So you’re feeling a bit tired at the end of 2003. It’s been a busy year, and with all the sodomy and marriage going on, it’s no wonder we’re all exhausted.
A year ago seems so far away — a long time ago in a land where a religious cult announced that human cloning was a reality, and helpfully offered its services to reproductively-minded gays and lesbians. Unsurprisingly, that’s a meme that’s faded from the scene.
Since then we’ve watched a year with shock and awe, as our televisions were overrun with gay men either competing with heterosexuals, or providing them with grooming tips. The military took time out from the war on terror to continue discharging much-needed specialists who had the temerity to be homosexual. A pack of Democratic presidential candidates court our vote, being supportive (Go civil unions!) without being too supportive (Go away gay marriage!).
In the end, 2003 will go down in history as the year everything changed for the gay and lesbian community. By itself, the Supreme Court ruling overturning sodomy laws would have made any year historic. Massachusetts setting gay marriage in motion was more than anyone would have expected even a few short years ago.
But a year is more than two or three big events — it’s a space in time observed by many people, all of whom bring their own perspective. Here is 2003, a year in the words of the people who lived it.
“It was a jaw-dropping experience.Â… My future has become clearer. I am 22 this year. I can plan my life a little better. I can have a brighter future.” — D.C. resident Clifford Terry on his reaction to the Supreme Court ruling overturning sodomy laws (“Victory Party,” July 3)
“The advance of gay and lesbian civil rights is moving so fast that we’re not one hundred percent prepared for the national debate about marriage.” — Patrick Guerriero, executive director of Log Cabin Republicans, speaking after the Supreme Court sodomy ruling, before the Massachusetts marriage ruling (“Right Here, Right Now,” July 10)
“This building will forever send a clear message to the world: We are strong, we are worthy, we are passionate, and we will not rest until we have achieved perfect equality — nothing more and nothing less.” — Human Rights Campaign Executive Director Elizabeth Birch at the dedication of the organization’s new headquarters building (“Building Blocks” October 16)
“You’re never going to find a candidate who is one hundred percent [for] everything that you believe in. But find somebody who has the right values, the right beliefs, who you think is going to be the strongest leader. And I think that’s my dad.” — Chrissy Gephardt on the presidential candidacy of her father, Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) (“Family Affair,” November 13)
“I don’t know whether it will [hurt me] or not. I frankly don’t care. You’ve got to be honest with people about who you are and what your family is. And if they don’t like it there’s nothing I can do about it.” — Rep. Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.) on the possible impact on his presidential campaign of having a lesbian daughter (“Family Affair,” November 13)
“I do think the average member of Congress overwhelmingly is well-motivated. Most members of Congress are really there because they want to do what they think is the right thing for the world, though I don’t agree with some of their views. But there’s also less perfection, there’s a lot more human emotion and error.” — Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) (“Monumentally Frank,” March 20)
“There are some things that are so overwhelming and beyond your impact that you really just have to turn it over to the Lord. If indeed they decide that the war on terror is going to require all HIV prevention money, you join the fight, you do the protest, you do the letters. But if the bulk of the country, which is not like you, decides that taking that money makes sense to them, it’s all over but the shouting.” — Ron Simmons, executive director of Us Helping Us (“Taking the Lead,” February 6)
“It’s not sexy — it’s rotting skin with chemicals on it. People grow up with such limited ideas of what’s sexy and what’s edgy. Sex is about cutting loose and having fun. There’s nothing fun about animals being skinned.” — Dan Mathews, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), at an anti-leather protest during Mid-Atlantic Leather (MAL) Weekend (“Showing Some Skin,” January 23)
“My problem with fake leather is that it’s processed. It’s usually made from petrochemicals and the end result is that a lot more damage is done to the environment and the animals living in it by the chemicals.” — MAL participant and Mr. Atlantic Canada Leather 2001 Leith Chu (“Showing Some Skin,” January 23)
“I went to the library, [made] sure no one could see what I was reading, and learned. I even called Masters & Johnson and spoke to Dr. Masters. He suggested reparative therapy. Fortunately I was smart enough not to take his advice.” — Sheron Rosen, president of the metro chapter of Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) on how she coped with her son’s coming out. (“Maternal Instinct,” March 27)
“The enforcement of the law rests in the hands of local prosecutors who will now have a tool to selectively target and prosecute events or groups they don’t like. [Sen. Joe] Biden has produced a sloppily crafted and ill-advised piece of legislation that will result primarily in unintended, yet serious consequences, including the prosecution of innocent people.” — Mark Lee, promoter of the Sunday night party Lizard Lounge, on the passage of the RAVE Act, a federal law that holds nightclubs and party promoters criminally liable for drug use at their venues (“Squeeze Play,” April 17)
“These laws could put my ass in jail. That’s why I’m here, because I don’t think we should be held responsible for other people’s actions.” — DJ Junior Vasquez, spinning at a Capitol Hill protest against the RAVE Act (“RAVE On,” September 11)
“Everybody likes going to warehouse bars, but every now and then I think neighborhood bars do offer a certain kind of comfort level. Maybe you don’t know the patron next to you, but you’ve seen them enough, so it makes you feel comfortable.… Some people want to have this huge house, other people want to have something nice and quaint.” — Robert Jones, owner of Nob Hill (“King of the Hill,” May 22)
“At a time that we have more and more people coming to us, we’re getting less and less support. That led us to ask, how can we enhance our revenue to be able to provide for those who have no support? And so for people who come to us because of the quality of our care, but who have means, can give something so that the person who’s making eight thousand or ten thousand a year — which are ninety percent of the people who come to us — can continue to get health care [from us].” — Whitman-Walker Clinic Executive Director Cornelius Baker on the organization’s decision to begin charging for some services on a sliding scale (“Far From Over,” November 20)
“There are no sex scenes or car chases [in The Hours] and it’s full of lesbians. And not even lesbians doing things that straight boys could jerk off to.” — Author Michael Cunningham on the surprising success of his novel, and the movie adaptation starring Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman. (“Man of the Hours,” January 23)
“I couldn’t believe it because I’d always had a chip on my shoulder thinking nobody gets past the joke of drag, that maybe I’m actuallyÂ…doing a little acting here. But this very estimable jury did go beyond the drag and thought I gave a worthwhile performance.” — Charles Busch, writer and star of Die Mommie Die!, on winning an acting award at the Sundance Film Festival (“Busch League,” February 20)
“In Washington, where there are dozens of choruses. GMCW has to be a little different, and that’s the stamp I’ve wanted to put on it — to do things differently, to always have that edge, to always be gay, and to always do more than just entertain our audience, but move them in all different kinds of ways.” — Jeff Buhrman, artistic director of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington (“Lots of Love,” March 20)
“I remember walking through the halls and people would talk about me behind my back and think I didn’t hear them, or maybe they did it on purpose — ‘I hate girls who dress like boys,’ or ‘Look at that dyke.’ I hate that word. So people would often say that even though they think I can’t hear. I have really good hearing. One time I went to the girls’ bathroom, and they were like, ‘I didn’t know they let shims use the bathroom.’ That was pretty harsh. But I got over it.” — Eighteen-year-old Jay Williams, who this year began his physical transformation from female to male, on some of his experiences in high school. (“Beautiful Transiformaton,” April 10)
“Not everybody is into the superhero thing. For me, comics are as valid as magazines or novels or television – it’s another form of media. So I had to figure out a way to reach the non-comic-reading people.” — Michael-Christopher, author and artist of Living the Life, a comic following the lives of a group of African-American gay men. (“Life Lines,” July 24)
“Despite that D.C. is one of the top five U.S. cities for Asian population, we’re still always going to be struggling. I can’t imagine how they do it in other parts of the country.” — Joseph Truong, co-chair of Asian Queers United for Action (AQUA) on the challenges facing the GLBT Asian community (“Go East!: The Queer A/PI Community Gets Proud,” May 5)
“I never believed two guys could live together and be happy. But my whole life changed when I ran into my partner Sam, because I fell upside-down, crazy in love. That complicated everything else, because I had a wife, I was a baseball player, and I became very confused.” — Former pro baseball player Billy Bean on his coming out process (“Out of the Park,” May 15)
“I love watching episodes of the race and seeing how well Chip and I worked together. Because we were such an awesome team. And I wish Chip and I could be the team that we were on the race in real life. But we’re not.” — Reichen Lehmkuhl, winner of the reality series The Amazing Race, on his break-up with his husband and co-winner, Chip Arndt (“Reichen’s Reality,” October 2)
“If you look just at the news coverage of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy alone, you’d be convinced that there weren’t any straight people on television.” — Joan Garry, executive director of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) (“Visible Progress,” August 21)
“Every time I did [crystal meth], I was like ‘This is the one for me, this is the great drug.‘ It’s cheap. It lasts for twenty hours. Sex is great. You think you’re brilliant. And you can drive. Or so you think you can drive.” — Singer Rufus Wainwright on his experiences with drugs (“The Reluctant Hedonist,” September 25)
“I think that our biggest limitation in terms of self actualization is our own inability to dream on a very grand scale. The main thing that often can hold us back is the inability to see a larger picture for ourselves.” — Choreographer and dancer Dana Tai Soon Burgess (“Moving History,” October 30)
“I remember being at a Mautner [Project] event and still being a smoker. And let me just tell you how horrifying that is! I’m not going to say it was the exact reason I quit, but it sure as hell helps things along to have a thousand women staring at you like you’re a leper.” — Comic Suzanne Westenhoefer on quitting smoking (“Funny Girl,” September 18)