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Saturday, December 14, 2013

The L Wire's review of 2013: January

It would appear that Christmas and the New Year are fast approaching once again. I can tell because I’ve given in to the uncontrollable urge to wear novelty knitwear and have already been on a diet of mainly ice-topped mince pies and Quality Street for the past month. 

2013 has been a funny old year for me. Loads of big stuff has happened, life-changing stuff. I’ve found that some years pass by and not a lot seems to happen, but I’ve got a feeling that this’ll be one of those years that I look back on in the future and think, 2013, that was a pretty important year.

And as I look back now at some the things I’ve been involved with this past twelve months and at some of the big news stories that caught my attention, I realise that 2013 has been a really significant year for LGBT+ rights and visibility too.

When you think about it, this time last year equal marriage hadn’t yet been debated in the UK Parliament, hardly anyone was talking about Russia and there were a few less famous faces being open and proud about their sexuality.

So on the twelve days leading up to Christmas I’ll be looking back, a month at a time, at some of the key moments that defined the progress (or lack thereof) in LGBT+ rights and visibility in 2013, starting today with...

A tale of two coming out speeches

Many people consider January as a time for new beginnings, a time when they can make a fresh start.

I’m not sure whether it has been researched, but I would wager that the festive period is one of the main times of year that people come out to their families. Many students return home from the freedom and self-discovery that comes with living away and busy relatives get together during what might be the only few days in the whole year that they are all free. There is also the small factor (if your family’s anything like mine) of the copious amounts of alcohol that are traditionally consumed. I say that with my tongue slightly in my cheek, but it’s a sad-but-true fact that I was drunk the very first time I came out and didn’t manage to do it sober for over a year, and I’m pretty sure I’m not unique in that respect.  

Anyway, with new beginnings in mind, January 2013 saw two very different individuals take to the stage, speak their truths and start the rest of their lives being open and honest about who they were...

 After a whole career’s-worth of speculation (which is quite remarkable since she started acting aged three), Jodie Foster used her Golden Globes lifetime achievement award acceptance speech to address the issue of her sexuality. Some criticised Foster’s declaration as being too little, too late. They said that she deliberately saved face in Hollywood for decades when she could have been a high-profile, successful lesbian in a world desperately in need of both positive role-models and hope. Although I can see where those critics were coming from, I thoroughly enjoyed her speech, finding it to be honest and brave, as well as funny and more than just a little bit emotional too. It also turned out to be the first example of a theme that emerged in 2013; that of people coming out in their own words, on their own terms and without the use of rigid labels. You can watch Jodie Foster’s speech here and see for yourself.  

At around the same time, on the opposite coast of America from the bright lights of Hollywood, Maine teenager Jacob Rudolph—certainly not a household name—was also making an acceptance speech. He had been voted “Class Actor” by his high school peers and used his acceptance speech to explain that he had plenty of practice as he’d been “acting every single day of [his] life”. Jacob had been acting straight. His coming out video, filmed and posted on YouTube by his proud father, went viral and has since received almost as many views as that of his A-List superstar counterpart. Jacob Rudolph is a perfect example that a person doesn’t have to be famous to inspire and give hope to others.

Kissing goodbye to Lip Service

Sadly, this January wasn’t all about new beginnings. I admit I was more than a little disappointed when Harriet Braun, creator of Lip Service, announced via Twitter that the BBC3 show had not been renewed for a third season.

Being Scottish and with a heart that well and truly belongs to Glasgow, I am undoubtedly biased, but I thoroughly enjoyed Lip Service. I guess what I liked about it most (beautiful women aside) was the fact that there was finally some sort of media portrayal of women loving women in the city I know so well. Visibility and ‘relatability’ are both really important and I’m definitely not alone in thinking that there’s still not nearly enough of it for LGBT+ people in mainstream media.

The ladies of Lip Service (

The show certainly wasn’t without its flaws and through what I can only assume was a situation out-with the creator’s control, two of the main characters were desperately underused in the second series (one ended up cooking meth with Heisenberg on Breaking Bad). Even still, I thought that, with some clever writing and better utilisation of its characters, Lip Service deserved a final few episodes to do the show and its fans some justice and to tie up some of the many loose ends it left.

Alas, it wasn’t to be.

My hope for Lip Service is that, in time, it is remembered as a valuable addition to what is still a pretty sparse collection of lesbian-themed TV shows to come out of the UK. I hope that its existence acts as an impetus for writers and TV commissioners alike to create more relatable LGBT+ content in the near future.    

The UK Government keeps its equal marriage Resolution

Perhaps the most significant moment in January 2013 (in the UK at least), was the beginning of what became the year of equal marriage.

In December 2012, The UK’s Women and Equalities Minister, Maria Miller, made a New Year’s Resolution of sorts to bring forward legislation on equal marriage early in the New Year. And, unlike most of my resolutions, she actually kept it.

Stonewall's equal marriage campaign (

January 2013 saw the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill introduced to the House of Commons for the first time; a move that signified the beginning of what will go down as a landmark year for marriage equality both in the UK and abroad. The introduction of the Bill catalysed unprecedented levels of debate from not only politicians and political commentators, but also from other public figures and everyday people too.

A record number of countries and individual American states legalised or legislated for same sex marriage this year, making 2013 a year that will undoubtedly go down in history as the one that really got the ball rolling for marriage equality worldwide.

So it seems that January gave quite us an optimistic start to the year. Check back tomorrow for a review of February to see whether that continues...

What were your favourite LGBT+ moments of 2013? And what were your personal highlights? Did you come out? Get married? Do something life-changing? Let us know in the comments!

You can follow Julie Price on Twitter, @JuliePee

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