What an exciting year 2010 has been. It was tumultuous, trying, tempestuous and ultimately triumphant time for the LGBT Community. Most of all, it signaled a tipping point where a long tormented and oppressed minority finally saw light at the end of the tunnel.
Here are the Top 10 LGBT events that made 2010 a memorable year:
10) The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender movement was infused with energy through the creation of new advocacy organizations. Among the most notable was Get Equal, a direct action group that made headlines by confronting politicians at events to hold them accountable for campaign promises. Other new organizations that had an impact include Queer Rising and Fight Back New York. The year closed with the formation of Equality Matters, a “War Room” to fight against anti-gay misinformation led by former Clinton official Richard Socarides and former Advocate magazine reporter Kerry Eleveld.
9) The “ex-gay” industry was on the rebound earlier this year led by The American College of Pediatricians (ACP), a sham mental health association, and People Can Change, which aims to make gay men more macho through its woodsy Journey into Manhood (JIM) weekends. The ACP’s efforts came crashing down after its lead researcher, George Rekers, (also affiliated with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, NARTH) was caught vacationing with an escort he met on RentBoy.com. People Can Change was also discredited after one of its senior trainers for JIM weekends, Alan Downing, was accused of having clients touch themselves in front of a mirror.
8) In early 2010, The American Prayer Hour (APH) was started by Truth Wins Out to stop Uganda’s notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill. The event highlighted the role those involved with the National Prayer Breakfast played in fomenting anti-gay hatred in Uganda. The APH formed a broad coalition of supporters, which helped lead Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and President Barack Obama to speak out against this bill. As a result, the legislation was placed on hold for the remainder of the year. Unfortunately, the bill’s sponsor, David Bahati, has vowed to revive it in 2011 and there is an urgent need to once again mobilize and take action.
7) For the first time, a Gallup Poll found that the percentage of Americans who perceive “gay and lesbian relations” as morally acceptable crossed the 50 percent mark.
6) Another Gallup Poll showed that 53% of Americans oppose marriage equality compared to 44% who support it. These improved numbers set a clear trend towards acceptance and highlight the possibility that majority support is an attainable goal in the near future.
5) The Southern Poverty Law Center’s new listing of major anti-gay organizations, such as The Family Research Council and the American Family Association, as certified hate groups was a significant blow to their credibility.
4) A federal judge in Boston ruled in July — in two separate lawsuits — that a key part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. Taken together, these cases help lay the foundation for the dismantling of DOMA.
3) The federal lawsuit, Perry vs. Schwarzenegger, to overturn California’s Proposition 8 prohibiting same-sex marriage in the Golden State, was a significant development. In an unusual twist, liberal super-lawyer David Bois joined conservative legal icon Ted Olsen to send the message that equality should not be a partisan issue. The result was the beginning of thoughtful conservatives publicly breaking ranks with social conservatives over marriage equality.
2) Following an outbreak of LGBT teen suicides, columnist Dan Savage launched the “It Get’s Better” campaign, which let gay teens know that if they hung in there, life would improve after high school. It was a stunningly brilliant public relations coup that gave hope to countless LGBT youth worldwide and cast a harsh spotlight on the harm caused by bullies. This was one of the rare efforts that could be described as a transformative cultural phenomenon.
1) Repealing Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell was a monumental victory. Not only was this an impressive and meaningful legislative win, but the fight for repeal flooded the media with positive gay and lesbian role models, which significantly undermined the propaganda of anti-gay organizations. The images of brave gay service members will endure in our culture long after the victory celebrations stop.
While victory is not assured without another decade of backbreaking work, it certainly is – for the first time — within grasp. As 2010 comes to a close, the outlines of achievement are on the horizon and the sweet smell of success permeates the air.
Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”