Equally as important in this fight for full inclusion in social and political life are the straight allies in our movement. Though they may not identify as LGBT, their work and perspective is just as crucial (and in some cases even more important) and deserves to be recognized and celebrated as well.
With that, we present to you some of the biggest allies of 2013! Obviously there are many more, so if you have one we didn't feature or your own ally you want to recognize and celebrate, list him or her in the comments section below.
Sarah Hankel-Hoffman and Jason Hoffman made a decision earlier this year to cancel their wedding reception at the Görtz Haus Gallery in Grimes, Iowa after the venue turned away two men who also wanted to hold their wedding ceremony in the same location. Hankel-Hoffman and Hoffman wrote an intensely personal, viral blog post about their decision to cancel the wedding reception and their incredible commitment to equality.
During an interview with SiriusXM Radio in mid-October, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL 23rd District) shared a heartwarming story about her son. Prompted by a television commercial he saw while in the 4th grade, Wasserman's son asked her: "Mom, what does being gay mean?" Her response was nothing short of amazing: "I [was] standing on a crossroads here in my child's life," she stated. "This is the moment when people either turn their children into bigots and narrow-minded individuals or they have an opportunity to open their eyes to tolerance. Of course, I had always intended to choose tolerance and understanding."
Watch her full response in the interview.
Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from Ohio, made history when he reversed his historically anti-gay stance on same-sex marriage two years after learning that his son is gay. Stating that his son inspired him to reassess his position on the issue, he later penned a column for the Columbus Dispatch about his reversal. "I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad," he wrote, "the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married."
Grandfather Of The Year
In this incredible viral letter, a grandfather passionately addresses his daughter's decision to kick her gay son out of the house after he decided to come out of the closet. He bravely tells his daughter that "kicking Chad out of your home simply because he told you he was gay is the real 'abomination' here. A parent disowning her child is what goes 'against nature.'"
In wake of his daughter's apparent disavowal of her gay son, this grandfather seems to be stepping up to the plate when it comes to his care and well-being -- earning him a spot on our list of biggest allies of the year.
Last October, Texas Judge Carlo Key announced his reelection bid via a YouTube video -- but with an incredible twist.
Key not only told viewers that the Republican party was "at war with itself," but that he would be leaving the GOP altogether and running as a Democrat. "Make no mistake: I have not left the Republican Party. It left me," Key said. "I cannot tolerate a political party that demeans Texans based on their sexual orientation, the color of their skin or their economic status."
Illinois State Representative Naomi Jakobsson made a heartbreaking decision in early November when she left the bedside of her gravely ill son to vote "yes" on legislation she had co-sponsored to legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois. With her support, the bill was approved with 61 votes in favor -- only one more than the minimum it needed in order to pass. Her son passed away while she was casting her vote, and she said in a statement that the vote was "one that I felt I could not miss and I know my son was proud of my decision."
So are we, Naomi.
Long-time LGBT ally and openly Christian singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth made some incredible claims about anti-gay Christians in early March. During an interview with Gay Star News, Chenoweth solidified the fact that you can be both Christian and pro-gay. "I just want it [gay marriage] to hurry up and not be an issue anymore... I think it’s important to say this because a lot of people think if you’re religious or you have any sort of faith, you’re automatically against equality in marriage," she stated. "If Jesus was to walk the Earth today, or Buddha or anybody, they would be horrified. Those people saying they’re doing it in the name of God? No no no no no."
In this emotional video, David Stevens, a straight man, shares what happened after he posted pictures of his gay brother's wedding on Facebook. After discussing the beautiful and loving relationship between his brother and his partner, Stevens reads a Facebook message he received following their decision to tie the knot. His nuanced and thought-proving response to the message, and subsequent defriending, earned him a spot on this year's Best Allies list.
Additionally, in September the actor once again sought to clear up his sexuality in true Franco fashion, saying that he isn't bothered by gay jokes, even going so far as to say "I wish I was gay!"
Us too, James.
When Sara Bareilles released "Brave" this year, she sat down for an exclusive interview with HuffPost Gay Voices to discuss the reason she decided to pen the track: for a friend who was struggling with coming out of the closet. "Watching that process made me consider how much of ourselves we feel the need to hide from each other on a daily basis," Bareilles told The Huffington Post. "It made me want to express support and encouragement for the idea of speaking out for your authentic self... whomever that may be."
World's Greatest Dad
When this father overheard his son on the phone discussing his intentions to come out of the closet to his family members, he eased his child's worries by writing him the best note ever. "I've known you were gay since you were six," the father writes. "I've loved you since you were born."
Chloe Grace Mortez
Steve Granitz via Getty Images
We love 16-year-old Chloe Grace Mortez and when she opened up about the experiences of her younger gay brothers in the October 2013 issue of "Seventeen" magazine, it made us love her even more.
"I have two gay brothers and two straight brothers, and my gay brothers were treated horrifically until they grew up and understood how to deal with it," she told the magazine. "I will delete you and I will block you, and you will not be a part of my life if you ever say anything bad about my brothers."
Matt Enloe and Lexie Lynn Merrill
When Army Ranger Cody James Patterson of Philomath, Ore., was killed in action while preventing a suicide bombing attack in Afghanistan, the Westboro Baptist Church characteristically announced that they planned to protest his funeral. In response, Oregon State University students Matt Enloe and Lexie Lynn Merrill organized a Facebook event to invite members of the community to a peaceful counter-protest. In response, more than 2,500 locals turned up -- and the Westboro Baptist Church never showed.
"Weird Al" Yankovic
Singer-songwriter and parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic vocalized his support for same-sex marriage in November after he decided to donate the proceeds of "Perform This Way," his Lady Gaga parody, to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). "'Born This Way' is such a positive song," Yankovic said in this video before acknowledging his personal support for same-sex marriage. "I wanted to show that my heart was in the right place... I felt that by donating to the HRC, that would show it was all in good fun."
“Jayden represents the natural humanity we are born with," Davis Hammet, Director of Operations at Planting Peace, said in a statement. "We come into this world compassionate, caring beings and only become hateful if we are taught to be.”