Change Makers

Our Year in Review April 2012 - April 2013

Tumultuous and triumphant moments from the past 12 months

1. SUPERSTORM OF THE CENTURY

Gaining intensity from a tropical storm to a powerful hurricane as it swept north from the Caribbean, Sandy pummeled the coastal areas of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut in October. Terrifying winds, colossal waves and a deluge of rain swamped the tri-state, and when it was all over, the community of Breezy Point, Queens, lay in charred ruins—felled by a wind-whipped wildfire. Hundreds of homes and businesses were demolished by nature’s power. On the bright side, thousands of volunteers collected and distributed food, supplies and services to residents in hard-hit areas, a process that is still underway. It’s hard to make jokes about the Jersey Shore these days.

2. RIDE ON INTO THE SUNSET            
           
A true American idol and advocate for science passed away in July. Astronaut Sally Ride, trained as a physicist, became the first American woman in space when Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off for the shuttle program’s seventh mission in 1983. She flew one more mission in 1984 before retiring from orbit. Afterwards, she joined the Stanford University Center for International Security and Arms Control, taught physics at UC San Diego, and worked to engage girls in science for more than two decades. When she died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 61, many were surprised to hear that she was survived by her longtime partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy.            

3. GO’S TIN ANNIVERSARY

GO reached double digits in September as we celebrated our tenth year! Melissa Etheridge graced our cover and gave GO an exclusive interview about her favorite memories from her long career. In our decade of publishing GO, we grew from a pocket-sized magazine to the size you hold now, featured dozens of celesbians, covered hundreds—maybe thousands!—of arts and entertainment events, and gave you the inside scoop on the hottest parties across the country. Here’s to ten more.

4. MARRIAGE MORES ON TRIAL

Two landmark cases challenging anti-gay marriage rights reached the Supreme Court in March. The first, Hollingsworth v. Perry, argued that California’s Proposition 8 was unconstitutional. (That 2008 law took away the right of gay and lesbian Californians to marry.) The second, Windsor v. U.S., urged a repeal of the loathsome Defense of Marriage Act. Early predictions, which are often sketchy, suggested that the justices questioned the rationale for continuing discrimination in both suits. The momentousness of the occasion brought hundreds supporters to the steps of the Supreme Court with colorful signs and plenty of feather boas. We won’t know the ruling until June at the earliest, but in the words of plaintiff Edie Windsor, 83, “I think it’s gonna be good.”

5. WE LOVE THE NIGHTLIFE
           
GO hosted the very first lesbian event at the swanky new “straight-friendly” gay hotel, Out NYC, in May. The Fifth Annual GO Magazine Readers Choice Nightlife Awards (what a mouthful!) invited all of the DJs, bar owners, independent promoters, go-go girls, bartenders and nightlife personalities who make NYC the capital of the lesbian scene to the sleek XL Nightclub. Hundreds of women cheered for the live acts, which included an exclusive set from Hunter Valentine and showbiz quips from Murray Hill. Despite a few snafus in the beginning of the evening—a backdrop that failed to materialize for the red carpet, for example—we still managed to throw one hell of a party. And isn’t that what it’s all about?
           
6. IT WAS REAL, AND IT WAS SPECTACULAR                      
                      
New York City’s fabulous females frolicked at the sophisticated AOA Lounge on December 31. GO threw its first New Year’s Eve Spectacular with DJ Stacy, DJ Whitney Day and DJ Lezz Van Halen on the decks, all manner of noisemakers and a bubbly toast at midnight—plus a direct feed from the festivities at Times Square on 20 big-screen TVs.

7. MURDER AND MAYHEM

Unspeakable tragedy struck the small central Connecticut village of Newtown in December, when a deranged 20-year-old gunman, Adam Lanza, fatally shot 20 first-graders and six school administrators at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Earlier in the day, Lanza had shot and killed his mother with her own rifle. He later committed suicide in the school. Incredibly, the massacre was only the second most deadly mass murder in U.S. history; the 2007 Virginia Tech bloodbath counted 32 killed and 17 wounded. The horror of the event prompted lawmakers to call for stricter gun control laws, including consumer background checks on all firearm purchases.
 
8. RUSSIAN RIOT

In August, three members of the anarchic Russian music collective Pussy Riot were found guilty of “hooliganism,” a charge stemming from their anti-Putin protest at Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior the previous February. Two members were sent to prison camps; the third was freed on probation with a suspended sentence. The harsh judgment was denounced around the world as retaliation by Putin’s government and activists took to the streets in many cities to protest the crackdown on dissent. Feminist and punk celebrities who publicly supported the group included Karen Finley, JD Samson, Madonna, Martina Navratilova, Patti Smith and many more.
 
9. KIM AND KANYE ARE HAVING A BABY

In July, Kourtney Kardashian delivered Penelope Scotland, her little bundle of joy with on-again, off-again beau Scott Disick. But that wasn’t the biggest baby news in the land of Reality TV: older sister Kim announced she was expecting with her boyfriend, hip hop star Kanye West, in December. We confidently predict that Kimye’s offspring will have a first name that begins with K, regardless of gender. In unrelated news, Biggest Loser personality Jillian Michaels and her partner Heidi Rhoades adopted toddler Lukensia in May 2012, while Rhoades gave birth to baby brother Phoenix the same week.

10. FAMOUS COMINGS OUT, THIS YEAR’S EDITION

Oy, who could forget Jodie Foster’s rambling speech demanding her privacy at the Golden Globes in January? The famously reclusive star, accepting a lifetime achievement award from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, edged around the topic of her sexual orientation in such a deft way that people couldn’t decide if she had just come out or not. Such is the postmodern view of sexuality, we guess. Other stars were a little more direct: CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, ABC News weather stud Sam Champion and R&B singer Frank Ocean all leapt out of the closet in 2012 with varying methods. A-Coop delivered a sheepish letter to his pal, columnist Andrew Sullivan, who then published it; Champion married his partner Rubem Robierb; and Ocean posted a heartfelt confession on his Tumblr.

11. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT

Get with the program, tarheels. In May, North Carolina voters opted to ban all legal recognition of same-sex relationships, including domestic partnerships, civil unions and marriages that were legally performed elsewhere. “The whole point is simply that you don't rewrite the nature of God's design based on the demands of a group of adults,” Tami Fitzgerald, head of pro-amendment group Vote FOR Marriage NC, told the Associated Press. Opponents of the drastic ballot measure argued that it amounted to redundant discrimination, considering that the state’s constitution already explicitly banned same-sex marriage. The measure’s passage stood out awkwardly in a year that also saw incredible gains for LGBT equality in other ballot measures.

12. ALLY-IN-CHIEF

President Obama’s moral “evolution” on the subject of marriage equality concluded in Darwinian fashion in May, when he revealed his support for same-sex marriage in an ABC News interview with Robin Roberts. “At a certain point, I've just concluded that—for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that—I think same-sex couples should be able to get married. Now—I have to tell you that part of my hesitation on this has also been I didn't want to nationalize the issue. There's a tendency when I weigh in to think suddenly it becomes political and it becomes polarized,” the president said. Vice President Joe Biden undoubtedly nudged his boss in this direction when he unexpectedly claimed his own support for marriage equality two days prior.

13. HEALTHCARE FOR ALL

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, a conservative jurist, was the surprising tiebreaker vote in the contentious lawsuit over the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the signature legislation of Obama’s first term—colloquially known as Obamacare. The June ruling affirmed that requiring all Americans to have health insurance was legal, paving the way for state-run exchanges to cover millions of uninsured Americans, thereby lowering the exorbitant costs of healthcare. Some of the AFA measures, like free contraception from employer-run health plans and eliminating pre-existing conditions as a barrier to coverage, have gone into effect. The state health-insurance exchanges and remaining benefits are scheduled to be in place by 2014.

14. BLOODSHED IN BENGHAZI

On September 11, Americans marked the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, gun-wielding militants stormed the U.S. consulate and a nearby CIA compound in a coordinated assault, killing Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three additional Americans. Initially, State Department reported that the perpetrators were protestors against an anti-Muslim video making the rounds on YouTube, but later confirmed the attack was carried out by anti-American Islamic militias. The discrepancy triggered a congressional investigation, and some Republican lawmakers accused Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration of covering up facts. Clinton testified in a Congressional hearing and fired back at Republicans in the feistiest exchange of her service as Secretary.  

15. NEWS YOU CAN LOSE

In yet another sign that the digital apocalypse is upon us, long-running current events mag Newsweek shifted to an all-digital platform in December. Its final print cover—a somber black-and-white shot of the publication’s NYC headquarters, with #LASTPRINTISSUE in multipoint type—scoffed at sentimentality. While purists wrung their ink-stained hands, editor Tina Brown rolled the brand into her online Daily Beast family with iPad-friendly layouts and content designed for short attention spans. Is this the [shudder] future?

16. MARRIAGE RIGHTS EXPAND

The biggest single-day LGBT rights victory in recent memory came on November 6, when voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington agreed to legalize same-sex marriage in their states—a feat that had never been accomplished at the ballot box. In Maine, voters opted to repeal the state’s ban on same-sex marriages (and supporters celebrated with a flash mob). In Maryland and Washington, voters defeated an attempt to strike down the recently enacted state marriage equality laws. And in Minnesota, voters also decided against an amendment to the state constitution that would have limited marriage to a man and woman. Yep, it was a pretty good day.

17. SHELF LIFE

Nostalgic snack cake consumers went on a buying spree in November when Hostess, the venerable creator of Twinkies and Ding Dongs, filed for bankruptcy after a workers’ strike. Alerted to the potential shutdown of the company, stoners everywhere rushed to buy the “Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling;” some of the packages even ended up on eBay (hey, they don’t spoil). In late January, however, Hostess announced a likely buyer for its snack-cake brands and another investor in its bread lines, including Wonder Bread. Let’s see if Hostess’ reputation is as indestructible as its cupcakes.

18. A NEW POPE

Even veteran Vatican-watchers didn’t see this coming. In February, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing that he would retire in less than a month due to increasingly poor health. The 85-year-old leader of 1.18 billion Catholics around the globe didn’t elaborate on his decision. The last pope to voluntarily resign his office was Gregory XII, who retired in order to resolve the Western Schism of 1415. Following Benedict’s sudden departure, some speculated that the resignation stemmed from an effort to quell rumors of gay sex at the top levels of the church, though no proof has been found. And yet, still he wears a dress. After a surprisingly brief two-day papal conclave—really, the media hype was more impressive—the cardinals secretly cast their ballots for their colleague, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who adopted the name Francis I.

19. IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE...

Actually, it was neither. Eagle-eyed drivers in Russia captured stunning video of a massive meteor zooming to earth near Chelyabinsk in February, causing a flashing streak of vapor across the sky. The space stone—traveling at a speed of 40,000 miles per hour—burst into a fireball about 15 miles above the earth’s surface, shattering thousands of windows, raining debris over a swath of frozen steppe and injuring 1,500 people. The most amazing thing we learned from this astronomical aberration? The fact that almost every Russian car features a dashboard video camera to document fender-benders and collisions—and meteors.

20. FOUR MORE YEARS!           
           
Progressive Americans breathed an enormous sigh of relief in November when President Barack Obama was elected to a second term, handily beating his Republican challenger (Mitt something-or-other). In an election season marked by wacky Republican debates (Herman Cain, anyone?), Biden’s malarkey moment and the incendiary 47% video, this presidential contest was more lively than most, and the stakes seemed higher than ever. As Rachel Maddow summed up on MSNBC’s election night coverage, Obama’s victory meant that women, LGBT people, seniors and immigrants would have a better shot at the American dream. Now the tough work begins.

21. FUNG WAH-WAH

We always felt there was something fishy about Fung Wah Bus, the inconceivably cheap bus service between New York City’s Chinatown and that of Boston, and according to the federal government, our suspicions were right. In February the government shut down the company, citing unsafe vehicles, past accidents and poor driving records. But that didn’t stop Fung Wah from replacing its official fleet with rented buses from other companies, and passengers continued to buy up the $15 one-way fares. “People always say Fung Wah is unsafe, they’ve been saying that for a long time, but I’ve been taking it for seven years and I’m okay,” Kingsley Pan, a 20-year-old student at St. John’s University, told the BostonGlobe.com.

22. HIGH TIMES

The Dow Jones Industrial Average crushed its previous record high with a leap to 14,253.77 in March. Was it a clear sign of strengthening economic recovery? Maybe, maybe not. Reuters reported that Federal Reserve support, “fairly attractive valuations compared to other assets,” and a stronger services sector boosted the Dow up nearly 9 percent in the first three months of 2013. The Fed will eventually withdraw its flow of investment and near-zero interest rate, however, and analysts predict that market shakiness will continue. In related news, Google share price soared to a record $838.60.

23. BOSON BUDDIES

In July, physicists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva discovered a subatomic particle, the Higgs Boson or “the God particle,” using an atom-smashing machine called the Large Hadron Collider. The Higgs boson represents proof of “an invisible energy that fills the vacuum of space,” reported the Guardian, from which the universe’s mass is created (hence its divine nickname). Its detection was one of the holiest grails of modern science and paves the way for new experiments in particle physics. Said Peter Higgs, who published a paper theorizing the existence of the boson in 1964: “I never expected this to happen in my lifetime and shall be asking my family to put some champagne in the fridge.”

24. WON’T YOU BE OUR NEIGHBOR?

The horrible Westboro Baptist Church got a new neighbor this year. It seems the modest home across the street from the group’s Topeka, Kan. headquarters was up for sale, and Aaron Jackson, a 31-year-old itinerant peace activist, snapped it up. In March, a blazing rainbow paint job encased the one-story home, a 30-foot pole waving a rainbow flag was planted in front yard, and Jackson was busy establishing an LGBT center called Equality House at the site. The publicity-chasing “church” had no official comment other than a string of crazy Tweets, gloating about the extra attention the rainbow house gave them (failing to realize that not all publicity is good publicity).

25. IRAQ WAR TURNS 10

The tenth anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War arrived in March. The somber occasion prompted many media analysts and former policy hawks to question their support of the war. Conservative gay pundit Andrew Sullivan admitted, “9/11 worked. It terrorized me and it terrorized a lot of people. When you are in a state of terror, the odds of future terror seem much greater and the risks of inaction graver. Yes, I was excitable and over-reacted.” However, speaking with the BBC, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was unrepentant. “When people say to me, ‘do you regret removing [Saddam],’ my answer is ‘no—how can you regret removing somebody who was a monster, who created enormous carnage—not just amongst his own people but amongst the people of the region?’”

26. WEDDING WOES

Weddings Unveiled magazine, a bridal mag based in North Carolina, made headlines in February when it nixed an ad featuring two brides. Award-winning photographer Anne Almasy had submitted the heartwarming ad, including a photo she took of two brides smooching, without any inkling of impending controversy. The editors replied with a request for another image, because “[they] just don’t feel comfortable publishing an ad featuring a same-sex couple.”  Almasy stood her ground—and earned an apology from the editors as well as props from hundreds of supporters. We wish there were more straight allies like Anne!

27. TOTALLY CLUCKED UP

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy ruffled feathers when he told a radio interviewer that the company is “supportive of the biblical definition of family” (the family-owned business is closed on Sundays and donates thousands of dollars towards anti-gay organizations every year). Then the brouhaha really blew up: Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee declared August 1 “National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,” while gay activists and other supporters of marriage equality staged kiss-ins at Chick-fil-A franchises. Children eating at Chick-fil-A were robbed of their Muppets toys because The Henson Company pulled its sponsorship of its kid’s meals. And students at liberal colleges circulated petitions to remove Chick-fil-A restaurants from their campuses.

28. RED ROVER

Is there life on Mars? That question could soon be answered now that Curiosity, the largest and most advanced spacecraft ever sent to another planet, has been safely resting on the red planet since August. NASA put in $2.5 billion to complete the mission and plans on sending Curiosity to roam the planet for two years, taking high-resolution pictures and collecting samples from alien soil. Experts are hoping that Curiosity will pave the way for sending manned spaceflight or even colonizing Mars.

29. PLAYING NICE

July 2003 cover model Stephanie Adams—and November 1992 Playboy Playmate—won a lawsuit against the NYPD in February. Adams alleged that officers stopped a taxi in which she was a passenger, pulled her out of the backseat, and roughed her up while searching for a nonexistent firearm. She won $1.2 million in the suit, and told the New York Post she hopes to become an advocate against police brutality.

30. PERRY PROPOSES

News broke of a high profile engagement in April 2013, when Sara Gilbert, co-host and executive producer of the CBS chat show The Talk, announced that she and songwriter/producer Linda Perry were planning to tie the knot. According to ABC News, Gilbert said Perry surprised her while on a romantic picnic in a Los Angeles park. As neighboring picnickers suddenly brought out instruments and serenaded the couple, Perry pulled off a series of t-shirts with the words Will, You, Marry, Me. Perry even arranged for singer John Waite to sing his 1984 hit “Missing You” in person (we guess those music industry connections came in handy). “We had our proposal with our breakup song, which is great,” Gilbert joked.

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