1. JUNE 26: DECISION DAY
Let’s all shout out a cry of victory triumphant! How do we begin to describe how we felt, as a community, on that incredible day? On June 26, the Supreme Court reached a decision in the case of U.S. v. Windsor and struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act. Overturning the 1996 law that denied federal benefits to same-sex couples, the court’s decision allows those who live in states where marriage equality exists to get the same federal benefits as straight couples. The other amazing thing that happened on June 26? The Supreme Court refused to decide Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Prop 8 case, allowing same-sex nups to resume in California. Best gay day ever, so far? Yep, pretty much!
2. FAMOUS COMINGS OUT, THIS YEAR’S EDITION
This past year abounded with newly minted celesbians and famous comings out. Here’s the short list: Brittney Griner, Charice Pempengco, Raven-Symone, Maria Bello, Robin Roberts, Djuan Trent and Ellen Page. Although these women approached the moment of truth in different ways, we were especially impressed with the way Page did it. In a deeply moving speech at HRC’s Time to Thrive conference in Las Vegas, on Valentine’s Day, she said: “Loving other people starts with loving ourselves and accepting ourselves…I am here today because I am gay.”
3. KILL THE GAYS
While LGBT rights expanded in much of the world, particularly here at home, they took a giant step backwards in countries like Uganda, Nigeria and India. Uganda’s much-publicized anti-homosexuality bill passed in December, with a punishment of life in prison (as opposed to the death penalty) for the crime of “aggravated homosexuality.” In January, Nigeria’s president signed a similar bill, the Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act. Incidentally, part of Nigeria recommends death by stoning for lesbian and gay people. Meanwhile, India’s highest court issued a decision that essentially recriminalizes homosexuality. If we haven’t mentioned that there’s still a lot of work to do, there’s still a lot of work to do
4. ELLEN AT THE OSCARS
In March, the wonderfully witty Ellen DeGeneres hosted the Academy Awards for the second time. After the show, however, reviews were decidedly mixed. Some critics thought she did a decent job; others thought she stunk up the place. One of her less-than-stellar moments was a cruel jab at Liza Minnelli: “I have to say, [you’re] one of the most impressive Liza Minnelli impersonators I’ve seen in my life. Really, seriously, good job, sir.” Her best moment? A group selfie with a gaggle of A-listers, including Meryl Streep and Bradley Cooper, which she then uploaded, crashing Twitter. That epic stunt deserves its own Oscar.
5. BOSTON BOMBERS
No one expected a terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon on April 15, but it happened. Two shrapnel-packed pressure cooker bombs detonated into a crowd of spectators, killing three people and leaving hundreds injured. Cops and federal investigators scoured a 15 block radius, but came up with no suspects. Three days later, the FBI released images of two Chechen brothers suspected of carrying out the attacks. A string of clues and a stolen SUV led investigators to Watertown, a Boston suburb, where police shot and killed Tamerlan Tsarnaev. His younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, fled on foot, prompting an intense house-to-house manhunt. On April 19, he was found hiding in a boat in someone’s backyard and taken into custody. Charged with using a weapon of mass destruction, he now faces a 30-count indictment and maybe the death penalty.
6. I CAN HAZ PANDA?
Wildlife watchers went ape when they learned that the National Zoo’s female giant panda, Mei Xiang, successfully delivered a live cub in August. The extremely rare event caused panda-monium (sorry) on the Internet, where the zoo’s popular panda cam allowed millions of fans to watch the tiny furball nursing, getting checkups, cuddling with Mom and tumbling around in the secluded nest. Sensing a marketing op, the zoo crowdsourced suggestions for the cub’s name and then asked fans to vote on their favorite. The winner: Bao Bao, which means “precious” in Mandarin. She made her outdoor debut in April, giving her followers a glimpse of her un-bear-able cuteness. (We’ll stop now.)
7. MEMES, MEMES, MEMES
The wild, wacky interwebz seemed to explode with memes this year. Grumpy Cat, Sweet Brown and Ridiculously Photogenic Guy still retained some of the spotlight early on, but they were soon eclipsed by Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka, selfies, Brent Rambo, doge, Harlem Shake, What Does the Fox Say and our personal fave, Travoltified. What’s GO Magazine, travoltified? We are the “wickedly talented” Grant Marftinez. Don’t know what any of this means? Good for you!
8. THE YEAR OF THE OUT GAY ATHLETE
They’re here, they’re queer…and they look good naked! In an interview with Sports Illustrated last spring, Brittney Griner, a WNBA All-Star, publicly came out as a lesbian. She also disclosed in the interview that she’d experienced bullying as a child and wants to raise awareness about that issue. Although she’s not the first athlete to do so, her coming out was followed by other sports figures, including Jason Collins, a center for the Boston Celtics and Michael Sam, a college football star and top NFL prospect. And this February, in Sochi, seven openly gay athletes competed in the Winter Olympics. Yay for gay!
9. ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK
Netflix struck gold last July when it released its dramatic prison series, Orange Is the New Black, created by Jenji Kohan. It quickly became a smash hit. The series is based on Piper Kerman’s real-life prison experiences, as revealed in her memoir, Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison. The words “women’s prison” tend to pique the interest of lesbians, of course, and (thankfully) cellblock sapphism wasn’t completely lost on Netflix. OITNB’s anxiously awaited second season premieres June 6. And we dykes kinda think we’ve helped its success!
10. DIANA IN HAVANA
Lesbian long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad swam from Cuba to the Florida Keys last summer. It was her fifth attempt to swim those 110 miles, and she did it without a shark cage, which seemed bananas. But she did it! After 53 hours in shark-infested waters, she reached the beach in Key West, breaking distance records along the way. Sure, there are skeptics and haters, but most of us are confident of her authenticity as a world-class athlete and proud of her achievement. As for her recent competition on Dancing with the Stars, she’d better keep her day job, swimming with sharks. (She was eliminated during her second week on the show.)
11. CRIME AND NO PUNISHMENT
Two years ago, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an African-American high school student, was gunned down while walking through a gated community in Florida. The shooter, George Zimmerman, was a twenty-something, self-appointed neighborhood watchman. He claimed that there had been a verbal altercation between himself and the unarmed boy that escalated into something physical. So of course he had to pull out a gun and shoot to kill. Last July, during Zimmerman’s second-degree murder trial, his lawyers claimed that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law permitted him to take the boy’s life. Shockingly, the jury agreed. We love you, Florida, but that is fucked up.
12. ONE FEARLESS FEMALE
The Pakistani education activist Malala Yousafzai was in the news for the wrong reason back in 2012. Taliban vigilantes shot the now 16-year-old in the face as she rode on her school bus, critically wounding her. She received medical care in England and miraculously pulled through, her courage completely unfazed. The crime caused a wellspring of worldwide support for Yousafzai and drew more attention to the injustices women and girls face in developing countries. Now recovered, Yousafzai published her autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, in 2013; gave a stirring speech at the U.N.; and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. We’re sure this fearless young woman is only getting started.
13. SNOWPOCALYSE REDUX
To be honest, we’d rather just put it out of our minds, once and for all. But the Winter That Wouldn’t Die deserves an epitaph. When the polar vortex blanketed half of North America back in January, our vision of an idyllic winter spent sledding in Central Park or sipping hot cocoa blew away with the constant blizzards. Storm after storm dumped unwanted inches of snow on top of blackened mounds of ice and garbage. Landlords just gave up shoveling the sidewalks. Alternate-side parking rules were suspended for a month—that’s how bad it was. Try your best to forget.
14. MARRIAGE EQUALITY SWEEPS THE NATION…AND THE WORLD!
It was a breakthrough year for marriage equality. Same-sex marriages became legal in California (again!), Delaware, Minnesota, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, and briefly in Utah and Michigan. Same-sex couples can now marry in a little over one-third of the country. Elsewhere around the globe, nations such as Brazil, France, Uruguay, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have also enacted marriage equality legislation. It’s time to celebrate our victories! It’s also time to intensify our efforts to change laws throughout the rest of the world. We have a long road ahead.
15. RIGHT WING’S “HOBBY” HORSE
Officially, it’s called Sibelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Unofficially, it’s one of the most divisive social-issue cases to come before the Supreme Court since, oh, 2013. The Oklahoma-based craft store chain is refusing to comply with the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate on religious grounds. The argument: Hobby Lobby is a family-owned corporation; contraception is against the family’s religious beliefs, so employees will not be able to get contraceptive care through company health insurance plans. The justices will have to decide if a company can have religious beliefs, or if women’s right to medical care trumps a corporation’s feelings. The decision, expected this April, may come down to a tie-breaker between the court’s conservative and liberal justices
16. YOU BETTER TWERK
Whether you love or hate Miley Cyrus and her raunchy antics, you gotta admit she’s quite the performer. Last August, the superstar twerked her way right into the headlines with her sexually provocative moves during the MTV Video Music Awards. Since then, she’s been grabbing her crotch, kissing girls, pissing off Sinead O’Connor and swinging on her “Wrecking Ball”—all the while playing sold-out shows and selling gazillions of records. Whew! Way to twerk it, Miley.
17. “HOMOPHOBIA-I HAS IT”
Putin. As in, “put in Gulag if you are gay…” Last summer, Russian president Vladimir Putin declared war on LGBT people by enacting draconian, anti-gay legislation. For instance, allowing police to arrest foreign nationals that they suspect of being lesbian, gay or “pro-gay” and detaining them for up to two weeks. He also made it illegal to distribute LGBT information in Russia, under an anti-gay “propaganda” law. How about outlawing adoption for those who are gay—or even if you’re straight but live in a country that allows same-sex marriage? Of course. All these laws sparked outrage, which impacted the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Numerous world leaders snubbed the opening ceremony. Interestingly, though, in a bizarre photo-op, Putin warmly hugged lesbian speed skater Ireen Wust and congratulated her on her gold medal.
18. HEALTHCARE.GOV NEEDED FIRST AID
In October, uninsured Americans could finally sign up for health insurance mandated by the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare). Millions would have access to quality healthcare, costs would go down, and our society would be healthier as a whole. What could possibly go wrong? Right away, Healthcare.gov crashed. Conservative lawmakers rubbed their hands with glee and Fox News pundits predicted the end of Obamacare before it even began. But slowly the technical glitches were fixed, deadlines were extended, and President Obama took a turn on “Between Two Ferns” to get his message across. By March 31 at midnight, the goal of 7,000,000 new signups was exceeded. Take that, haters!
Three years ago, Prince William and Kate Middleton’s big royal wedding slurped up the bandwidth. (But that was nothing compared to the worldwide media spectacle of Charles and Diana’s ceremony, 30 years before.) This year, it was all about the royal bundle of joy. When George Alexander Louis, Prince of Cambridge, finally arrived on July 22, a wood and gold easel was quietly placed outside Buckingham Palace announcing his birth. It seemed ridiculously understated, even for Brits, yet it turns out that William’s own birth was announced on that same easel. It’s a touching family tradition. Oh, those royals…what’ll they do next? Make another baby, of course!
20. GONE WITH THE WIND
You’ve undoubtedly seen, heard, read and discussed all there is to know about this missing plane. In case you live under a rock, though, here goes: Malaysian Airlines flight 370 took off from Kuala Lumpur in the wee hours of March 8, loaded with 239 passengers and crew, bound for Beijing. Then it disappeared. Poof. After inadequate, delayed and conflicting reports from the Malaysian government, a multinational search effort was launched, which turned up next to nothing. Satellite images have since shown nebulous, pixelated debris in the vast Indian Ocean. Is it a plane? It is a bird? Is it plastic bags from Fresh Kills? Ask Courtney Love; at this point, she’s as good an investigator as any. As we go to press, there’s still no tangible evidence of the plane’s whereabouts and no confirmed debris from any presumed crash site. Maybe someday we’ll discover what happened; maybe we won’t. For now, it’s one of the strangest, unsolved mysteries of our time.
21. SUPER TYPHOON, MASSIVE DESTRUCTION
One of the most powerful cyclones on record raged across the North Pacific Ocean in early November, packing terrifying winds, disgorging torrential rains and whipping the seas into colossal waves. The mammoth storm, dubbed Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in the Philippines), flooded swaths of Palau, Vietnam and China and made landfall at Tacloban, a major city in the Philippines. Hundreds of homes and businesses were flattened by a crushing storm surge and winds measuring 195 miles per hour. Filipino officials considered it “the country’s worst natural disaster.” Some wondered if destructive storms like Super Typhoon Haiyan would become more common due to our warming climate. Time will tell.
22. OUTING BIG BROTHER
Thanks to Edward Snowden —the International Man of Mystery who last summer leaked NSA files and other classified plunder to the media—we’re no longer blissfully unaware that our government is spying on us. After the feds charged him with espionage and yanked his U.S. passport, Snowden remained in limbo at the Moscow airport for 39 days. Finally, in August, he was granted temporary asylum in Russia. From there, he’s sent videotaped messages, even participated in teleconferences and a TED talk. You can’t keep a good spy down. But is he a good guy or a bad guy? Whistleblower or traitor? Sleuth or snake in the grass? You be the judge.
23. CRUZIN’ FOR A BRUISIN’
Joe McCarthy doppelganger/Republican Senator Ted Cruz held Congress captive during an elaborately staged filibuster of a bill to fund the Affordable Care Act and other federal programs in September. While he was wasting everyone’s time reciting “Green Eggs and Ham,” the government edged toward a virtual shutdown. Beginning October 1, federal offices closed and 800,000 workers were temporarily furloughed. In one awkward TV moment, veterans were stopped from visiting the National WWII memorial (a federal property). Republican lawmakers rushed to their aid, blissfully ignorant of their role in the fiasco, and chastised Park Service employees on camera. Fortunately, a deal was brokered on October 16 and Congress returned to its regularly scheduled gridlock.
24. SOCHI PROBLEMS
Despite Putin’s douchebaggery and poor planning, athletes from all over the world competed at the Winter Olympics, including seven out lesbian/bisexual women. Many of us at home still tuned in to NBC’s coverage. It was often difficult to watch—what with the time difference, Bob Costas’ grotesque eye infection and Matt Lauer’s smug yet lackluster commentary. But watch we did, as the good ‘ol USA took home 28 medals, nine of them gold. It was also super-fun to follow the backstories on social media. #sochiproblems.
25. DON’T MESS WITH DAVIS
Before June 25, 2013, few people outside of Texas knew who Wendy Davis was. But that day, the State Senator, a democrat representing the Dallas area, stood up for millions of women by filibustering Texas Senate Bill 5. The legislation would have banned abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, required clinics providing abortions to meet the same standards as hospital surgical centers, and force doctors providing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. In her pink sneakers, Davis held the floor and ran out the clock so a vote could not be taken, and it was all streamed on the web. Though the bill later passed, Davis’ newfound star power might win her the governor’s office this November against Republican nominee Greg Abbott.
26. ENDA MAKES HISTORY, BUT WHERE WILL IT GO FROM HERE?
The long and winding road for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) ended last November, for now, with a historic 2-to-1 passing vote in the Senate. But there it lies, dormant, at the feet of the House. It seems perfectly logical to pass a bill that would prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Joe Biden made that clear in his speech at the recent HRC gala in Los Angeles. But ENDA has been introduced in nearly every Congress for the past 20 years, and it has never yet passed. Sigh. Don’t forget ENDA when you’re voting for members of Congress this November.
27. CHEMICAL REACTION
On a serious note, more than two years of ongoing conflict in Syria turned even deadlier in August. A team of UN chemical weapons inspectors confirmed that sarin—a toxic nerve agent, classified as a weapon of mass destruction—was used on Ghouta, an agricultural community near Damascus. More than 1,400 civilians were killed in the attack. In the face of worldwide condemnation and threats of military intervention, Syria agreed to surrender its stockpile of lethal chemical weapons. But the Syrian conflict rages on.
28. CRIMEA RIVER
What a difference a month makes—March, specifically. As the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, wound down, protests in Ukraine against the government’s coziness with Russian president Vladimir Putin reached a boiling point. In rapid succession, pro-E.U. protesters stormed Kiev, the Ukrainian prime minister was forced into exile, the imprisoned former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was released from jail, and the Russian military invaded Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. Voters in Crimea then decided to secede and join Russia, alarming Western leaders, who think Putin isn’t done playing a life-size version of Stratego yet. Your move, NATO.
29. IT’S COMPLICATED
In February, Facebook opened up a whole new lexicon of LGBTQ-friendly gender identity and pronoun options. From “transmasculine” to “Two-Spirit” and “non-binary” to “neither,” we can now get really, really, really specific about our self-identities. Cool. But 58 options…could that overwhelm even the post-pomo queer theorists and gender anarchists among us? Nah. It may seem complicated, but, hey—that’s the way we like it.
30. GONE, NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN
People around the world mourned the death of a truly global leader in December. Nelson Mandela, the former political prisoner who became the first black president of post-Apartheid South Africa, died at the age of 95 of a respiratory infection. Admirers filled a massive stadium in Johannesburg for a memorial service attended by more than 100 world leaders, including four U.S. presidents. Millions more celebrated Mandela’s life at spontaneous memorials across the world. “Among innumerable other accomplishments, he is credited for creating the world’s first constitution to protect people against discrimination based on sexual orientation,” said GO publisher Amy Lesser at the time.
PHOTOS BY: 1. Joshua Roberts/Reuters; 2. Ninha Morandi/Wikipedia; 3. James Akena/Reuters; 4. Ellen DeGeneres/Getty Images; 5. National Parks Conservation Association; 6. Bill Clements/National Zoo; 7. YouTube; 8. Michael Wa/Flickr; 9. Netflix; 10. Hammer Nutrition; 11. Ann Harkness/Flickr; 12. E.U. 2013 European Parliament; 13. Patrick Cashin/MTA; 14. Reuters; 15. Nicholas Eckhart/Flickr; 16. Rob Sinclair/Wikipedia; 17. Marco Fieber/Flickr; 18. Will O’Neill/Flickr; 19. Reuters; 20. Jason Lee/Reuters; 21. Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Young/Dept. of Defense; 22. Wikipedia; 23: John Tlumacki/Getty Images; 24. David Gray/Reuters; 25. MoveOn.org; 26. Jonathan Ernst/Reuters; 27. Wikipedia; 28. Maksymenko Oleksandr/Flickr; 29. Topol6/Flickr; 30. CharlyWKarl/Flickr