GOMAG.COM
5 and Thriving: Our fifth year in review
by REBECCA KRITZER; Photo Editor: RACHAEL SOLOMON
July 10, 2008
Rosie came back into view, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" took center stage, Barack and Hillary stepped up to the  presidential plate. NYC lost the Roxy and CBGBs, Britney lost her long locks, our community lost a dear activist, Barbara Gittings. And Ellen became the most visible, successful lesbian in the universe. A look back at the events that shaped GO's world in the past year.

THE YEAR OF THE ELLEN
It seems the public embraces the real Ellen DeGeneres more than her on-screen gay character on Ellen in the mid ‘90s. Since the show’s cancellation, and her subsequent idle career years, the comedian has sprung back into the world of celebrity at the top of the ranks—literally. At 49, Ellen has made Forbes magazine’s 2007 list of The Richest 20 Women in Entertainment. Number 17 to be exact, sandwiched between Gisele Bündchen and Nicole Kidman (and that’s a nice place to be).

With the success of her talk show, The Ellen Degeneres Show, which is in its fourth season and has nabbed 15 Emmys, Ellen’s resilience earned her the People’s Choice Award this year for Favorite Talk Show Host. In an interview with W magazine in February, Ellen said, “I want the show to reach people and to be something positive. Because the world is full of a lot of fear and a lot of negativity, and a lot of judgment. I just think people need to start shifting into joy and happiness.”

That uplifting spirit and positive energy may have been what finally earned her the gig of her dreams: hosting the 79th Annual Academy Awards. Though it would be tough to follow the acts of Billy Crystal (eight-time host), Ellen’s clean, wide-appealing humor was just what the Oscars needed. It’s what we all need. And that’s why we love her. It certainly has been Ellen’s year.

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BRING BACK THE NOISE, BRING BACK THE FUNK
CBGB,  the NYC rock club that launched a thousand careers, closed its doors after 33 years of rocking and rolling. Legendary singer-songwriter Patti Smith headlined the farwell performance. (Oct 2006)

POOF! BE GONE
Italy set minimum weight requirements for fashion models, eliminating from the runway those who are too skinny and setting off a surge of debate. Score one for the real women who have curves. (Dec 2006)

DO ASK, DO TELL
In a December 2006 poll of 545 U.S. troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 73% said they are personally comfortable in the presence of gays and lesbians. This trumps the "don't ask, don't tell" military policy that assumes known homosexuality would be a disturbance to duty.  A March 15 demonstration in New York (pictured), condemned homophobic remarks made by General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff, and his support of the military’s policy on homosexuals.

HISTORY IN THE MAKING?
Two Democratic politicians, Barack Obama and Hilary Rodham Clinton, broke new ground as minortiy leaders when they placed their bids for the 2008 presidential election. Now that our dreams have come true, will either be nominated for the candidate position? (Jan 2007)

BIBLE BABBLE
Former American Idol finalist and break-out Dreamgirls actress Jennifer Hudson created controversy when the Dallas Voice ran a cover story in December declaring she, a Chrisitian, thought being gay was a sin. Hudson later cleared the air, affirming that she was not homophobic and that many of her close friends, including her sister, are gay. Similarly, Carol Channing, the legendary entertainer known for her loyal gay following, surprisingly referenced the Bible to express her view on gays in an interview for the Gay People's Chronicle in November.

THERE’S NOTHING TEXTBOOK ABOUT IT
Scotland issued official guidelines to include the topic of homosexuality in the country's sex-education programs in schools. (Jul 2006)

A REASON FOR THE ABNORMAL SEASON
Once thought of as overdramatized hype, global warming showed its effects with abnormally warm temperatures this winter. This seemed to push the cold weather into spring. To draw attention to this issue, concerned Americans participated in nationwide rallies  on April 14 (pictured). Will this be the one cause that finally greens every other color of the political spectrum?

HEY, YOU’RE IN MY SEAT
In a game of network musical chairs, Meredith Viera took Katie Couric's spot on NBC's Today, while Couric got her own primetime news slot on CBS. Meanwhile, Rosie O'Donnell took Viera's spot on ABC's The View, creating a new dynamic among the women on the show. (Sep 2006) UPDATE: See "Out There" for the latest on Rosie's recently announced departure from The View. (Apr 2007)

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FOUND IN TRANSLATION
Across the globe, legislation for the rights of same-sex couples has been gaining momentum. In South Africa, the highest court legalized same-sex unions in November, making it the first African nation to do so.  That same month, in a ruling that infuriated the ultra-Orthodox community there, Israel's supreme court ordered the government to recognize same-sex marriages performed abroad. In January, a lesbian couple registered as Mexico's first same-sex union in the state of Coahuila, the first of 31 states in Mexico to legally recognize such unions. A month later, two Roman Catholic countries made surprising advances: Colombia's Constitutional Court granted gay couples living together for more than two years the same inheritance guarantees as heterosexuals in common law marriages. Similarly, Italy's cabinet approved rights for unwed couples, including gay ones, in which they would be guaranteed inheriting property and receiving a deceased partner's pension. This bill is still waiting approval from Italy's parliament. Eastern Europe didn't fare as well, when Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov barred the city's "satanic" Pride parade in May, for what he claims were security reasons. His police force then failed to protect the LGBT people who participated despite the ban and were attacked by onlookers. In July, city authorities in Riga, Latvia, denied LGBT organizations' request for a permit for a Pride festival march. Pictured: a gay rights demonstration in Rome.

BYE-BYE MUSIC, BYE-BYE
After 46 glorious years and two bankruptcy scares, the renowned Tower Records chain closed for good, giving mega-giant Virgin Megastore the retail music monopoly. (Dec 2006)

TRAGEDY STRIKES VIRGINIA
Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. was the site of the deadliest mass shooting in America as a student went on a rampage, killing 33 including himself. The massacre highlighted the increasing use of technology as students used cell phones and social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook to communicate their conditions, check on friends, record the scene and create virtual memorials. (Apr 2007)

WE DON'T, THEY DON'T
Brad Pitt told Esquire magazine the he and Angelina Jolie will not get married until it is legal for all couples. They, along with fellow powercouple Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, welcomed the birth of their daughters this year. The real celebrities turned out to be the newborns, evidenced by the media blitz to publish the first photos of them. (Oct 2006)

DRAMA AFTER DEATH
Anna Nicole Smith died in a Hollywood, Florida hotel room from a reported unintentional drug overdose. She was buried in the Bahamas next to her son, Daniel, after the location became a court battle between her mother, her most recent companion, Howard K. Stern, and her former boyfriend, Larry Burkhead. The latter two were involved in their own battle over paternity of Anna's daughter, Dannielynn, when a DNA test finally determined that Burkhead is the father. (Feb 2007)

THE STARS ARE OUT TONIGHT
Personalities who came out this year: Lance Bass, former *NSYNC-member (Jul 2006); T.R. Knight, actor on Grey's Anatomy (Jan 2007); Neil Patrick Harris, former child star on Doogie Howser, M.D. (Nov 2006); R.J. Helton, former American Idol finalist (Oct 2006); Suze Orman, personal finance expert of celebrity status (Feb 2007); Miss Cleo, infomercial psychic of the '90s. (Oct 2006)

A FOND FAREWELL TO THE GODFATHER OF SOUL 
“The hardest working man in show business,” soul legend James Brown, passed away on Christmas after suffering complications from pneumonia. A horse-drawn carriage pulled his gold casket through the streets of New York as thousands of people gathered at Harlem’s Apollo Theater for a touching public memorial service (pictured). This pioneer's influence on modern-day musical heroes like Michael Jackson and Prince, and on genres like hip-hop and pop, has literally defined 20th-century music. (Dec 2006)

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GET IT TOGETHER, AMERICA
The past year has been a mixed bag of strides and set-backs for gay marriage in the U.S. In June, Alabama passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage in heterosexual terms, and in the next month, both New York and Washington upheld their existing "traditional" marriage laws as constitutional. November held more disappointment when South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Wisconsin, Tennessee, Colorado, and Idaho all passed the constitutional amendment known as DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) which defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. But New Jersey provided a breath of fresh air in December when the state legislature passed a statute establishing civil unions for same-sex couples, which took effect in February. And just when moving to Massachusetts seemed like a good idea, legislators passed a bill in January allowing a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage to move forward (pictured: peaceful protesters at the State House in Boston).

BASKETBALL TEAM CALLS FOUL 
The NCAA’s second-ranked Rutgers women’s basketball team made us proud when they faced off against “shock jock” Don Imus for racist and sexist comments he made on air. The women met with him and expressed, “great hurt, anger and disgust.” Imus’ show was soon canceled. (Apr 2007)

VIPs IN THE HOUSE
To welcome another fabulous season of Showtime's unprecedentedly popular lesbian drama with a bang, GO and the Human Rights Campaign partnered to bring New Yorkers The L Word Season 4 premiere party at Copacabana. Thousands of women braved the cold so they could hobnob with cast-members for the screening, dancing and live performances. Pictured: Ilene Chaiken, Jennifer Beals and Marlee Matlin. (Jan 2007)

DASHING GROOMS
Actor Alan Cumming married his boyfriend, Grant Shaffer, in Greenwich, London at the Old Royal Naval College. (Jan 2007)

MISS-BEHAVING
Miss USA, Tara Conner, almost lost her crown on allegations of underage drinking and abusing her title (inebriated Sapphic debauchery included). Donald Trump's public pardoning of the beauty queen set off a long-winded name-calling match with Rosie O'Donnell, who criticized Trump for his hypocrisy. (Dec 2006)

JUST KIDDING
New York City's Board of Health proposed a plan to allow people to change the sex on their birth certificates without sex-change surgery. It was an effort to allow people to define their own genders, but the proposal was later withdrawn, citing concerns over prison assignments (among other things), which are based on someone's sex. (Dec 2006)

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BOOB TUBE UPDATE
Which hit network TV shows are representing gay characters? ABC primetime is chock full o' gays: the dysfunctional family on Brothers & Sisters features gay brother Kevin (and his love interests); Golden Globe-winning Ugly Betty features Betty's assumedly gay but not "out" nephew, the very out assistant she works with, and a male-to-female transsexual played by Rebecca Romijn; Bree's son on Desperate Housewives is gay; and Joe, the gay bartender on Grey's Anatomy, was featured in an episode with his partner. Classmate Kyle on CBS's The Class is a gay character, as well as Oscar, the accountant on NBC's The Office, and lesbian chief of staff Kerry Weaver on ER. Two former primetime "friends"  shared a kiss when Jennifer Aniston made a guest appearance as a lesbian on Courtney Cox's show Dirt on FX. Let's not forget our soaps: Lily and Holden's son, Luke, is gay on CBS's As The World Turns; Passions on NBC features daytime's first African-American lesbian; and on ABC's All My Children, Zoe, a transgender woman fell for Bianca, Erica Kane's lesbian daughter (pictured).

INCONVENIENT TRUTHS 
When a heat wave gripped New York City in mid-July and caused electricity usage to peak, it resulted in manhole explosions, overhead wire fires and electrical outages in parts of northwest Queens that menaced tens of thousands of residents for nearly nine days. An estimated 100,000 people were left without refrigeration, air-conditioning and elevators on the hottest days of the year. Pictured, Con Ed workers distributed bags of ice to residents. (July 2006)

EVERYTHING CHANGES FROM DAY ONE
In January 2007, New York swore in a governor who is outspokenly in favor of marriage equality, Eliot Spitzer. By April, he had already introduced same-sex marriage legislation. 

THE FALL OF THE BLONDES
This was a bad year to be a blonde. Britney Spears created tabloid buzz after suddenly shaving off her hair and repeatedly checking herself in and out of rehab. In December, 20-year-old Mean Girls star sometimes-golden-locked Lindsay Lohan confirmed that she had been attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and then entered rehab a month later. The list of disappointments for blonde bombshell Jessica Simpson is long, including the end of her marriage, low enthusiasm for her album A Public Affair—which debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 and quickly dropped away after selling less than half the copies of her first album—and her movie Employee of the Month barely broke even. Yikes!

THERAPY IS NOT THE ANSWER
Ted Haggard, former pastor of New Life megachurch in Colorado Springs and leader of the National Association of Evangelicals, was dismissed from his position after denying, then admitting to, buying drugs from a male escort.The escort, who also claimed they had a sexual relationship, went public with the news because he opposed Haggard's hypocrisy of publicly condemning homosexuals but privately engaging in such activity. After three weeks of counseling, Haggard declared he is now "completely heterosexual." (Nov 2006)

CRIKEY!
Beloved Aussie Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin died unexpectedly at 44 when a stingray pierced his heart during filming. He is survived by his wife, Terri, and two children, Bindi Sue and Robert Clarence. (Sep 2006)

TOUGH PLAY
Former NBA star, Tim Hardaway, made his homophobia public in a radio interview on The Dan LeBatard Show, removing him from several scheduled appearances representing the NBA. "I let it be known, I don't like gay people...It shouldn't be in the world or in the United States." Hardaway's comments came a week after retired center John Amaechi (pictured) became the first active or former NBA player to publicly acknowledge he was gay. (Feb 2007)

OH NO, WHERE DID PLUTO GO?
Pluto is pulled out of the list of the well-known nine planets orbiting the sun, reclassifying it as a dwarf planet and leaving many to grapple with the idea of only eight planets. My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine…? The new generation will never know.

GAYBY FOR CHENEY
Mary Cheney (right), lesbian daughter of vice president Dick Cheney, revealed that she is preganant. She and her partner, Heather Poe (left), are expecting the baby in late spring. (Dec 2006)

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WHO COULD BE MEAN TO THIS FACE?
Actor Isaiah Washington made an anti-gay slur about Grey's Anatomy castmate T.R. Knight (pictured), prompting him to come out publicly as gay. To dig his grave even deeper, Washington used the slur ("faggot") again in the Golden Globe press room to deny he had ever used the word. He has since apologized for his remarks and has met with gay and lesbian organization leaders. (Jan 2007)

THE HITS JUST KEEP ON COMING
New York nightlife took another round of beatings over the past several months. On Halloween, Avalon was shut down after midnight because its license allowing people to dance had lapsed. Police shut down West Side nightclubs Crobar and Sol in early January citing several instances of
violence, drug arrests, and State Liquor Authority violations for serving minors; Crobar officially closed its door the following month. The decline of the city’s nightlife shows little sign of letting up, as March 10th marked the last party for Chelsea’s legendary skating rink/gay dance club Roxy after a long run dating back to the early ‘90s.

NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF NOW
The Dixie Chicks trio won five Grammy awards for their 2006 album Taking the Long Way, despite their four-year whirlwhind of controversy after lead singer, Natalie Maines, said to a London audience they were ashamed the U.S. president was from Texas. (Feb 2007)

LIKE WINE, WE GET BETTER WITH AGE
GO's Fourth Anniversary party at Crobar in NYC was a celeb-studded bash. Among our 1,500 guests were fitness empress and event host Jackie Warner, the hysterical Rebecca Drysdale, and top model Kim Stolz. If you missed it, you can redeem yourself when we celebrate our fifth. (Oct 2006)

A GAY IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING
Dr. Charles Roselli, a researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University, was critcized after the media publicized his interest in studying what made some sheep gay. Animal rights activists incorrectly asserted that he was trying to "cure" their homosexual tendencies. (Oct 2006)

LOGO IS A GO
Free gay TV for everyone! In June of this year, Logo will reach its two-year mark in existence. But this lesbian and gay television network has even more to be proud of: the number of people tuning in has almost doubled since its inception, currently reaching 26 million households nationwide. It has also expanded its accessibility, partnering with iTunes, Sprint and Verizon to put Logo on the map.

CONTINUED STRUGGLES IN IRAQ
Violence continued throughout Iraq. December brought Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation and the hanging of Saddam Hussein. By January, all eyes shifted towards Iran’s increased involvement in Iraq; meanwhile President Bush proposed to increase the number of troops stationed there. In April, American forces began construction on a three-mile concrete wall, separating the Sunni district of Adhamiyah from the rest of Baghdad.

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WE OWE IT TO BARBARA
Barbara Gittings, a long-time LGBT rights activist, died at 75 from breast cancer. Among her many accomplishments, she led the campaign to convince the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from its list of mental disorders in 1973. (Feb 2007)

WE’VE GOT STYLE, YES WE DO, WE’VE GOT STYLE, HOW ‘BOUT  YOU?
If you read The New York Times, then you saw GO mentioned in their Sunday Style section article about the incredible Dinah Shore week in Palm Springs. Oh yeah, we were definitely there. (Apr 2007)

A SHIFT ON CAPITOL HILL
Democrats took control of both houses of Congress in November’s elections, a victory that spoke volumes of the nation's sentiment towards the Iraq war and the Bush administration. To make matters more exciting for Democrats, Congresswomen Nancy Pelosi, who represents gay San Francisco, became the first female Speaker of the House.

A PRESIDENT REMEMBERED
Former president Gerald R. Ford died at the age of 93 the day after Christmas. His flag-draped casket ceremoniously journeyed from Washington, D.C. to his hometown in Michigan, where he was buried. (Dec 2006)

CYCLONE LEFT STANDING IN ASTROLAND
Coney Island’s historic Astroland opened for its last season. Developer Joe Sitt plans to knock it down, leaving the Cyclone roller coaster, to create a complex including a new roller coaster, carousel, a hotel and condos. Critics worry that Coney’s vintage Americana identity will be destroyed to homogenization. (April 2007)

WE ARE PROUD TO PRESENT...
GO honored those who make your one-night stands possible at our Reader's Choice Nightlife Awards at B Bar in NYC. Comedian Julie Goldman hosted the bash that made clear who was the best of the best in nightlife this year. Big winners included Cattyshack, Henrietta Hudson and Lovergirl, plus local celebs God-des & She, Kiki & Herb and Mr. Murray Hill. (Apr 2007)

THERE IS SO MUCH AMERICA CAN TEACH YOU
 The blockbuster, Borat, caused controversy upon its release. Starring Sacha Baron Cohen, the social commentary parodies ethnic and class sterotypes in American culture. Besides garnering enormous poularity and critical acclaim, the film brought into the spotlight lesser known pockets of racial, sexual and religious bigotry in America. (Nov 2006)

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