After closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Boy Scout camp leader Derek Nance softly said to himself, "Here we go," introduced himself and said the three hardest words any gay person can say to anyone: "I am gay."
Nance has been a part of the San Diego-based Mataguay Scout Ranch for ten years where he's worked from being an outdoor skills instructor to the camp's program director. Although he's been openly gay with his family and friends "in real life," Nance describes his love for his job and his close relationships with his co-workers, yet can't share his sexuality with them due to the Boy Scouts of America's anti-gay policy. Nance cited Tim Griffin, a former Eagle Scout who was fired from his job last August because he's gay, as one of the reasons he had to come out.
In the video, which was released yesterday, Nance says:
"The only way we will change the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policies is if those of us who are on the front lines representing them to thousands of scouts every single summer start engaging in some open dialogue on this issue. Lawsuits by the ACLU or confidential reviews by the Boy Scouts are not going to change policies. The first step to coming to an agreement on this issue is to drop the old pretenses and stereotypes and to start actually talking."
The 102-year-old organization reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays last July, where Deron Smith, the BSA's national spokesman, said that the exclusionary decision was "absolutely the best policy."
In March, '80s teen idol and heartthrob Kirk Cameron, who played Mike Seaver on "Growing Pains," <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/03/kirk-cameron-piers-morgan-homosexuality-unnatural_n_1318430.html">proclaimed his anti-gay views</a> to Piers Morgan. Cameron said he believes homosexuality is "unnatural... I think that it's detrimental, and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization." On marriage equality, he noted, "Marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt, and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve -- one man, one woman for life till death do you part. So I would never attempt to try to redefine marriage. And I don't think anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No, I don't."
In a July interview with the Baptist Press, Chick-fil-A President Dan Cathy -- the son of company founder S. Truett Cathy -- addressed what the publication describes as his franchise's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/dan-cathy-chick-fil-a-president-anti-gay_n_1680984.html">"support of the traditional family."</a> Cathy's somewhat glib response: "Well, guilty as charged." He went on to note, "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that... we know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles." The comments caused major controversy for the company with LGBT advocates lashing out against Cathy and the chain and defenders pledging their unwavering support.
Despite the support from the NFL (<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/26/nfl-sexual-orientation-protections_n_981140.html">adding sexual orientation protections</a> to its 2011 collective bargaining agreement) and some of its stars, such as Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe, Cleveland Browns linebacker <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/27/tank-carder-cleveland-browns-linebacker-gay-faggot-tweets_n_2194367.html">Tank Carder voiced his disapproval of LGBT people in November</a>. Carder took his views to Twitter, tweeting: "I don't agree with being gay or lesbian at all, but saying faggot doesn't make me a homophobe, it's just a word," among other comments. He did apologize, however, and claimed his tweets do not reflect his character.
If you don't recognize this man, he's the one who inspired NFL star <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/23/chris-kluwe-minnesota-vikings-gay-marriage-letter_n_1907200.html">Chris Kluwe to passionately speak up for gay rights</a>. Maryland Delegate C. Emmett Burns, who voiced his disappointment with President Obama for supporting same-sex marriage (VIDEO), <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/07/brendon-ayanbadejo-ravens-emmett-burns-marriage_n_1863488.html">wrote a letter to the Baltimore Ravens</a>, expressing his dismay that a player on its team -- Brendon Ayanbadejo -- had been voicing his support for marriage equality. Burns's letter caused Kluwe to write a letter of his own to the politician, telling the delegate who represents Baltimore County's District 10, "Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level."
Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney had made it very clear that he sits on the opposite side of the fence compared to Obama when it comes to LGBT issues. (Take a look at <a href="http://www.hrc.org/the-truth-about-mitt-romney/on-the-issues#.UNCCwUJAukA">Romney's stance on the issues</a> from our friends at the Human Rights Campaign.) This year we learned about Romney's <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/mitt-romneys-prep-school-classmates-recall-pranks-but-also-troubling-incidents/2012/05/10/gIQA3WOKFU_story.html">anti-gay bullying</a> days in high school, his ongoing <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/romney-anti-gay-group-_n_1417619.html">relationship with the National Organization for Marriage</a> and in a blog that lit up the internet, by <em>HuffPost's</em> Michelangelo Signorile, we saw even more of Romney's anti-LGBT beliefs when he emphatically proclaimed that <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelangelo-signorile/romney-some-gays-are-actu_b_2022314.html">gay parents having children is not right.</a>
Victoria Jackson, formerly of "Saturday Night Live," is not one to shy away from her now widely-known conservative views, including her anti-gay beliefs. Last year, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/20/victoria-jackson-on-glee-_n_838071.html">she lambasted "Glee"</a> for its same-sex kiss between gay characters, Kurt Hummel and Blaine Anderson. The actress <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/31/victoria-jackson-todd-akin-rape-abortion_n_1847852.html">spoke with <em>The Huffington Post</em> in late August</a>, talking about Rep. Todd Akin's controversial comments regarding rape and abortion and responding to a <em>HuffPost Gay Voices</em> blog written by a former friend who ended his relationship with Jackson because of her stance on homosexuality.
After President Obama's historic proclamation in May that he supports marriage equality, numerous naysayers spoke out against the commander-in-chief. North Carolina pastor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/north-carolina-pastor-gay-rant-starvation_n_1533463.html">Charles L. Worley went as far as saying</a>, "Build a great, big, large fence -- 150 or 100 miles long -- put all the lesbians in there," in a video that was posted on YouTube and soon went viral. He continued: "Do the same thing for the queers and the homosexuals and have that fence electrified so they can't get out...and you know what, in a few years, they'll die out...do you know why? They can't reproduce!"
Rev. William Owens
Rev. William Owens is the president and founder of the <a href="http://caapus.org/about-us/">Coalition of African-American Pastors</a>, "a grass-roots movement of African-American Christians who believe in traditional family values such as supporting the role of religion in American public life, protecting the lives of the unborn, and defending the sacred institution of marriage." So when President Obama revealed in May that he supports same-sex marriage, Owens held a press conference where he reprimanded the commander-in-chief for his views and later spoke with several news outlets, saying that Obama was taking the <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYZLMuXBPDk">black vote for granted</a>.
A year just wouldn't be completely without some anti-gay rhetoric from Bryan Fischer. Among the many repugnant statements the Director of Issue Analysis for Government and Public Policy at the American Family Association made in 2012, one of the most heinous was in August when he argued for an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/08/bryan-fischer-underground-railroad-gay-parents-kidnapping-_n_1757378.html">"Underground Railroad to deliver innocent children from same-sex households."</a>
In July, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Salvatore Cordileone as Archbishop Of San Francisco. Cordileone made headlines in 2008 when <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/27/salvatore-cordileone-gay-marriage_n_1712224.html">he helped draft California's Proposition 8</a>, and, during a radio interview, called same-sex marriage "a plot by the evil one" to destroy the world. He also donated at least $6,000 to seeing Prop 8 passed and is currently the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. In November, directly after the election, the religious leader <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/08/salvatore-cordileone_n_2096488.html">released a statement</a> condemning the marriage equality victories around the country. He said: "November 6 was a disappointing day for marriage, as the effort to preserve the unique meaning of marriage in the law lost by only a narrow margin in four states, even though vastly outspent by those who promote the redefinition of marriage."
One Million Moms
What a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deron-dalton/one-million-moms-top-10-anti-gay-rants-of-the-year_b_2304656.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices#slide=1869169">jam-packed year</a> it's been for One Million Moms! From denouncing retail chain JCPenney for making Ellen DeGeneres its spokeswoman to taking on NBC's "The New Normal," which they proclaimed was "not normal," (that was too easy for them!) the group had (usually anti-gay) bones to pick with just about everyone (Oreo and Ben & Jerry's just to name a few more).
The National Organization for Marriage's <a href="http://www.nationformarriage.org/site/c.omL2KeN0LzH/b.7511259/k.71DB/Brian_Brown_President.htm">Brian Brown</a> has built a career on preventing any progress for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage. After this year's historic election, Brown <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/election-night-gay-marriage-victories-nom-brian-brown-maggie-gallagher_n_2089912.html">released a statement</a> condemning the marriage equality wins across the country. Before then, Brown took on Dan Savage in a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/22/dan-savage-brian-brown-nom-dinner-_n_1536560.html">dinner table debate of the Bible</a> (VIDEO), after the sex columnist and "It Gets Better" creator invited Brown to a "public challenge."
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin was a great choice for Mitt Romney in many ways. Their <a href="http://www.advocate.com/politics/election/2012/08/11/here-lgbt-rights-record-paul-ryan-who-reports-say-romney-pick-veep">stances on LGBT issues</a> matched pretty much tit for tat. But just in case we weren't clear about Ryan's feeling on same-sex marriage, he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/25/paul-ryan-gay-marriage-universal-human-value-_n_1914155.html">offered confirmation</a> leading up to the election when in September he said gay marriage is not an "American" or "Universal Human Value" while on the campaign trail.
Ron Baity is a prominent North Carolina pastor who founded Winston-Salem Berean Baptist Church and heads the anti-marriage equality organization <a href="http://www.returnamerica.org">Return America</a>. The influential pastor <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/ron-baity-north-carolina-pastor-amendment-one-gay-marriage_n_1497741.html">made news in May</a> when he said homosexuality is a "perverted lifestyle" and then went on to say that gays should be prosecuted like they were historically. Baity was <a href="http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/06/15/family-research-council-s-award-to-anti-gay-pastor-ron-baity-rewards-hate-speech.html">"honored" by the Family Research Council</a> in July with its highest pro-family award while praising the pastor for his anti-gay rhetoric.
David Bahati, a member of Uganda's parliament, is the man behind the controversial “Kill the Gays” bill, which would make being gay punishable by law through life in prison, and in some cases, execution. The bill was first drafted and introduced by Bahati in 2009 and received worldwide criticism from human rights groups and leaders. <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/201212150001.html">The bill is still pending approval</a>.
Pastor Sean Harris
In May Pastor Sean Harris passionately -- and horrifyingly -- implored his congregation, Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/north-carolina-pastor-sea_n_1468618.html">physically reprimand their children if they exhibit behavior outside of gender norms</a>. Harris spoke at length in support of North Carolina's proposed Amendment 1, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/amendment-one-north-carolina_n_1501308.html">which ended up passing</a>. The amendment defines marriage in the state constitution as between one man and one woman and outlaws civil unions and domestic partnerships in the southern state.
John McTernon, the guy who <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/30/hurricane-isaac-southern-decadence-gay-festival-new-orleans_n_1843636.html">blamed Hurricane Isaac on New Orleans' Southern Decadence celebration</a>, which is commonly referred to as "Gay Mardi Gras," in August was back at it again in October, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/hurricane-sandy-gays-same-sex-marriage-obama-romney_n_2038781.html">blaming Hurricane Sandy on LGBT people</a> and Obama's support of them. He claimed the mega storm was God "systematically destroying America." The Right-wing Christian preacher directed much of his rage at Obama but also had some choice words for Romney, as well. He said, "Both candidates are pro-homosexual and are behind the homosexual agenda."
Pope Benedict XVI
Though millions around the world revere him, Pope Benedict XVI's track record for supporting LGBT people and rights is next to nil. In January he <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/09/pope-benedict-xvi-gay-marriage_n_1194515.html">declared that same-sex marriage threatens "the future of humanity itself."</a> And in December, in his <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/14/pope-gay-marriage-threat-justice-peace-world-day-of-peace-2013_n_2303534.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices">annual address for World Day of Peace</a>, the Pope reiterated his sentiments, saying that gay marriage threatens "justice and peace."
Christian rocker turned preacher Bradlee Dean, who shot to infamy when he sued Rachel Maddow on grounds of defamation in 2011, continued his anti-gay rhetoric this year. He <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/bradlee-dean-preacher-allegations-gays-execution_n_1399971.html">spoke with <em>HuffPost Gay Voices'</em></a> Michelangelo Signorile in April and talked about his allegations that Muslims are "more moral" than Christians because they support the execution of gays.
Boy Scouts Of America
In July, the Boy Scouts of America caused a national uproar when the 102-year-old organization <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/17/boy-scouts-gay-ban_n_1679854.html">reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays</a>. The national spokesman for the scouts, Deron Smith, said the decision "is absolutely the best policy." LGBT ally Zach Wahls, founder of <a href="http://www.scoutsforequality.com">Scouts for Equality</a>, urged Intel to end funding to BSA, which the corporation did in July.
Pastor Terry Jones, whose claim to infamy is burning the Quran, made <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/08/obama-effigy-hanged-outside-church_n_1581272.html#slide=1110419">more news in June by hanging an Obama effigy</a> in front of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla. in response to the president's May announcement of his support for marriage equality.
Anonymous Father Who Disowned Gay Son
In August <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/father-letter-disowning-gay-son_n_1752053.html">a letter written by a father to his gay son</a> five years ago went viral because of the parent's refusal to accept his son. In it the father wrote: "You made your choice though wrong it may be. God did not intend for this unnatural lifestyle." The note was posted by Reddit user RegBarc who noted "It's important to know just what this zealotry from Bryan Fischer, Maggie Gallagher, Dan Cathy, et al., does to everyday people." The son, James, added: "I've never done drugs, was an excellent student, an obedient child (far less trouble than many of my classmates), didn't drink until I was 22 because it terrified me, and have had just 1 speeding ticket in my life. Yet I am still seemingly deserving of this terrible act of hate and cowardice that one person can place on another."
Patrick Wooden, a prominent North Carolina pastor, said that <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOg2eg1eS1w">gay men need to wear diapers</a> "because of what happens to the male anus" after sex. Wooden's offensive rant was a part of his discussion with Americans For Truth About Homosexuality in January. He went on to say, "Who wants to practice anything that is going to ultimately lead a grown man to about the time he’s in his 40's or 50's, or what not, having to wear a diaper or a 'butt plug' just to be able to contain their bowels?"
Former Arkansas governor, presidential hopeful and Fox News pundit Mike Huckabee <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/mike-huckabee-chick-fil-a-appreciation-day_n_1696648.html">declared Aug. 1 to be "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,"</a> calling for people to patronize the fast food chain that he believed was targeted with "vicious hate speech and intolerant bigotry." Huckabee issued a statement about the day: "The goal is simple: Let's affirm a business that operates on Christian principles and whose executives are willing to take a stand for the Godly values we espouse by simply showing up and eating at Chick Fil-A on Wednesday, August 1. Too often, those on the left make corporate statements to show support for same sex marriage, abortion, or profanity, but if Christians affirm traditional values, we're considered homophobic, fundamentalists, hate-mongers, and intolerant."
Just like John McTernon, who blamed Hurricane Sandy on gays, Focus on the Family founder James Dobson said that the Newtown, Conn. shootings were a result of America turning its back on God and endorsing marriage equality and abortion. Dobson's statement read: <blockquote>Our country really does seem in complete disarray. I'm not talking politically, I'm not talking about the result of the November sixth election; I am saying that something has gone wrong in America and that we have turned our back on God. I mean millions of people have decided that God doesn't exist, or he's irrelevant to me and we have killed 54 million babies and the institution of marriage is right on the verge of a complete redefinition. Believe me, that is going to have consequences, too. And a lot of these things are happening around us, and somebody is going to get mad at me for saying what I am about to say right now, but I am going to give you my honest opinion: I think we have turned our back on the scripture and on God almighty and I think he has allowed judgment to fall upon us. I think that's what's going on.</blockquote>