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Monday, December 16, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: March

Did you know that, every year, the first day of March falls on the same day of the week as the first day of November? Me neither, but I read it on Wikipedia so it must be true!

Now that we've all learned something new for the day, let's get cracking and march into... 

New beginnings in the Catholic Church

The relationship between the LGBT+ community and religious groups continues to be complex. On the one hand, there are churches that accept us with open arms and who recognise our love and relationships as being equal to any other. But on the other, there are those who see us as souls that need saving and who seem unable to accept that not only were we born this way, but that some of us actually embrace it.

Whether we as individuals are of faith or not, most of us live in a society where what religious leaders say is influential not only on their own followers, but also on governments.

That's why the news that a new Pope was inaugurated on the 19th of March was significant to the LGBT+ community worldwide. Pope Francis became the figurehead of a church whose followers could almost populate China and of a church with a reputation for saying mostly negative things about homosexuality.

Pope Francis (

From what I've read of the Pope, he seems to believe in both compassion and tolerance. When asked about homosexuality, he said, “If a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge”. These are only a few simple words and they come with a caveat, but they quickly resonated around the world.

I've never liked the idea of people 'tolerating' other peoples' sexualities; it alludes to something negative happening in the first place. But I do think that for those whose faith has taught them that homosexuality is wrong, tolerance is the first step towards understanding. With understanding comes acceptance and once something is accepted, its value can start to become appreciated.

Whilst I'm sure I won’t agree with a lot of things Pope Francis says, one can only hope that even a slight shift in the way that religious leaders talk about LGBT+ people and relationships might signify the beginning of something better.

Frat guys help a Brother out

Coming from a small town in Scotland, my reference point on college fraternities pretty much begins and ends with a handful of American comedies. The stereotypes they perpetrate would have us believe that these groups consist of sexist, beer-swilling boys who don’t do much but else but high-five and wrestle each other all day.

That’s why I was especially happy to read about a fraternity in Boston who not only accepted a transgender pledge into their ranks, but also helped him raise funds he needed to pay for his top-surgery.

When the Brothers of Phi Alpha Tau heard that Donnie Collins’ insurance provider had rejected his claim to pay for the surgery, they decided to raise the money for him themselves through an online crowd-funding campaign. They explained why on their fundraising page

Phi Alpha Tau (

The group initially aimed to raise $2000, but their campaign grew far beyond their expectations as it reached a global audience and by the end of their crowd-funding period they had surpassed their target ten times over.  This meant that not only could Donnie afford his surgery, but the Brothers could also donate the surplus to a charity that awards grants to people who need but cannot afford similar procedures.

As fate would have it, Donnie’s insurance company reversed their decision, which meant that almost all the money raised went to the charity, helping even more people than they could have hoped.

Fraternities seem to have negative stereotypes perpetrated against them on a regular basis and, with the little knowledge I have of them, I’m not sure whether that’s merited or not. But as someone who tries to challenge and combat stereotyping of LGBT+ people when I find it, I guess I can kind of relate to the struggle they might face to restore their reputation. And that, for me, is what makes it even sweeter that such a positive story caught people's attention this year.

Parenting: You’re doing it right

Donnie’s story seems to prove the old adage that friends are the family we choose for ourselves. But this story from March shows that some of us couldn't hand-pick better families if we tried.

The story goes that the father of a teenager called Nate overheard his son talking on the phone about his plans to come out to his family. Nate’s dad’s response was to write his son a beautiful letter that told him, “The only thing I need you to plan is to bring home OJ and bread after class,” and “Your mom and I think you and Mike make a cute couple.”

Nate's dad's letter (

The letter was first posted on Facebook by pro-LGBT equality t-shirt company, FCKH8, who said that Nate had sent it to them to share and give hope to other young people in his position.

As is always the case when things go viral, there were some sceptics and critics. The lack of proof that Nate actually existed led to describe him as “Schrodinger’s Gay Son”. Although that particular article was more concerned with established media outlets publishing stories that weren't fact-checked, it made me think.

In instances such as this, which are becoming more and more common with the help of social media, how important is it that the incident actually happened? Of course it would be wonderful if it were true and Nate’s dad actually wrote him that lovely letter, but is it being factually correct as important as the hope it undoubtedly gave to the thousands of young people who really needed to see a message like that? Or would the deception outweigh the good?

I don’t know the answer, but it would be good to know what you think (and you can let us know in the comments).

Beyoncé comes out as an equal marriage ally

There’s no doubt that Queen Bey is running the world this week, but she makes the review of March for taking to Instagram to declare her support for marriage equality.


Her timing was significant as it came in a week when two major court cases involving LGBT+ rights—one related to California’s notorious Proposition 8 and the other the Defence of Marriage Act (DoMA)—were being heard in the States.

Her action was simple but effective. She shared a photo of a handwritten note that played on the lyrics of perhaps her most recognisable song, Single Ladies.

"If you like it you should be able to put a ring on it" (

The value of a global superstar such as Beyoncé being open and proud about her support for equality shouldn’t be underestimated. While some of the comments on her post were pretty grim to say the least, far more were positive and, above all, she created a fresh platform for discussion and debate.

The only thing that lets this story down for me is the fact that Beyoncé is not a Single Lady and is already happily married to some bloke named Jay-Z (who's apparently a bit of a big deal).

A girl can dream, I suppose…

That’s it for March! Check out the reviews of January and February if you haven’t already and head back tomorrow when we'll arrive at April…

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee