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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Year of the queer

The American public was inundated with the flamboyance of the “”gay agenda”” this past year. Damn those pesky gays and the divas who love them, always trying to promote open-mindedness and self-respect.

Politically, it was a good year for the gay community. The Democrats finally fulfilled their promise of a “”don’t ask, don’t tell”” repeal, the last state banning gay individuals from adopting children officially stopped enforcing the law and Proposition 8 in California was overturned.  

While the government continues bridging the chasm between the GLBT community and their rights as American citizens, the influx of overtly gay-oriented cultural icons is the true mark of progress. The government ought to be serving and protecting its citizens, pop culture has no such responsibility.

Network TV really stepped it up this year with shows like “”Glee”” exploring the depth of its gay characters, rather than downgrading them to the protagonist’s sassy friend. Chris Colfer, the show’s gay Kurt Hummel, is being heralded as a leader in the gay-rights movement — largely because of his ability to connect with marginalized gay teens.

In a year marred by a string of suicides of gay, or thought to be gay, teens, influences like Colfer and the It Gets Better Project are the subtle proof to struggling teens that they aren’t alone. Colfer dedicated the end of his Golden Globe acceptance speech to teens who are bullied for being who they are. He eloquently finished by saying, “”Well, screw that, kids.””

Entertainment Weekly issued a special report, “”Gay Teens on TV,”” featuring Colfer and fellow cast member Darren Criss due to the unprecedented representation. Colfer and Criss sang “”Baby, It’s Cold Outside”” for the show’s holiday episode. Colfer later said, “”That was by far the gayest thing that has ever been on TV, period.””

“”Glee”” isn’t alone in promoting the normalcy of gay Americans through high amounts of airtime. Programs like “”Modern Family,”” “”Greek”” and “”True Blood”” all feature diverse and complex storylines focusing on gay characters and culture.

Not to be outdone, the music industry responded to the call for queer-themed work by releasing a slew of empowering singles. This year’s top 40 was blessed with songs like “”Firework”” by Katy Perry, “”We R Who We R”” by Ke$ha and “”Raise your Glass”” by P!nk — all promoting celebrating our differences with pride, even in the face of daunting adversity.

However, even with pop culture’s assurance of better days, the trials of gay teens and the dark repercussions of bullying haven’t abated. Kameron Jacobsen, a 14-year-old New York student, committed suicide last week following taunts on Facebook from fellow students for his perceived homosexuality, according to The Advocate.  The devastating loss of another teen shows that, despite the efforts of so many, the battle to save the gay youth has only begun.  

The uphill climb for equal rights and gay presence in the media in 2011 is already underway. President Barack Obama has renewed his promise of passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, but more importantly Lady Gaga’s single “”Born this way”” will be released soon. Already dubbed “”the new gay anthem”” by none other than Sir Elton John, the goddess has even agreed to let “”Glee”” cover the song in the coming months, according to the show’s creator Ryan Murphy.

With any luck, last year’s political and cultural progress of gay rights and equality will be a glittery foreshadowing of a day where gay Americans enjoy equal rights and teens are free from bullying. So raise your glass and ignite the light. We are who we are because we were born this way.

— Ken Contrata is the managing editor of the Daily Wildcat. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

 

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