By: Mikey Rox*/Special to TRT—
This year the LGBT community laughed, cried, and celebrated together as news broke on issues important to us all. To refresh your memory on the year that almost was, here are our picks for the top headlines that had us talking in 2015.
Pizza parlor says it won’t cater same-sex weddings, raises nearly $1 million after backlash
The power of the Internet—and idiocy—ran amuck early in the year when the Christian owners of Walkerton, Indiana’s Memories Pizza told a local news station it wouldn’t cater a hypothetical same-sex wedding, in response to a religious objections law Indiana had recently passed. Backlash ensued—the parlor received so much criticism it shut its doors for eight days – but in the meantime, donations to the tune of nearly $1 million flooded in from dummies around the world that pledged their financial support to uphold discrimination.
Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in the United States
June 26, 2015, forever will be recognized as the day the United States granted gay and lesbian couples the fundamental right to marry after a years-long battle for equality.
Before the landmark decision was handed down by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling in the case Obergefell v. Hodges, 36 states, Washington D.C., and Guam already were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples—but the about-face that required all states to immediately issue licenses and recognize marriages validly performed in other jurisdictions wasn’t met with open arms by all. Conservative activists, in particular, spoke out against the ruling, some of whom, like Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, flat-out refused to obey the new law—a defiance that landed her a short stint in jail.
Even as late as mid-December—presidential hopeful Marco Rubio—who ranked third among candidates at the time, behind Donald Trump and Ted Cruz—promised to reverse the decision if elected.
It’s highly unlikely, however, that either of those things will ever happen.
Kentucky clerk Kim Davis becomes famous overnight for being a bigot
What motivated anti-gay movement-martyr Kim Davis to take on the Supreme Court by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is still up for interpretation—was she sticking to her religious convictions as she claimed, or was she hoping to cash in on the controversy like Memories Pizza?—but her eagerness to break the law worked in her favor. Despite spending five days in the clink, Davis became a household name who dominated headlines for weeks before compromising on the issue by allowing her office to grant the licenses—but without her signature.
Caitlyn Jenner raises awareness of trans issues with high-profile transition
Caitlyn Jenner has made several questionable statements since coming out in June—like revealing that she still plans to vote Republican, and encouraging trans people to dress the part more effectively so they don’t make others uncomfortable. Yet despite all the criticism she’s received since forging her life as a woman in the public eye, there’s no denying that her high-profile transition has brought national attention to trans issues, and we could use more of it.
Republican presidential candidates up the ante on anti-LGBT rhetoric
Surprise! Republicans still don’t like gay people.
Along with Rubio, four other presidential candidates—Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson—signed the National Organization for Marriage’s pledge in August “to take several specific actions as president to restore marriage to the law and protect people of faith from discrimination because of their support of traditional marriage.”
In November, Cruz and Jindal joined Mike Huckabee at pastor Kevin Swanson’s National Religious Liberties Conference, where Swanson called for the punishment of homosexuality by death—as he’s known to do.
Don’t be shocked if by the New Year these A-holes are trying to cart us off to concentration camps.
Boy Scouts of America lift longtime ban on gay leaders
Atheists and agnostics still aren’t allowed to join the Boy Scouts of America because their beliefs conflict with organization’s “Duty to God” principle (and we’re sure they’re all beat up about it), but as of July 26, 2015, gay and lesbian adults can serve as scout leaders, a reversal of a policy that prohibited “open and avowed” homosexuals from participation.
All it took was 105 years and the threat of a lawsuit.
Roland Emmerich’s ‘Stonewall’ hits brick wall at the box office
What happens when you “whitewash” a pivotal moment in LGBT history by focusing on an attractive, straight-acting, Caucasian male lead instead of telling the true story of drag queens, butch lesbians, trans women, and people of color who played a prominent role in the pop-off of the gay liberation movement? You get Roland Emmerich’s Stonewall, the universally panned box office flop (it made less than $175K total), very loosely inspired by the 1969 Stonewall riots.
Gay athletes continue to forge path toward acceptance in sports
Collegiate and professional sports still have a ways to go before being considered institutions of LGBT acceptance, but more and more athletes are coming out to their teammates. According to Outsports, from National Coming Out Day 2014 to one year later, 73 LGBT players, coaches, trainers, and media professionals have broken down sexual-orientation barriers within their respective organizations with success.
Every one of them a hero, indeed.
*Mikey Rox is an award-winning journalist and LGBT lifestyle expert whose work has been published in more than 100 outlets across the world. He splits his time between homes in New York City and the Jersey Shore with his dog Jaxon. Connect with Mikey on Twitter @mikeyrox.