Last week, Doritos unveiled “Rainbows,” a line of cool-ranch-flavored, rainbow-colored chips, with proceeds benefitting Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project.
Nobody cared, at least beyond a few fringe blogs.
Nor was there a great hue and cry on Monday when the Wake County Commission approvedon its consent agenda, NBDthe addition of sexual orientation and gender identity to its employment protections, making it the eighth city or county in North Carolina to do so.
That’s how far we’ve comeand we’ve gotten there in a remarkably short time.
Think about it: At the dawn of the century, gay sex could land you in jail; in 2004, 49 percent of Americans believed it should be illegal. Homosexuality was, in many corners, thought to be a disease that needed therapy or a deviancy that could be cured with a healthy dose of Jesus (or maybe AIDS). Gay people could serve in the military, but only if they stayed in the closet, and the president of the United States made anti-gay discrimination a pillar of his reelection bid. Prominent Democrats, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, weren’t much better.
Contrast that with what’s happened in the last year: In October a federal court ordered North Carolina to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses, and the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in June. Obama, who finally got religion on marriage equality in 2012, celebrated by rainbow-lighting the White House. (Then, just last week, he nominated an openly gay man to head the U.S. Army.) Hillary Clinton, whose husband signed the Defense of Marriage Act and enacted Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, highlights same-sex couples in her campaign ads. In polls, only 28 percent and 40 percent of Americans believe that gay sex should be illegal and gay marriage should be banned, respectively. Transgender people are featured on reality shows and magazine covers.
And yes, there are now gay Doritos.
With N.C. Pride upon usshameless plug: peep our Pride Guide on page 19there’s a lot for LGBT folks to celebrate. Gay has gone mainstream, so much so that you can find think pieces wondering if gay culture is losing its distinctiveness.
There are, of course, dwindling pockets of resistance, conservatives standing athwart history and yelling stop: Kim Davis, the Kentucky court clerk who spent a week in jail rather than issue same-sex marriage licenses. Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, the Republican presidential candidates who championed her cause. The 32 North Carolina magistrates who refuse to perform same-sex ceremonies (and have the right to do so because of a “religious liberties” law the General Assembly passed earlier this year). The Tennessee judge who refused to grant a straight couple a divorce in protest of same-sex marriage. The parents who disown their gay children.
Still, the arc of history is clear. Fifty years hence, these people will be lumped in with Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms and George Wallace. And wegay and straight and bi and trans and cis alikeshould celebrate that.
With Doritos, if you like.
Reach the INDY‘s Triangulator team at email@example.com.
This article appeared in print with the headline “The year in gay”