The beginning years of this decade were like being in an eight-year abusive relationship. George Bush was on crack. It was Iraq. He and his thug pals terrorized the neighborhood, especially the gay kids. He ran up the credit card bills. He left the place in shambles. He was always at the gym. And all our friends would pull us aside and whisper, "Why do you stay with him?"
In the ought years of this decade the Twin towers fell. We invaded Afghanistan. Then for reasons that should have been worked out in therapy, Bush/Cheney attacked Iraq. The Constitution was shredded. Homophobia was legislated. An American city drowned. What was too big to fail was also apparently too big to regulate and the greedy banksters cratered.
In 2008, we thought we ought to try something different. With great hope and promise for change, we helped elect President Barack Obama. For a thin man, he's got a lot on his plate: the great recession, the environment, healthcare and two wars. Gay issues are those lima beans over there by that old, disgusting crumby pat of butter. No wait, that's Joe Lieberman.
In the waning Obama oughts, we LGBTs have experienced heartbreaking marriage equality setbacks, the shuttering of our bookstores, and the collapse of publishing. Many LGBTs suspect deliberate dithering on DOMA, ENDA and DADT. They demand the shut down of the GayTMs.
Of course I am disappointed in my President. Mind you, it is a lovely change from my despair during eight years of Bush. Yet somehow during those Bush zero years of federally sanctioned homophobia we made progress: protection from discrimination and hate violence, recognition of LGBT families, safer and more accepting school climates for LGBT youth, relief from HIV and AIDS, more LGBTs in public service and broader acceptance of LGBT people. (To see the numbers: "A Decade of Progress on LGBT Rights").
As we begin this new decade, despite enormous financial challenges, LGBT organizations and individuals are working for full equality - some incrementally, some flashy and splashy, all exponentially. Just one year into the Obama administration we have seen LGBT inclusion in the census, the lifting of the HIV immigration ban, and the signing of the Hate Crimes Bill. Some amazing individual stories have emerged: Rachel Maddow's relentless coverage of anti-gay laws in Uganda; the election of Houston's Mayor Annise Parker; Arkansas' ten year old Phil Miller who refuses to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance until there is liberty and justice for all.
I am optimistic about what we can accomplish under President Obama.
The only way to shake off Post-Bush Traumatic Stress Syndrome and its resultant infantilization, is to reclaim our agency as full participants in this historical moment. At the beginning of this New Year and new decade, I resolve to fight my own paralyzing personal pessimism about making real change in an impersonal corporate world. The way I have chosen to do that is to continue to work for the full liberation of LGBT people. And go figure, I've decided to do it through humor. Each according to her personal skill set. It is not because I ought to do it, I want to do it. I want to win. I hope you do too.
Happy New Year and New Decade!