News, studies, political and social commentary brought to you by our community writers - this is an area for education and debate.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: June

June 2013 turned out to be another month that, in terms of noteworthy LGBT+ news, was dominated by equal marriage.

In the UK, the House of Lords debated and approved the Bill; an essential step in its progress; and the matter was also high on the agenda elsewhere. But whilst some countries were progressing equality in law, others were regressing it.

That, and more, will be explored in our review of...

Putin signs LGBT+ discrimination into law

On the last day of June, Vladimir Putin signed Russia’s controversial Bill against the promotion of “non-traditional” relationships into law. Despite earlier warnings from the United Nations that such a law would contravene human rights, it was passed unanimously by the country’s upper house of Parliament a few days earlier.  

Protests against Putin's laws began to gain momentum (

The law covers so called “gay propaganda” and it’s purpose is said to be the protection of minors. Both individuals and organisations that breach the law are liable to face financial penalties or even a period of imprisonment.

The law’s passing signified the beginning of a wide range of campaigns that aimed to withdraw support for Russia, its economy and for events it was scheduled to host. Some of these campaigns will be covered in more detail as the review of the year goes on.

An historic day for equality in America

As the US Supreme Court prepared to rule on the Defence of Marriage Act (DoMA)—the law that allowed individual States to block well over 1,000 legal rights to same-sex married couples—a video created by bi-national couple went viral.

David and Jason married in New York in 2012, but because Jason is British and they are a same-sex couple, he was unable to gain a Green Card. This meant they were regularly forced to spend long periods of time apart.

Their emotional video explained what an end to DoMA would mean for them…

David and Jason, along with countless others, celebrated on June 26th when the Supreme Court voted 5-4 in favour of invalidating DoMA and no small part of the thanks for that went to a woman named Edith Windsor.

Edie Windsor sued the US Government after she was forced to pay estate tax following the death of her wife, Thea Spyer. The couple been together for over 40 years and finally married in 2007, but because the US Government did not recognise their marriage, she had to pay over $360,000 in taxes on properties they co-owned. On that matter, Edie said:

“[I]f Thea had been Theo, I would have had to pay no estate tax whatsoever. Even if I had met and married ‘Theo’ one month before he died, I would have had to pay no estate tax.”

Many heroes have and will emerge throughout the fight for marriage equality; some of them will be famous, some will go unsung; but there’s no doubt that Edie Windsor is one of them.


On the same day as the DoMA ruling, the Supreme Court also ruled on California’s Proposition 8 law. Prop 8 gained notoriety for banning same-sex marriage in California shortly after the right had been granted.

When two couples appealed against this and the State didn’t try to defend the law, those who called for the law in the first place took the case to the Supreme Court. And when it was heard, the court ruled that there was no case to answer, which paved the way for California to conduct same-sex marriages once again.

Tegan and Sara pose for NOH8, a photo campaign started in response to Prop 8 (

Thanks to these two rulings, it was a day that will be remembered in years to come as one of the most significant in the progress of equal marriage in America. Although the country still faces a massive journey before every State recognises same-sex couples as equals, that day will hopefully come quicker thanks to the events of June 26th.

Scotland says "It's Time" for equal marriage

Coincidentally, on the same day as all of that was happening in America, equal marriage was progressing closer to home (for me at least) too.

June 26th saw the Scottish Parliament introduce its Marriage and Civil Partnership Act (Scotland) Bill. Marriage is a devolved matter in Scotland, meaning that, although we are also represented by the UK Government, any laws that are passed regarding marriage in Westminster don’t apply north of the border.

One of the organisations leading the campaign for equal marriage in Scotland is the Equality Network. A few days before the Bill was published, they released a video with a whole host of Scottish faces (mine not included!) agreeing that “It’s Time” for marriage equality.

As someone who lives in a country that is currently represented by two parliaments, I’ve felt that it’s been important to raise awareness of and campaign for equality in both. When I wrote an open letter for marriage equality last year and lobbied my Westminster MP, it didn’t matter that any effect they might have wouldn’t change my rights here in Scotland. The fight for equality is a universal one and although it may start at home, it shouldn’t end there.

After all, when you don’t know what country your future husband or wife is living in, it’s important to have equal rights in them all!

YouTube shows its pride

Towards the end of June, YouTube showed it support of the LGBT community by posting a video called “Proud to Love”.  It featured some of the most watched LGBT-themed videos on the site and included clips of historic news stories, famous faces, popular “YouTubers” and everyday people too.

The video’s description explains:

At YouTube, we believe that everyone has the right to love and be loved. We strive to make YouTube a place where all communities can feel proud to express themselves and connect through video. That's why we're proud to stand with the LGBT community and support equal rights and marriage equality for all.”

Set to the soundtrack of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ “Same Love”, the video encouraged YouTube users to upload their own videos explaining who, why or what they were “proud to love”. Some of my favourite YouTubers, including Hannah Hart and Rose Ellen Dix, got involved and even The L Project’s mascot (and everyone’s favourite cartoon lesbian), Lizzy the Lezzy, got in on the act!

Rose and Hannah are just two of a whole host of LGBT+ people who have gained massive followings on their YouTube channels, not just because of their sexuality, but because they are genuinely decent and funny human beings who are easy for others to relate to.

By looking at the comments beneath their videos and their popularity on sites like Tumblr, it's clear that their presence on YouTube has helped countless young people understand their own sexuality better and has also shown their straight fans that gay people aren't really all that different.

This might seem obvious, but for a young person struggling with their sexuality in a rural town or in a country where LGBT+ people are less than accepted, the internet can become a lifeline. It might be the only place they can go where they feel comfortable being themselves and where they can connect with others who are like them too.

Rose Dix and her girlfriend/regular YouTube partner in crime, Rosie (

What I like about these YouTubers is that they aren’t people that the media have decided to tell us we should like; their videos go online and people decide for themselves. They don't have PR people telling them what wear, what to look like and what not to say. They seem to be everyday people who have become well-known thanks to the word-of-mouth of their loyal fans and a huge part of their popularity is that they are neither "perfect" (if that were to exist), nor pretending to be. They swear and they mess up and they discuss bodily functions pretty much ALL the time, and it seems like it's those things that their fans love about them most of all.

Whether you’re lesbian, gay, bi, trans*, something else entirely or you're one of our awesome straight allies, there’s bound to be a YouTuber you’ll fall in love with. If you’re willing to lose the next twelve hours of your life, there’s a whole host of LGBT ones you can check out here

I enjoy nothing more that wasting a day or two down the rabbit-hole that is YouTube, so if you've got a favourite YouTuber or video you think I should check out, send your recommendations this way! And, providing I can tear myself away long enough, I'll be back tomorrow with a review of July. If you've missed any of the 2013 review so far, you can catch up here.

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

The L Wire's Review of 2013: May

May saw Rhode Island, Delaware and Minnesota all legalise same-sex marriage, bringing the total number of States with equal marriage to 13. Whilst any progress made should undoubtedly be celebrated, nearly three-quarters of American States still have not legislated for full marriage equality. 

In today's review it seems that America wasn't the only place where equal marriage was in the news this month, so let's take a look at what else happened in...

France holds its first same-sex marriage amid protests

As the UK Parliament approved the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill without a hitch, things were passing less peacefully in France this May.

Paris may be known as The City of Love, but there were ugly scenes as equal marriage was signed into law.

The whole journey of France’s “marriage for all” law was marred by increasingly violent protests, with demonstrations organised by peaceful opponents often being overtaken by right-wing groups.

Anti equal-marriage campaigners took to the streets (

SOS Homophobie, a French non-profit organisation that aims to tackle homophobia, reported a 27% increase in calls to its helpline in the year leading up to the law passing and there were numerous individual reports of attacks on individuals and gay bars as well as malicious packages and even death threats being sent to French politicians. 

Despite these issues, France’s first same-sex ceremony was conducted on May 29th, when Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau married in Montpellier. Although protesters did try to disturb the ceremony, a large security presence ensured that things went to plan.

History is made in Montpellier (scotsman.com_

In his wedding speech, Boileau said, "After the hatred, it's time to talk of love” and, strangely, his sentiments were somewhat echoed by one of laws most outspoken opponents, comedian Frigide Barjot. She urged protestors to keep away from the wedding, saying, “You don't protest against people who love each other - otherwise this movement becomes homophobic."

I’m sure that, in time, opponents of equal marriage in France and elsewhere will come to realise quite how little the changes in law impact their lives and the society they live in. As Maurice Williamson, a New Zealand MP, said in a visit I shared in yesterday’s review:

The sun will still rise tomorrow. Your teenage daughter will still argue back with you as if she knows everything. Your mortgage will not grow. You will not have skin diseases or rashes or toads in your bed, Sir. The world will just carry on.”

Robbie Rogers returns to football

Three months after coming out and announcing his retirement from football, Robbie Rogers became the first openly gay player to sign for a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise in the United States.

Robbie Rogers unveiled as an LA Galaxy player (

In an interview with The Guardian given shortly after his initial announcement, Rogers spoke about how impossible it seemed to be an openly gay professional footballer. He also spoke of how uncomfortable some of his teammates’ casual homophobia made him:

Sometimes I would laugh because it was kinda funny. And, sometimes, it got malicious. That was when I would get this awful feeling in my stomach. I would turn my head and try to chat about other things. They often don't mean what they say. It's that pack mentality – they're trying to get a laugh, they're trying to be the top guy. But it's brutal. It's like high school again – on steroids.”

I’m sure that feeling is familiar to a lot of us; a feeling that we should try to laugh things off or change the subject or look the other way. Imagine, then, how it would feel if the pack mentality Rogers speaks of wasn’t just coming from colleagues or mates in the changing room, but in stadiums filled with tens of thousands of people ready to pick on anything they see as a weakness.

Rogers posing with his dog, Jeffrey (

So what made Rogers decide to kick-start his career again? He claimed to have had “no intention of coming back” until he attended an LGBT Youth forum organised by Nike. He said that meeting the young people there made him feel like a “coward”:

These kids are standing up for themselves and changing the world, and I'm 25, I have a platform and a voice to be a role model. How much of a coward was I to not step up to the plate?”

And what happened when Robbie Rogers ran onto the pitch as the first openly gay man for the first time? This…


Often our fear of the unknown is the hardest thing we have to overcome.

Now that Robbie Rogers has tackled his fears head on, he is a young man in the prime of his career, doing what he loves and living an authentic life and that's nothing more than his bravery deserves.

"Blue" is the winning colour at Cannes

In May, “Blue is the Warmest Colour”—a drama portraying a love story involving two women—won the Palme d'Or, the highest accolade at the Cannes Film Festival. The film is based upon a graphic novel of the same name by French author Julie Maroh and became the first film adapted from a graphic novel to win the Palme d’Or.


Whilst the film gained wide praise from critics and audiences alike, much of the publicity surrounding it focussed upon its ten-minute lesbian sex scene. Whilst many movie critics (predominantly male, presumably straight) praised the scene, it didn’t receive such a warm reaction from many lesbian and bisexual women.

On one hand it’s a sign of progress that the plot saw two women get intimate and the director’s instinct wasn’t to immediately fade to black after a look or a kiss but to actually show what happened next. On the other, that scene was created by a male director. That’s not to say that directors should only shoot things they have personally experienced—that would pretty much wipe out whole genres of film—but the main criticism from gay women was that the sex scenes depicted the male fantasy of two women in bed rather than a realistic representation.

Lea Seydoux (Emma) and Adele Exarchopoulos (Adele) (

One of the most outspoken critics of these scenes was the writer of the story itself, Julie Maroh. She said in a blog about the film:

It appears to me that this is what was missing on the set: lesbians. I don’t know the sources of information for the director and the actresses (who are all straight, unless proven otherwise)… [T]his is all that [the scene] brings to my mind: a brutal and surgical display, exuberant and cold, of so-called lesbian sex…”

This seems to be the problem with LGBT+ visibility and representation in film and TV. On the occasions we are depicted, we are either completely neutered or our experience is depicted by directors who are usually male and actors that are usually straight. But when we decide that we want and deserve something better and produce our own media, there’s a severe lack of funding and mainstream coverage.

I’m not convinced that any of that will change any time soon, but perhaps the publicity that “Blue is the Warmest Colour” received and the fact it was accepted warmly by so many out-with the LGBT+ community might open some eyes and open some doors for more LGBT-centric films to reach a more mainstream audience.

Have you seen "Blue is the Warmest Colour" yet? If so, what did you think?

Well I'm away for some mulled wine and a mince pie (ice-topped of course), but I'll be back again tomorrow to have a look at what happened in LGBT+ news in June.

If you're looking for something to do to pass a long Winter's evening, why not have a look back at the reviews of the year so far here...

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