A Mixed Bag

Despite some big national LGBT victories, there were plenty of reasons to want 2012 to make way for 2013

When it comes down to it, most years really are a mixed bag when it comes to defining them as ”good” or ”bad.” A good one that comes to mind for me is 2007, the year my husband and I had our totally-not-legal Virginia wedding ceremony. Another is 2009, the year I launched the Metro Weekly Next Generation Awards and also the year I adopted a diet and exercise regime that led me to drop 30 pounds.

The fact that I now need to repeat that 2009 diet-and-exercise feat is a good indicator of how I feel about 2012.

The past year hasn’t been all bad, although when you look at one of the categories we all consider when evaluating a year past — death — things can look bleak, even when you leave out the gun violence that came to a deadly climax this December. Too many people passed away in 2012 for me to list them all, but three stand out for me personally: Peter Fox, a person I knew only professionally, but a person who had touched the lives of so many of my friends; David Chung, a longtime friend to so many and a newfound friend of mine, who left all of us mourning; and Spencer Cox, a man I knew mostly through reputation but who was integral in creating the AIDS-activism movement that I worked in — first as an activist, then as a public-health advocate — for almost a decade.

When Frank Kameny died in 2011 it was another mournful moment for our community, though one tinged with pride for what he had accomplished for us as LGBT people over the course of his 86 years of life. Unfortunately, Kameny’s death has kept on giving our community reasons for sadness in 2012, but without the attached pride. First there were the squabbling lawsuits over various items, which I suppose I can understand — even if they targeted some people with whom I share friendship and respect — because I’ve seen enough estate fights to know that life after a death tends to be messy.

But then came the news that Kameny’s estate was trademarking his historic phrase, ”Gay is good,” a money-grabbing step never taken by Kameny himself in the more than four decades after which he coined the phrase and during which he employed it repeatedly and effectively on behalf of all of us, especially those of us who weren’t yet born when he thought it up. Leaving aside the fact that American intellectual property law is an outdated morass the primarily serves to fatten up patent, copyright and trademark trolls, the idea that a turn of phrase uttered specifically to free our community from inequality and oppression — and that was used by all of us for decades in pursuit of that same goal — would now be commoditized into private property to be uttered and used only after receiving special dispensation or paying specific compensation frankly sickens me.

Wherever you identify along the L, G, B, T or Q scale, I invite you to say it along with me every day, loud and proud: ”Gay is good!” Because your slogan may be the next one up for grabs.

Of course, 2012 wasn’t totally depressing. We went from dozens of ballot-box defeats on marriage over a decade to four victories in one night. We finished our first year free of ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the world kept turning. The nation re-elected a president who came out in support of our marriage rights. Those moments — along with the moments of joy and kindness, both large and small, in our private lives — are proof that 2012 wasn’t a fully ”good” year, neither was it fully ”bad.”

Let’s see what we can do to make 2013 a little better.

Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.