While we seem to be entering the dreaded all-encompassing holiday season of HalloKwanGiveHannuMas, another minor and far less impressive day of observation has also arrived. It has been one year since I was given the opportunity to write this column and to keep the LGBTQ banner flying in the Myrtle Beach area.
As a veteran member of the gay community, I am accustomed to the, for lack of a better word, drama that just seems to be a byproduct of the day-to-day operations of Gay, U.S.A. Some of my coworkers and my long-suffering editor still struggle with trying to keep up with my regularly scheduled maintenance plan. So, looking back on a year in the life of this queer in your life, I have to say, it has been a hell of a year for everyone involved.
As a demographic, we have experienced unprecedented growth in the marriage arena. In fact, someone wrote in to say that I am allowing far too much column space to this subject matter. However, when you consider that in the span of less than 12 months, seven states stepped under the equality umbrella by extending full marriage rights to same-sex couples and another state passed a measure allowing civil unions, I think the only appropriate response is “Holy crap!” We are definitely making progress. And, when people complain about what I write, it warms my heart in a very special way.
During the year, I have attended equality rallies and pride events across the country from here in South Carolina to Orange County, California. I have noticed that the overall spirit of these events has also changed for the better. People who are attending seem to know that we are winning. It’s no longer just the members of the gay community coming together to celebrate, there is now a virtual waiting list of high profile community leaders and yes, even politicians, who want to appear on the dais. Our collective life on the D-List is officially over.
I like the fact that our community here in the Myrtle Beach area is alive and thriving. We have a remarkable group of people who are committed to making a difference in the lives of others. CareTeam, the Family Equality Council and SC Equality are all actively working to make lives better and to drag this state into the 21st century awareness of diversity and inclusion. It’s time we exited the Bible Belt mentality. I mean, come on, what state is better at seceding than South Carolina? I’m sure I will pay for that in angry e-mails but it had to be said.
I’ve also learned that there are more than a few people out there who don’t particularly care for what I do. I always know there is something special in an e-mail when the subject line addresses me as a heretic, or a sodomite or, my personal favorite: apostate. When people say things like that to me, it’s almost as if I’m back at home at a family reunion. Special recognition goes to the person who called me a catamite. For me, that glass is definitely half-full. Some people may see an insult. I see someone who called me youthful. Thank you.
So, where do we go from here? The new year promises to be very eventful. On the immediate horizon is a lawsuit by two Lexington County women who are suing the state over the 1996 Defense of Marriage Law. I am wishing every success to Tracie Goodwin and Katherine Bradacs and their beautiful family. Gov. Nikki Haley is vowing to mount an aggressive defense of the law but we’re talking about a woman who locked herself out of the Governor’s Mansion. There’s a perfect metaphor for a political career if I ever heard one.
So, as we trudge into the holidays, there is definitely ample reason to be thankful and to rejoice. The LGBTQ community of South Carolina and our little community here at the beach in particular are thriving. We may very well see history made in the coming year and if we don’t see history, we will definitely see progress. I am certain there are people who will rail against us. I’m definitely ready for them, loaded with the same snarky barbs and contempt that I usually reserve for reversible belts and tent revivals. Peace to all of you and thanks for allowing me to share.
OUT & ABOUT
Saturday, October 26 – SC Equality Council will hold its annual Gala at Embassy Suites in Columbia. This year’s theme is Alice in Wonderland. U.S. Attorney William Nettles will speak and singer Frenchie Davis, who got booted off “American Idol,” will perform. For additional information about SC Equality and the Gala, visit www.scequality.org.
Saturday, October 26 – The annual CareTeam AIDS Walk and Festival will take place in Plyler Park. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and the walk begins at noon. For more information, contact Johanna Haynes at 236-900 or go to www.careteamsc.org.
Thursday, October 31 – Pulse Ultra Club will hold its annual Halloween Costume Party complete with cash and prizes. Pulse Ultra Club hours are from 5 p.m. until 4 a.m. For additional information, check for updates on the club’s Facebook page.
Thursday & Friday, November 7 & 8 – Pulse Ultra Club will host the Miss Gay South Carolina US of A Pageant. The entry fee is $100. Prizes total $2000. The winner and runner up will both be eligible to compete in the National Pageant in May. Robyn Cassadine, Miss South Carolina Gay US of A and Shae Shae LaReese will perform. Pulse Ultra Club is at 803 Main St. in Myrtle Beach.
Friday, November 8 – First Friday Happy Hour/Takeover Grand Strand will hold its November celebration at Ocean 17 from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Ocean 17 is at 9820 North Kings Highway in Myrtle Beach. For additional information, please see www.firstfridayhappyhour.org.
Saturday, November 23 – Dancing with the Horry County Stars will hold their fundraising event which benefits Early College High School at the Grand Dunes Marina Inn in Myrtle Beach The event begins at 8:00 p.m. For information on this event, please see their website www.horrydancing.com.
Have a thought, comment or Out & About event? Send Drew Levy-Neal an e-mail to Drew.Levy.Neal@gmail.com. You can also follow him on Twitter: @Drew_Levy_Neal.