By: Mikey Rox*/Special to TRT—
This year the LGBT community laughed together, cried together, and celebrated together as news broke on issues important to us all. To refresh your memory, here are my picks for the top headlines that had us talking in 2014.
- Michael Sam becomes first openly gay NFL player – then quickly gets the boot
American football defensive end Michael Sam rocked the sports world when he publicly addressed his sexuality while still a player at the University of Missouri, an admission that spread like wildfire through mainstream media. An NFL draft contender nonetheless, Sam eventually became the first openly gay athlete drafted into the NFL as the 249th overall pick selected by the St. Louis Rams. Sam’s good fortune was short-lived, however, as the Rams cut the buzzed-about athlete at the end of training camp, and the Dallas Cowboys – who picked up Sam after his release from the Rams – sent him packing from the practice team after the first seven weeks of the season. Currently, Sam is a free agent who likely won’t ever play an NFL game – but at least he has a cute shoulder to cry on in boyfriend Vito Cammisano.
- World protests Russia’s anti-gay policies ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics
As early as 2012, the ire of equal-rights advocates was drawn when the notoriously anti-gay Russian government blocked the establishment of Pride House – a designated sanctuary for LGBT athletes, volunteers and other visitors – at the 2014 Winter Olympics. The reason for the smackdown? A Russian judge ruled that “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” would “undermine the security of Russian society.” Mmmkay, Felicia. By June 2013, Russian lawmakers passed a law to “impose fines for providing information about the gay community to minors,” and foreign citizens were being taken into custody for violating the bans. It all – pardon the pun – sort of snowballed from there. Thankfully, the world wasn’t taking any B.S. from Putin and his henchmen, and a show of solidarity for LGBT athletes (and the community as a whole) was displayed throughout the games across the globe.
- Country music had its own Coming Out Day – but nobody got the memo
Country crooner Ty Herndon – who rose to the top of the charts in the mid-1990s – unexpectedly shook things up in Nashville and beyond when he came out in an interview in People magazine this past November to promote his aptly-titled new album, _Lies I Told Myself. In the interview, Herndon, who was married twice before to women, came clean about his troubled past (his rap sheet is cray, y’all) and revealed that he’s been all booed up with a man named Matt for the past few years – all the while inspiring another country singer to breakthrough the closet doors the very same day. Fellow artist Billy Gilman, who you might remember as the 11-year-old who wowed the world with his debut single “One Voice” back in 2000, revealed his sexuality in a YouTube video, giving credit for his newfound confidence to Herndon. Country icons Ricky Scaggs and LeAnn Rimes have since publicly supported the duo, who will hopefully inspire other entertainers to step out from the shadows.
- Straight dudes anonymously admit that they secretly watch gay porn
As if you didn’t already suspect, heterosexual men are watching gay porn in droves – even if they won’t publicly admit it. According to Queerty, Reddit user “father_fig” posted a question to the community asking straight dudes if they “watch gay porn as a fetish rather than an aspect of your sexual orientation.” It didn’t take long for the thread to explode with anonymous admissions from horny bros who sometimes like to get off watching other dudes get it on. The thread received more than 75 comments/confessions, the awesomest of which came from this straight shooter: “I watch gay porn because my dick tells me that’s what I want to be watching. I’m not gay; I just sometimes get this urge that says ‘watch a man rail another dude in the ass.’” Touché; welcome to the club, buddy.
- Nineteen more states license gay marriage, bringing total to 35
Since 2004—when Massachusetts became the first state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples—the fight for marriage equality steadily made progress, giving homosexual couples in certain states access to wedded bliss. Fast forward 10 years later and the campaign moves along at bullet speed, picking up 19 more states with legalized gay marriage on the books this year alone. As of press time, the total number of states that allow same-sex marriage stood at 35, and five more with stayed rulings will likely follow suit in the near future. At this rate, it won’t be long before the same-sex couples can say ‘I do’ all over the United States, and then go home and fight about who emptied the dishwasher last.
- Seemingly straight celebs get super gay-friendly to woo demographic
If it seems like everywhere you went on the Internet over the past few months, Nick Jonas – former boy-bander and purity-ring wearer – was pining for your attention (like grabbing his crotch; don’t act like you didn’t look), you’re not alone. The now-solo artist launched a very gay-friendly campaign to promote his eponymous new album, but while he was winning over some of the LGBT community with his new singles (but mostly his abs), he offended others for his alleged gay-baiting marketing tactics. And he’s not the only one. TV host Mario Lopez, actor James Franco, One Direction’s Harry Styles, and up-and-coming Australian actor Brenton Thwaites have all been accused of the offense recently – which, let’s get real here, if they’re showing a little skin while they’re at it, is it really that offensive?
- Petition created to end the Duggars’ reality reign after anti-gay actions
Scientific anomalies and self-contained cult the Duggar Family, whose reality show 19 Kids and Counting is a huge hit for TV’s TLC, came under fire for a number of alleged anti-LGBT moves over the past year. Matriarch Michelle Duggar was accused of recording an automated call urging her hometown voters to repeal a law that would protect LGBT people from being evicted or fired based on their sexual orientation; son Josh has taken a job with the notoriously anti-gay Family Research Center; and the most recent eyebrow-raiser includes accusations that the family deleted Facebook photos of same-sex couples kissing each other, despite the Duggars’ call for Facebook users to post such images to celebrate their daughter Jessa’s marriage. The latter sparked a petition that calls for TLC to cancel the Duggars’ TV show – which probably won’t make a lick of difference considering that that backwoods Duck Dynasty quack is still spreading his hateful gospel all over the airwaves.
*Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and blogger whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He lives in Manhattan with his husband and their cuddle-buddy furbaby. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.