- June 2022
Europe saw the very worst and the very best of the Pride experience yesterday.
In Norway, a gunman killed two people and wounded 21 at a gay bar in the capital city of Oslo. The alleged shooter was a 42-year-old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin. He's believed to be a radicalized Islamist with a history of mental illness, and had been on authorities' radar since 2015.
Apparently he fell plum off.
On the advice of police, the Pride parade was cancelled. But several thousand people marched spontaneously, waving rainbow flags and chanting in English, "We're here, we're queer, we won't disappear."
Kudos to them for their defiance. As to chanting in English, perhaps the sentiment isn't as catchy in Norwegian.
The prime minister and members of the royal family laid roses near the bar. Crown Prince Haakon told reporters, "We must protect the right in Norway to love whomever we want."
I'm an anti-royalist, but I feel a sudden urge to curtsy.
Over in the Polish capital city of Warsaw, thousands marched in the Equality Parade, reportedly the largest queer event in central Europe. Joining the Polish paraders were hundreds of Ukrainians, representing LGBTQ organizations from around that besieged nation.
The joint Pride was a marvelous show of queer solidarity across borders—and a reminder of what will happen to the Ukrainian LGBTQ community if the Kremlin wins this war.
Pride was born of struggle years ago in New York City. In Europe in 2022, there's still plenty of struggle to be had. If you attended a Pride this month and your greatest difficulty was choosing an outfit, please keep a thought for our compatriots, abroad and here in the States. We all hope for the day when, in every part of the world, a Pride struggle means nothing more taxing than trying to avoid your ex.
Some LGBTQ folks will understandably argue that we should start packing heat. But I still believe it's only lesbians who should be packing, and that has nothing to do with guns.
- April 2022
PinkNews reports that two men have been given life sentences for raping a lesbian teenager in South Africa.
One of the men, while raping her, asked her to be his girlfriend.
The only response I can think of is, "Naturally. And if you beat my head in with a hammer, I'll want to have your children."
- March 2022
You've heard how Russian invaders have been targeting the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. According to reports, that didn't go well for one group of Russian soldiers.
It's unclear whether these soldiers were AWOL or avoiding Ukrainian resistance or what, but they tried to hide in the basement of a building. It turned out their hiding place was the office of the local LGBTQ organization, some of whose members discovered, beat and captured the Russians.
I'd like to think that instead of beating them I'd have forced them to pay a month's rent and wear glitter, but who can say?
The source of this story is Viktor Pilipanko, a Ukrainian LGBTQ rights activist and veteran who just rejoined the army. "This is our war, the Ukrainians, but we have also been fighting as LGBTQ people, and I'm sure that the comrades in Kharkiv understood that," said Pilipanko. "We are confronting a tyrannical, homophobic enemy."
That's certainly true. While life for queers in Ukraine is no picnic, it's better than Russia, where a certain shirtless leader's toxic masculinity and political desires have led to queer repression. The U.S. revealed that Russia's "kill list" of Ukrainians includes a number of LGBTQ people.
LGBTQ Ukrainians are fighting for their country and their lives. They couldn't be more inspired if Cher promised to sing to them in the trenches.
- December 2021
It's the last day of 2021.
This lousy year began with then-President Donald Trump dispatching his yahoos to the Capitol; I'll never get over the figurative and literal assault on democracy that followed. The pandemic plagued the country and the world the entire blessed year. Inflation hit. The climate changed. The U.S. withdrew chaotically from Afghanistan. Billionaires blasted themselves into space, and alas, came back.
In LGBTQ news, 2021 saw more transgender people murdered in this country than ever before.
I wouldn't blame Baby New Year if he chose to crawl back into the womb.
But the year wasn't a total washout. Looking through the queer lens, I was thrilled that male football, hockey, soccer and baseball players came out, and pleased that "Dancing WIth the Stars" included a female couple and its British equivalent had a male duo. Trans and non-binary folks competed at the Olympics. A male country star came out, and as far as I know, Dolly Parton didn't even have to push him to do it.
In terms of a person of the year for our community, there are many options, but I'm going with rapper and singer Lil Nas X. His music video showing him sliding to hell on a pole and giving Satan a lapdance set the tone early in 2021. All year he was not just ubiquitous, but an unapologetic gay Black man.
And those Uber Eats ads he made with Elton John felt like gay history encapsulated. It's been quite a journey from the Yellow Brick Road to Old Town Road.
So what will 2022 bring? I think it's fair to say expectations are low. After the planet grappled with the Delta and Omicron variants in 2021, my hope is 2022 won't force us to learn the entire Greek alphabet.
Nobody would benefit from that. Not even Greeks.
- November 2021
I just returned from a Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial. Seeing the faces of the many trans people killed over the past year in this country, and hearing how they died . . . it's deeply emotional stuff.
As a result of being ignorant that TDoR is a well-established abbreviation for Transgender Day of Remembrance, I did have one amusing moment this evening. A trans woman was telling me how she used to organize her school's TDoR (pronounced "Tee Door") remembrance, and I misheard her and spent the next few minutes trying to figure out why a community college in Washington state would memorialize bullfighters.
- June 2021
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