I'm a pushover for a good Game Night. Cards Against Humanity, Mad Gab, Clue, Scrabble… give me a couple of good friends and more good beverages and I’m set. But one game rules above all in my book: Trivial Pursuit. It’s the game that rewards esoteric knowledge with little plastic pieces of pie to represent each nugget of information you can provide correctly, where only a know-it-all can win-it-all. It’s the game I was born to play.
With hundreds of editions available, anyone can find a version that fits their field of knowledge: Regular Trivial Pursuit, Pop Culture, The Simpsons… there’s even a Power Rangers 20th Anniversary Edition.
This past year saw a host of LGBT news stories in every Trivial Pursuit category: geography, entertainment, history, sports and science. But these pursuits are anything but trivial, so let’s cram for Monumental Pursuit: 2014 LGBT Edition. Let’s fill our empty pie markers with multicolor plastic wedges until they look like our very own pride flags!
First roll… Blue… Geography:
Though it’s felt like doing the Hokey Pokey (one state’s in, one state’s out, one state’s back in, and the legal status of married couples is shaken all about), the United States saw thirteen state-sponsored bans on same-sex marriage overturned in 2014. Thirty-five states (as of this writing) now have marriage equality; even states I never thought would join the list like Indiana (woohoo!), Arkansas and South Carolina. The rest will fall like dominoes… but that’s a different game entirely, so I digress.
Massachusetts elected the nation’s first openly gay state attorney general, Maura Healey, in November. Texan anti-gay crusader Jonathan Saenz got a double-dose of bad news back in 2011, but it didn’t come to light until this past August. Court documents uncovered by internet news sources found that not only had his wife of nearly 10 years filed for divorce in 2011, she left him for another woman.
Internationally, Edgars Rinkevics became the first openly gay foreign minster of Latvia while countries like Scotland, Finland and Luxembourg passed bills to allow same-sex couples to marry.
Roll again! For your yellow piece… History:
The Pope himself raised eyebrows and the collective blood pressure of conservative Cardinals and other church leaders by softening his stance on homosexuality. “If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them” he opined. This off-the-cuff remark doesn’t signal any actual change in the church’s stance or teachings, but a softening of rhetoric may help those who use religion as a weapon realize that gays are people too.
In October, Apple CEO Tim Cook saw his chance to help move civil rights forward across the world by officially confirming his sexuality. His move highlighted the fact that thousands of gay and lesbian business leaders exist in the world, and also poked at the lack of civil rights in nations like China (where the bulk of Apple products are made) and Russia, where a giant monument to Steve Jobs and the iPhone was removed from a St. Petersburg university campus after the announcement.
This roll takes you to pink… Entertainment:
American country music saw two long-established artists come out in 2014. Both Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman announced they were gay in November. Herndon has had a total of 17 singles on the Billboard Hot Country charts while Gilman burst onto the scene at age 11 with his single “One Voice”. Both claim to have received support from fans and fellow stars alike.
The world of country also saw the emergence of a rising star in Steve Grand, whose lyrics pine for cowboys instead of cheerleaders. Some referred to his debut as the first openly gay male country musician to go mainstream in the U.S. with “All-American Boy.”
Next up… brown for Art & Literature:
Another all-American boy, Riverdale’s beloved comic teen Archie Andrews, was shot when he took a bullet meant for the series’ first openly gay character. While the move was more a statement around gun control, the fact that a wholesome mainstay in American comics sacrificed himself to save a gay friend is telling of a cultural shift in attitudes… even if it’s just in Riverdale.
Now you’ve landed on green… Science & Nature:
A federal panel started to consider overturning a ban on blood donations by gay men… a rule that’s been in place since 1985. The ban states that any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 cannot donate blood. Blood bank officials, along with the FDA, are finally responding to the vastly improved AIDS-detection technology that has been developed since the ban was put into place, while reiterating that AIDS isn’t just a “gay disease.”
Researchers from the University of Portsmouth in England have developed a new theory on the evolutionary basis for homosexuality: it helps us bond. Evolutionary psychologist Dr. Diana Fleischman claims that while most of us think of sexual behavior as a means for procreation, the pleasure and intimacy associated with it also helps in the formation and maintenance of societal bonds. This is evident among romantic partners, even those who are incapable of reproduction.
Now comes my toughest category, orange… Sports & Games:
Openly gay college football star Michael Sam made history after being selected by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of 2014’s NFL Draft. The Rams cut Sam at the end of their training camp and he moved to the Dallas Cowboys who also booted him after seven weeks on their practice squad. While it’s disappointing that some can’t see past Sam’s sexuality and focus on his athletic abilities, especially in a game that features men in tight pants grasping at balls, someone had to be the first, and he surely won’t be the last.
Jason Collins, the NBA’s first openly gay player, announced his retirement in 2014. His 13-year career saw him play for the Nets, the Celtics and the Wizards among others.
Now that each slot in your little pie piece is filled with multi-colored plastic chunks thanks to your stellar knowledge of 2014 LGBT news, let’s all move our pieces to the center of the board and roll to see who wins.
(Spoiler alert: It will be all of us.)