Carter Gustafson, Minneapolis
If this letter didn't just break your whole heart! Carter Gustafson of Minneapolis, age 8 ¾, wrote:
I’m writing this letter because I have two moms and I want to talk about the gay marriage vote. I’ve been asking my moms a lot of questions about the vote. Here are some of them:
1. Why does it matter if it’s a woman and a woman or a man and a woman? What’s the difference?
2. If this passes, can we still be a family?
3. Since this is illegal can my moms get arrested? This means a lot to me because I love my moms.
Who makes these laws because they don’t make sense to me. For example, isn't it love that makes a family? I hope one day my moms can get married! Please help by voting NO!
Seriously though. Let's take a step away from "traditional family values" and "Christian convention". How do you explain to an 8 year old why two people that love each other and him, that they are unable to have a legal wedding ceremony to proclaim their love for one another? How do you teach children to love everyone; and at the same time, teach them that the law only recognizes some of that love?
The answer: You don't.
Sidenote: Congratulations Carter!
When my boyfriend saw this, he said, We need to go to a gay wedding!
Moment # 5 - Two Black Men Get Married
When I first saw the video to the right of the commitment between Robert Brown and Nathanael Gay on my Facebook timeline, I was in tears at how beautiful this wedding was. I mean, the sparklers, the love, the photos of the family members that couldn't be there. It was way too overwhelming. I can only pray that one day in my life I'm able to have a day as beautiful as this.
Then I started reading the articles about it and I was 100% miffed. This can't be real life. My people of color cannot be this hard up that they believe homosexuality does not exist among members of Black Greek Lettered Organizations. I can't believe that I have defend homosexuality as a way of life, and I'm not even gay. For all of Robert's fraternity brothers that defended him and his partner, and showed support at the nuptials, big ups to you. For everyone else that saw this as an abomination, shame on you!
Of some of the mutterings I've heard on the subject, most were disconcerted about the black man's image. That black men that are gay are somehow "less than a man" and make the rest of the race look less masculine.
I'm sorry black men, but love does not emasculate a man. If anything, a man that can admit his love for anyone, is a stronger man than most of those that I know. Do you know how many things come against a black man that loves?
Brief history: during the dawn of slavery, husbands watched their wives and children become enslaved, placed in shackles in the belly of slaveships. During slavery, men watched their sisters, mothers, wives and sometimes brothers be raped by his master while he broke his back in the plantation fields or submitted himself to his owner. The 20th century fared no better as drugs, vices and addictions took over his family as well. Our folks have barely caught a break in the last 3 centuries. How is he supposed to love anyone?
Anyone that can take a step away from our troublesome past and look to the future, with love for another human being gets immense props in my book. The world says we shouldn't be able to love, we've been hurt too much. These two men, Robert Brown and Nathanael Gay proved the world wrong.
In conclusion: Marriage is more than just gender. It’s about two PEOPLE who love each other enough to want to spend every day together. And YES, as people who have made a life commitment to each other, they’d like to enjoy the same rights as heterosexual couples. Please don’t define marriage. Let’s remove the taboos of love people.
Moment # 4 - The Rainbow Stacked Oreo
I still can't get over how a picture of a cookie ignited such passion in people this year. This was one of those moments where you look back and say, we were really divided over a sugary snack.
Are you for the cookie, or against it? That was seriously a question on Twitter.
To me, this looks freaking delicious.
I actually shared this photo on Facebook twice. The first time was a few days before Pride and I just thought it was a really cute meme photo that Oreo had made. A few days later, after the mass freakout ensued, I posted it again, saying this: "Reposting because people have a problem with colorful cookies. I'm supporting Oreos 1) because they're delicious and 2) I think anyone who can stand up and be who they are (particularly gay people) are some of the bravest people I know. I'm often jealous of just how much of themselves they can be."
I stand by what I've said time and time again. It's a cookie. A potentially insulin shot requiring cookie, but a cookie nonetheless. But it's so interesting how much of an impact Oreo had on the equal marriage and gay rights debate this year.
Moment # 3 - The Frank Ocean Letter
The third most impactful moment of 2012 for LGBTQ rights is an open letter that was penned by famed entertainer, writer and producer, Frank Ocean. He's sincerely "frank" when he wrote the following before the production of his latest album Channel Orange:
Whoever you are. Wherever you are… I’m starting to think we’re a lot alike. Human beings spinning on blackness. All wanting to be seen, touched, heard, paid attention to. My loved ones are everything to me here. In the last year or 3 I’ve screamed at my creator, screamed at clouds in the sky, for some explanation. Mercy maybe. For peace of mind to rain like manna somehow.4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I’d see him, and his smile. I’d hear his conversation and his silence…until it was time to sleep. Sleep I would often share with him.By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating with the feeling. No choice. It was my first love,it changed my life. Back then, my mind would wander to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with. I reminisced about the sentimental songs I enjoyed when I was a teenager.. The ones I played when I experienced a girlfriend for the first time.I realised they were written in a language I did not yet speak.I realised too much, too quickly. Imagine being thrown from a plane. I wasn’t in a plane though. I was in a Nissan Maxima, the same car I packed up with bags and drove to Los Angeles in. I sat there and told my friend how I felt. I wept as the words left my mouth. I grieved for them, knowing I could never take them back for myself.He patted my back. He said kind things. He did his best, but he wouldn’t admit the same. He had to go back inside soon,it was late and his girlfriend was waiting for him upstairs. He wouldn’t tell the truth about his feelings for me for another 3 years.I felt like I’d only imagined reciprocity for years. Now imagine being thrown from a cliff. No, I wasn’t on a cliff. I was still in my car telling myself it was gonna be fine and to take deep breaths. I took the breaths and carried on. I kept up a peculiar friendship with him because I couldn’t imagine keeping up my life without him. I struggled to master myself and my emotions. I wasn’t always successful
The dance went on.. I kept the rhythm for several summers after. It’s winter now. I’m typing this on a plane back to Los Angeles from New Orleans. I flew home for another marred Christmas. I have a windowseat. It’s December 27, 2011. By now I’ve written two albums. This being the second. I wrote to keep myself busy and sane. I wanted to create worlds that were rosier than mine.I tried to channel overwhelming emotions.I’m surprised at how far all of it has taken me.Before writing this I’d told some people my story. I’m sure these people kept me alive, kept me safe. Sincerely, these are the folks I wanna thank from the floor of my heart. Everyone of you knows who you are.. Great humans, probably angels.I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite.I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore.There’s probably some small shit still, but you know what I mean.I was never alone, as much as it felt like it. As much as I still do sometimes. I never was.I don’t think I ever could be. Thanks. To my first love, I’m grateful for you. Grateful that even though it wasn’t what I hoped for and even though it was never enough, it was. Some things never are.. and we were. I won’t forget you. I won’t forget the summer. I’ll remember who I was when I met you. I’ll remember who you were and how we’ve both changed and stayed the same.I’ve never had more respect for life and living than I have right now.Maybe it takes a near death experience to feel alive. Thanks. To my mother.You raised me strong. I know I’m only brave because you were first. So thank you. All of you. For everything good. I feel like a free man.If I listen closely.. I can hear the sky falling too.
If I didn't love Frank Ocean before for his musical genius, I definitely did after I read this letter. I remember being in tears while reading this letter from my Droid in the bed one Saturday morning. And before you call me a crybaby, just hear me out.
It takes a lot of courage to be who you are. To openly admit, to hundreds of thousands of people who admire you, that you're bisexual. But it's even more admirable, that he can even admit this to himself, despite being shunned by his first love. That had to hurt.
What saddens me most about the state of our nation, and a good number of places in the world, is how easily we're sucked into having one perspective and that's the only perspective we'll ever have for our entire lives. The very first habit of highly effective people, according to Stephen Covey, is the ability to "shift your paradigm". Now what does that mean? An effective person, a person that gets things done, a doer, is a person that can take a step back from a situation where judgements have been passed, where the status quo is static, and they are able to look past the situation to provide a fresh and intuitive view on things.
I'm getting to my point, I promise. For millenia, there's always been some group discouraging homosexual relationships. But shift your paradigm, this is much deeper than "the Bible says its wrong". In a time where civilizations banked on the ability for the families in it to reproduce, be fruitful and multiply the race, a homosexual relationship had no place. Back then, the entire purpose of a relationship or marriage, was to "consummate". If consummation did not happen, the wife or husband (usually the wife) could be killed and your spouse could find someone new. So how could a homosexual relationship, that could not be consummated nor multiply the village, town or city, possibly have a place in society?
Even after this letter, I think a lot of people were forced to shift their paradigm. There are not too many openly "out" entertainers, especially not in the urban music genre. And I have to say, Frank Ocean has not suffered too much after this announcement. Go Frank! I listen to Channel Orange at least once a day.
Moment # 2 - Chick Fil A's Announcement
Easily some of the most delicious foods on the planet, Chick-Fil-A came under serious fire in July of this year when it was announced that the fast food chain gave donations to anti-gay organizations. Chick-Fil-A, and the founder S. Truett Cathy and family, have always been known as wholesome, family oriented folks. When a restaurant is closed on Sundays, you can get a general sense of where their morals lie.
You would've thought S. Truett Cathy came to personally spit in the faces of America when this news broke. Folks took this way personally. I myself even took to Facebook, claiming that I would no longer give my money to Chick-Fil-A as long as my money was going to anti-gay groups (there was a loop hole in this policy, however. If other folks wanted to buy me Chick-Fil-A, I was totally still down for it. I know, the shame.)
This news sparked such events as the "National Same-Sex Kiss Day" where at the same time, in Chick-Fil-As nationwide, same-sex couples stood inside the restaurants and kissed each other, giving a whole new meaning to the term "non-violent protest".
Eventually, after consumer perception of the company declined from 65 to 39 points (YouGov's BrandIndex), the Cathys went on record saying that they'd decided to stop sending money to these groups, but the damage was done. Most of America will never feel the same about this company again, which is saying an awful lot about the fast food nation that we are. The word "Chick-Fil-A" is almost taboo in some circles now, which is why its moment number two on this countdown.
Moment # 1 - Election Day 2012
No words can possibly surmise how much of a victory November 6, 2012 was for LGBTQ rights and equality. The day set forth an unprecedented wave of HOPE for the future of equal marriage and LGBTQ folks in general. Here's just a summary of whatallAmericans achieved that day:
- 3 states (Maryland, Washington, Maine) legalized same sex marriage, bringing the total to 9 states in the US
- Minnesota repealed a ban of same sex marriage
- Wisconsin elected the first openly gay US Senator and a gay Congressperson to the House of Representatives
- with 332 electoral votes, President Obama, the first President to publicly endorse same-sex marriage, was re-elected
- New Hampshire elected the first transgender lawmaker
- California elected the first gay person of color (YAY) to enter the US House of Representatives
- Arizona elected the first bisexual Congressperson to the House of Representatives
According to the Huffington Post, marriage equality has been on the ballot 32 times and lost each one of those times. But that was before President Obama gave his resounding declaration to support gay marriage and equal rights under the law. Voters turned out in the masses and the voices of the popular vote were heard! 2012 will go down in history as the pinnacle year for LGBTQ rights.
My President said it best:
It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.
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