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Sunday, December 22, 2013

The L Wire's Review of 2013: September

Ever gone to bed after a particularly enjoyable night out and subsequently lost a day or two? If so, spare a thought for the six-and-a-half million Brits who, in 1752, went to bed on September 2nd and didn't wake up again until September 14th.

It wasn't, however, a particularly potent batch of mead that led to 11 lost days, rather the shift from Julian to Gregorian calendar. 

The people weren't amused and took to the streets to demand their 11 days back. I kind of wish I could have been there; I love a good protest!

Anyway, that story has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of this post, I just thought it was interesting!

If you want to read about a few things that are a little bit more relevant to LGBT+ visibility in 2013, read on to see what happened in...

Flora comes under fire for bullet advert

Unilever came in for criticism in September after an advert for one of its brands, Flora, was deemed homophobic.

The advert showed a bullet, formed out of the words “Uhh Dad I’m gay”, flying towards a china heart. At the bottom it says, “You need a strong heart today”.

The advert in question (

One of the main concerns of those struggling with their sexuality is how the news will impact upon their family; parents in particular. An advert alluding to the possibility that his child coming out would break a father’s heart is exactly the kind of thing that keeps people in the darkness of the closet.

Unilever quickly apologised for the advert, used in South Africa, and placed the blame for it on an external advertising agency they’d hired.

DIY proposal at Home Depot

Dustin Reeser got the surprise of his life when a visit to a DIY store ended with his partner, Spencer Stout, proposing to him in the company of their families and friends.

The shop might seem like a strange choice, but Spencer revealed that they had ended up going there on their first date.

The video proved to be one of YouTube’s biggest hits of the year, receiving over 11 million views since it was uploaded on September 11th and the lucky couple even got invited onto Ellen!

Parenting: you’re doing it right (part two)

Part one came back in March, when a father wrote a note of support to his son after overhearing that he was planning on coming out.

September saw a similar story going viral; this time involving a mother and son. Michelle Conway McClain saw that her son, Zach, had come out as bisexual on Facebook. Unable to speak to him in person, as she was leaving for work, she wrote him a note of support instead:

"You are still the boy who forever won my heart" (

The letter gained attention after being shared on Facebook and on viral websites such as Upworthy. When the “No H8” campaign shared the post on their Facebook page, Zach himself commented to confirm the validity of the letter and to speak of how overwhelmed he had been by people’s response.

Stories like this are particularly important in the way that the give hope to young people who are perhaps considering coming out to their own loved ones; particularly in a society where the Flora advert above can still exist.

Right behind gay footballers

September saw a rather unlikely partnership come together in an effort to kick homophobia out of football.

Stonewall—the lesbian, gay and bisexual charity—teamed up with bookmakers Paddy Power to get “Right Behind Gay Footballers” (RBGF).


Research of football fans in England conducted in 2009 showed that 70% of fans had heard or witnessed homophobia at a match. And although 75% of fans expected there to be gay professional footballers in England, none of the 4000 members of the Professional Football Association are known to be openly gay. 

The RBGF campaign wasn't about asking gay players to come out; rather its intention was to "help drag football into the 21st Century" and promote an atmosphere of acceptance and inclusion in the game for players and fans alike who are gay, lesbian or bisexual. 

The campaign sent a pair of rainbow boot laces to every professional club in the UK and caught the attention of both players and fans alike on social media; with over 72,000 mentions of the campaign's hashtag during the week-long campaign on Twitter alone. 

Rainbow laces were sent out to thousands of players (

The tone of the campaign, delivered in Paddy Power's usual "banter with the lads" style, faced some criticism. International campaigning initiative Football v Homophobia said that they declined being involved with RBGF as they "did not feel comfortable with some aspects of the language and tone" and felt the campaign relied too heavily on "sexualised innuendo and stereotypes about gay men". These sentiments were echoed by others online, but Stonewall said, "We teamed up with Paddy Power for this campaign precisely because they talked the language of players and fans".

Everton's Phil Jagielka got involved (

The campaigns weekend of action saw players from 52 clubs; including Arsenal, Everton and Newcastle; wearing the rainbow laces the following weekend. Whilst this is undoubtedly the most spoken about campaign to kick homophobia out of football in the UK to date, the fact that more than 60% of clubs chose not to participate for whatever reason shows that there's still some some distance to go.

 Can you believe we're three-quarters through the year already? If you've missed any of our earlier posts, you can catch up here. And don't forget to check back tomorrow when we'll be having a look at what occurred in October!

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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