Hello from the UK, one of the world’s leading countries for LGBTQ rights and equality. Here in London, there’s a rainbow flag around every corner and a feeling of inclusion everywhere you go.
The UK decriminalized sexual activity between men in 1967. Many protections for LGBTQ Britons date back to the 1990s. The Equality Act of 2010 is one of the strongest pieces of anti-discrimination legislation you’ll find anywhere on the globe: It protects people from discrimination or harassment in pretty much all aspects of public life based on age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage (and civil partnership), pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
In comparison, the national anti-discrimination law in the US is limited to employment and only considers race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.
My fellow Americans, we have a long way to go.
One of the happiest moments in my life was in 2015, when I took the Complimentary Spouse to my old school in England and we discovered signs like this in the halls:
Today, in central London, even the crosswalk signals are LGBTQ friendly. Check out these two photos from the area around Trafalgar Square:
Feeling left out, straight people? Don’t worry, there are crosswalk signals for you too. We just didn’t feel inclined to take any photos of them.
Let’s hear from some British LGBTQ people and allies:
“My LGBT hero is anyone that is brave enough to be who they are, and embrace it, and be proud of it — because it’s people like that that are able to encourage other people to do the same.”
Tom Daley, well known knitter who also likes to swim from time to time
“I’ve never met a gay person who regrets coming out. You’re more at ease with your loved ones, your family and extended family, and your friends, and your employers, your employees. Everybody’s happy, because they know where they are. It’s out in the open — and honesty’s the best policy.”
Sir Ian McKellen, noted Balrog survivor
“I would say to any young person … who’s being bullied for their sexuality: Don’t put up with it — speak to a trusted adult, a friend, a teacher, Childline, Diana Award or some other service and get the help you need. You should be proud of the person you are and you have nothing to be ashamed of.”
Prince William, do you seriously not know this person is?
Six years ago today, a terrorist entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando and opened fire, murdering 49 people and wounding 53 more. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11.
The Pulse building is still there at 1912 S. Orange Ave. It has turned into a makeshift shrine. There are plans to build a permanent memorial.
I wish I could think of something poignant or uplifting to write, but I can’t. Pulse reminds us that hate against LGBTQ people is real and visceral, and that we’re never really safe — even in the spaces we create for ourselves.
What’s big and gay and fun to lick? Get your mind out of the gutter! It’s Big Gay Ice Cream, the only place I know of that has frozen treats named after Golden Girls characters. (The Dorothy is vanilla soft serve topped with crushed Nilla wafers.)
Big Gay Ice Cream started in a food truck in New York City. It became so popular that founders Douglas Quint and Bryan Petroff opened a store in the West Village. You can now find several locations in New York and Philadelphia. You’ll also find BGIC on teevee (it has been featured on quite a few programs) and in bookstores (the cookbook is subtitled “Saucy Stories & Frozen Treats: Going All the Way with Ice Cream: A Cookbook, and, of course, the Complimentary Spouse and I have a copy.)
While the Dorothy is good, my fave is the Rocky Roadhouse: vanilla soft serve smothered with chocolate, almonds, and marshmallows. That’s what the handsome chubby guy in the top photo is eating. Britt likes the Monday Sundae because it contains both Nutella and dulce de leche.
Hey, did you know that Judy Garland was indirectly responsible for a multi-year taxpayer-funded anti-gay witch-hunt? Not only is this story true — it’s also hilarious!
Back when it was dangerous to come out of the closet, introducing yourself as a “friend of Dorothy” was a surreptitious way of letting other people you know you were gay.
Dorothy, of course, was a reference to Dorothy Gale, the character Judy Garland played in the Wizard of Oz.
Other LGBTQ people knew exactly what the reference meant; straight people had no idea.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Naval Investigative Service connected some of the dots — that “friends of Dorothy” were gay men — but not all the dots. They were clueless about the Wizard of Oz connection. They believed there was a real woman named Dorothy running a cabal of gay military personnel.
Needless to say, the investigation went nowhere and was eventually called off. The whole thing got swept under the rug till Randy Shilts wrote about it in “Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military.”
Dorothy is presumably still at large, and the cabal was able to complete its secret mission: weaponizing brunch.
You can expect fair and balanced coverage of LGBTQ issues in The New York Times today, but that wasn’t always the case. The paper wouldn’t even print the the word “gay” till 1987 — its style was to use “homosexual,” and you all know how I feel about that.
The prohibition against the word “gay” ended when Executive Editor Abe Rosenthal resigned. He was a homophobe who stifled LGBTQ people in the newsroom and LGBTQ coverage in the paper.
Abe Rosenthal’s homophobia was felt at the Times in two ways: It ensured that lesbian and gay reporters stayed firmly in the closet, and that the word “gay” was not used in the paper to describe gay people.
As the AIDS epidemic began to emerge, the silence of the media in general, and of The New York Times in particular, contributed to the magnitude of the unfolding tragedy. Although the death toll mounted in the early 1980s, the Times maintained a disdainful distance. As gay journalist Michelangelo Signorile put it, “Rosenthal, who attacks anti-Semitism in the media, never realized that the way he was treating the AIDS epidemic wasn’t much different from the way that news organizations treated the Holocaust early on.”
The singular they — that is, using the pronoun “they” as a non-gendered alternative for “he” or “she” — isn’t a new invention. In fact, it first emerged in English in the Fourteenth Century, according to the Oxford English Dictionary.
Next time you hear someone raising a fuss about the singular they — “it sounds weird” is the complaint I hear frequently — point out that the usage predates the printing press, the newspaper, and even Shakespeare.
Bonus fact: “You” used to be a plural pronoun. The singular pronoun was “thee” or “thou,” words that disappeared ages ago from English. Just more proof that language is a living thing that grows and adapts just as society does.
If it weren’t for Lynn Conway, the Daily Dave wouldn’t be online. It would be handwritten. Or mimeographed. Or carved on a stone tablet.
Conway, a trans woman, changed the way computers ran programs, and later revolutionized the way we create and produce microchips. It’s not hyperbole to say that without Conway, the most technologically advanced thing in your house would be a three-way light bulb.
IBM fired Conway in 1968 when she announced her plans to transition. She didn’t disclose her trans status till 1999.
“From the 1970s to 1999 I was recognized as breaking the gender barrier in the computer science field as a woman, but in 2000 it became the transgender barrier I was breaking,” she told Forbes. She’s now as well known for her trans activism as she is for her contributions to the field of technology.
IBM has been touting itself as an LGBTQ-friendly company for many years — it added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy in 1984 — but only apologized to Conway in 2020.
Depending on who you ask, the first Pride night at an MLB stadium was held in 1994, 2000, or 2001.
In 1994, the San Francisco Giants held an “Until There’s a Cure Night” to bring awareness to the AIDS crisis. It was the first event of its kind hosted by a Major League Baseball team, but it wasn’t really a Pride night as we would know it today. There were plenty of red ribbons, but the team didn’t use the word “gay” to describe the event.
In 2000, the Los Angeles Dodgers booted two lesbians from their stadium because they were kissing. The horror! Because of the backlash, there was a Gay and Lesbian Night at Dodger Stadium — but it was not really a Dodgers event. It was hosted by GLAAD using tickets the Dodgers donated. Even if it wasn’t a team-sponsored event, let’s all acknowledge it was a pretty fucking huge deal and baseball’s first real move to recognize its most fabulous fan base.
The first real Pride night at a ballpark — by real, I mean that it was actually hosted by the team and marketed as such — came in 2001 when the Chicago Cubs held its “Out at Wrigley” night. The Giants joined in with its own Pride night the following year. Since then, more teams have been celebrating their LGBTQ fans with a special event each year. And other leagues are joining in: You’ll find a lot of Pride nights in the NHL and NBA. (The Complimentary Spouse and I go to the Lightning’s Pride night every year.)
The NFL was very late to the party; the Washington Commanders (let’s not use their old name) hosted the first Pride night in professional football in 2021. Will other football teams join in? I hope so but I’m not holding my breath. After all, this is the league that freaked out over Colin Kaepernick. I don’t expect them to lead when it comes to social issues.
Pride nights are a pretty timely thing to write about today because Britt and I just returned from Pride night (actually, it was a day game) at Tropicana Field.
The Tampa Bay Rays held its first Pride night in 2016. It was a few days after the horrific Pulse massacre, and people were still shocked and looking for ways to show their support for the LGBTQ community. So many people wanted to participate in Pride night that the Rays had to open the upper deck and the game was a complete sell-out. You’ll still see people walking around the Tampa Bay area wearing rainbow-colored “We Are Orlando” T-shirts with the Rays logo — the giveaway that night.
I took the photo at the top of this post at today’s game. And, just for the hell of it, here are some more great pictures of Britt and me at previous Pride nights.