Presenting my 10th annual column of the year’s heroes and zeroes.
Hero The residents of glittering São Paulo, for embracing their city’s ninth annual Pride parade, which in June drew two million people, the largest Pride parade in the world.
Zero Brazil’s Globo TV network for cutting a male-male kiss from its America soap opera on Nov. 4, drawing the ire of a huge Brazilian TV audience that was larger than the one that tuned in to the last World Cup soccer final.
Heroes The 500 marchers who withstood huge booing crowds of anti-gay protesters in Bucharest’s first-ever Pride parade, and the 100 police-protected marchers in Latvia’s first-ever Pride parade in the capital city of Riga.
Zero Iran, for executing gays and lesbians.
Zero CNN anchor Anderson Cooper for refusing to publicly come out. Will he continue to evade the subject in his upcoming $1-million memoir for HarperCollins?
Zero Lesbo Mary Cheney, who chaired her father’s (U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney) anti-gay re-election campaign, who also signed a book deal for her memoirs. Don’t expect a mea culpa.
Hero Maya Marcel-Keyes, the daughter of ultra-right Republican Alan Keyes, for defying her father and coming out as a proud dyke.
Heroes Also for coming out: actor George Takei, 68, who played Mr. Sulu in Star Trek; singer Lesley Gore, 59, who took her It’s My Party straight to number one in 1963; and WNBA superstar Sheryl Swoopes. As for a gay male athlete coming out, Swoopes says, "I don’t see that happening any time soon. But you know what? I didn’t really see this happening either."
Zeroes Both the Navajo Nation and the Cherokee National Tribal Council for outlawing same-sex marriage.
Zeroes The United Arab Emirates, for arresting gay men and forcing them to undergo hormone injections.
Hero South Africa, whose highest court ruled Dec. 1 that same-sex marriage must become the law of the land by Dec. 1, 2006. That would make South Africa just the fifth nation in the world to legalize gay marriage, after the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Canada.
Zero The world’s number four-ranked tennis player Lleyton Hewitt, for screaming at an umpire and calling him a "poof" at a Davis Cup match in Sydney in July.
Hero Melissa Etheridge, for her triumphant return from breast cancer performing Piece of My Heart at the Grammys, bald head and all. All royalties from her new single I Run for Life will benefit breast cancer charities.
Zero DC Comics for forcing a NYC gallery to close down a gay Batman & Robin exhibit in February.
Zero Ford Motor Co. for reportedly pulling all future ads in gay publications to counter a boycott by the anti-gay American Family Association. Have you driven a Ford lately? I won’t.
Zero Damian Marley, who told The Evening Standard, "Me have more problem with lesbians [than gay men] because there’s less girls for us."
Zeroes The Washington Blade – America’s once-proud gay newspaper of record – for publishing the awful columns of anti-gay faggot Jeff Gannon, as well as the Blade editor Chris Crain for unfairly trashing Montreal’s 2006 OutGames.
Hero San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom for coming out in support of Montreal’s 2006 OutGames.
Zero Parti Québécois leader André Boisclair. Need I say more?
Zeroes The Ku Klux Klan, for protesting gay marriage in the heart of George Dubya country at a Texas rally at Austin City Hall on Nov. 12.
Heroes Queers who passed away in 2005: American gay rights pioneer and a friend of this column, Jack Nichols; Canadian gay rights pioneer George Hislop; Graham Payn, the partner of the late Noel Coward; and Jeanette Schmid, Austria’s last professional whistler. Schmid, born as a man in what is now the Czech Republic, underwent a sex change in Cairo in 1964.
Hero Elton John, who gave $50,000 to Nepal’s only gay rights group, the Blue Diamond Society, following the September arrests and torture of transgendered people in Nepal.
Hero Hip-hop superstar Kanye West, who said in September, "I’m still trying to get over my own homophobia. I still wouldn’t feel comfortable at a gay bar. I wouldn’t go to a gay parade. I don’t know if I’m in favour of gay marriage or not… People said to me, ‘Were you scared of speaking out against George Bush [after Katrina]?’ No. The bravest thing I did this year was speaking out against homophobia. That’s a scarier topic, because if you bring it up, people think you must be gay. But you don’t have to be gay to not gay-bash. We’re a very close-minded people."