The image of the year. Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony. Marks: only 4 out of 5! See below.
The year opened with a review of 2013's heroes and villains. It will come as no surprise that a featured villain has maintained his profile to great effect in 2014. Yes, Bad Vlad, following on from his canny interventions in Syria, his myriad poses in shirtless mode and his popularity-enhancing repression of his domestic gay community, has now wreaked local havoc in the Crimea and Ukraine. Some may feel that he entirely deserves the plumetting oil price and penal sanctions that are wrecking the Russian economy. Others may just worry about quite what extreme ideas he might need to embrace in order to sustain his grasp on Moscow politics while the Russian state crumbles back into anarchy.
Vladimir Putin, updated, and not surrounded by friends at the G20 summit in Brisbane.
Spitting blood at Putin's homophobic policies, as we were, the then looming Sochi Winter Olympics seemed to us to offer a potential vehicle for protest about gay rights, not only those of the regime in Russia, but also globally. Events in the first few weeks of 2014, outbreaks of homophobia in Nigeria, Uganda, Rome and the UK simply confirmed how important an opportunity for protest the Sochi games were. In the event, local protests were few. Johnny Wier, former skating champion turned commentator, wore an adrogynous outfit on television and it was left, magnificently, for the Olympic rings to make their own protest and, in so doing, create the image of the year. See above.
Johnny Wier. That blouse!
We try to stay as alert to good news as we do to the other sort. So we welcomed the new issue of the American Journal of Public Health that featured a study proving that straight people who hold anti-gay views are more likely to die younger than those who don’t.
Based on a sample of 20,226 respondents between 1988 and 2008, it concluded that those who were not prejudiced against gay people lived on average 2.5 years more than those who were. The research team, led by Mark L Hatzenbuehler of Columbia University wrote: ”Anti-gay prejudice is associated with elevated mortality risk among heterosexuals, over and above multiple established risk factors for mortality.”
The prejudiced: slated for an earlier exit. Hoorah!
After many years of determined campaigning in the face of the vitriolic abuse of reactionaries and the religiously misguided, the first same-sex weddings took place across much of the UK. We opted to celebrate this fact, not because of the institution of marriage itself, but because it marked yet another giant stride towards the equality that we have sought for so long.
Same-sex couples would also be able to marry in Scotland by the end of 2014 as Queen Elizabeth II had signed the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, into law a few weeks earlier. Northern Ireland is now the only remaining UK nation where equal marriage has not been legalised.
But let's not fool ourselves into believing that the fight for equality is anything like won. Even in America, whither goes much of the credit for pioneering the path to equality, the battle still continues on a number of fronts.
News of more gay marriages welcomed in Montreal
As the iconically gay Eurovision Song Contest approached, attention turned to Austria who, according to the All-Russian Parent Meeting would be "represented in Eurovision 2014 by the transvestite contestant Conchita Wurst, who leads the lifestyle inapplicable for Russians"
They went on to explain that "The popular international competition that our children will be watching has become a hotbed of sodomy at the initiation of the European liberals."
Sorry, folks, some tides of history are not for turning back. Conchita, deservedly, went on to win by a huge margin.
Conchita Wurst, Eurovision Winner
If the fates had given us a heaven-sent (sic) good news story in Conchita, natural disasters laid at the door of those of a gay persuasion threatened to undo our feelgood factor.
Fortunately, we were able to identify a whole gallery of crazies whose aim in life seemed to be blaming gays for everything. Chaplain John McTernan, the founder of Defend and Proclaim the Faith Ministries,, claimed that Hurricane Sandy was specific proof of God's response to the “homosexual agenda.” Clearly devoted to his theme, he had previously made similar allusions about Hurricanes Katrina (2005) and Isaac (2012). Hurricane Sandy caused dozens of deaths and billions of dollars in damage, but McTernan used the then-pending hurricane to remind followers that the massive storm was just another bit of evidence that America is en route to destruction.
Sorry John, America was still there last time we looked.
Not our favourite Sandy.
The remorseless acceptance of gay marriage in most of the developed world has, unsurprisingly, encouraged more and more gay people to feel safe about emerging from the the closet.
For the younger generations, it seems like a natural evolution but not for Gen X and the baby boomers who, when young, either hid their gayness or were considered freaks, rebels or villains. So it's really not surprising that once they do come out, many face a number of challenges that make it even harder. We reviewed eight of them, accompanied by proposed solutions. And, along with countless millions worldwide, revelled in the touching and hilarious marriage of Modern Family's Mitch and Cam. Now that's what we call a splendid endorsement for an "out" lifestyle.
Mitch, Cam. Happy ever after.
In the months that saw the comings out of swimmer Ian Thorpe and footballer Thomas Hitzelberger, the big gay kiss at the Commonwealth Games, activist skater and commentator Johnny Weir in drag at the Sochi Olympics and more cheerful stripping by the Warwick Rowers, the sporting routes to combatting homophobia had become more eclectic than ever. We reflected, however, that crucially,the beautiful game sadly continues to lag so many other sports in yielding up its gay stars. There's still not much sign of change on this particular horizon.
John Barrowman plants a kiss at the Commonwealth Games Opening Ceremony.
In August, "Going viral on the Internet" didn't have to mean Kim Kardashian's arse. A more productive concept stole all the headlines.
The Ice Bucket Challenge had gone phenonemal, raising funds for good causes like ALS, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Motor-Neuron Disease as well as bringing some moments of comedy to a media-hungry world. The challenge had also reached out to other charities, like the MacMillan cancer charity. Recognising that just a few of our followers might have in them a touch of the exhibitionist, a generous-hearted soul, a superhero or a bit of all three, we offered some helpful input. And identified some of the more rewarding images.
The "Fault in our Stars" actor Ansel Elgort won our favourite before and during pic award.
Unusually, we came right back home this month, deeply saddened by the loss of a dear friend, David Harvey. Briefly encapsulated as a "textiles journalist" in the Draper's Record trade magazine, he died on September 2 at his home, the Mill, in Cuxham, Oxfordshire. He was 84 years old.
Why did we choose to share his life with readers of Lustralboy? The reason is simple. A boy born in Croydon in 1930 went on to travel the world, charming his way through the hallowed halls of the fashion industry, the corridors of power in Washington, the inspiring open spaces of Australia and the green lanes of his beloved Oxfordshire countryside. His life could and should be an inspiration to gay folk of all ages, whoever and wherever you are.
Sunrise, the Mill, Cuxham, Oxfordshire
On October 13, the world's media, from the BBC to the Economist to the Huffingtonm Post, exploded with enthusiastic headlines "A Giant Leap for Gays, "The Earthquake that shook the Vatican", "The Shift to a Softer Tone" and "A Sea Change." Just a week later, and after Lustralboy revealed a darker tone emanating from Cardinal Burke, the story had changed to "Vatican Waters Down...", "Vatican Backtracks..." and "Gays still Unwelcome".
Not only was this a huge disappointment to gay catholics who had naively believed that their homophobic bishops were about to undergo a Damascean conversion to gay tolerance, it was also a major setback for the more compassionate new Pope, Francis, and a top drawer PR debacle for the Vatican.
Happily, in a subsequent update, we were able to announce that Burke had beeen fired. In subsequent weeks, Pope Francis has laid into the Vatican Curia, describing his conservative cardinals in less than glowing terms. Having never worked in Rome before his election as pope last year, and, as a Vatican outsider from the other end of the world, he is clearly frustrated by the slow-moving Vatican bureaucracy, complaining of "spiritual Alzheimer's" and "the terrorism of gossip". Will he pull off a revolution? In the interests of the world's many gay Catholics, we sincerely hope so.
The Pope sparing no blushes as he criticises the Curia in Rome.
In recent months, our feature topics have focussed on the issues faced by gay sportsmen, gay Roman Catholics, young gays coming out and senior gays looking for love. We regularly turn our gaze to the repressive regimes of many African states, as well as that of Russia and those of the Middle East. One topic, however, remained unexplored. It burst into view with the news that Japan, that most conservative of cultures, had witnessed a gender-exploring event at one of its high schools. This fostered both a news item and this feature, an introductory tour of the world of transgender.
More publically, the catwalks and editorials of the fashion industry have focussed increasingly on young, androgynous males to model their designs for women. The star of that community, Andrej Pejic, only recently declared himself as a woman, Andreja.
Andreja Pejic, supermodel.
So as the year comes to an end we look forward to more excitement in 2015, wary, as always, of the dark corners of homophobia still lurking in the world, but inspired by the individual examples of courage that constantly cross our vision and the irresistible signs of progress that must strike ever greater fear into the hearts of the bitter and bigotted. It's not just Kylie and Sir Ian who have something to smile about.
A Warwick Rower fund raiser makes an impact on Sir Ian and Kylie.
Happy New Year, one and all.
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