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THE 1990S DEFINING MOMENTS OF THE DECADE.

History has yet to make its judgement on the past ten years, but our readers have

When The Advocate asked readers, via www.advocate.com, to name the most important event of the decade, there were nearly as many events named as there were replies to the poll. While Matthew Shepard's murder, Ellen DeGeneres's coming-out, and President Clinton's election were by far the most popular answers, the survey serves as a surprising reminder of how so many events have changed so many lives in so short a time. Following are just 51 of the replies--one from each state and the District of Columbia.

Rod Garrett, 35

Henager, Ala.

Gays in the military debated

"In every corner of America, from coffeehouses to barbershops, everyone discussed `us.'"

Jackson Steele, 50

Anchorage, Alaska

Bill Clinton elected

"He not only talked about us; he also talked to us. The president of the United States said we should have equal rights, and he meant it."

Melissa Miller, 22

Tempe, Ariz.

Ellen comes out

"Ellen warmed hearts. She portrayed a very normal person, and the straight community needs to see that people who are gay are just as normal as they are."

Anne Shelley, 37

Fayetteville, Ark.

Equality Begins at Home week

"It brought national attention to [local activism], inspired more than 350 actions and events across the country for LGBT equality, and birthed new statewide organizations, including Arkansas Equality Network here at home."

Rich Bozanich, 42

Cathedral City, Calif.

Protease inhibitors introduced

"Since their implementation, none of my friends has died. If only these drugs had been available earlier, those who couldn't live long enough might still be here."

Sage Douglas Remington, 55

Southern Ute Indian Reservation, Ignacio, Colo.

U.S. Supreme Court overturns Colorado's Amendment 2

"It was monumental. It was the legal confirmation of the recognition of the gay, lesbian, transgender, and bisexual community."

Glenn Lu, 40

Stamford, Corm,

Gays and lesbians march on Washington

"[The 1993 march] represented an increase in gay visibility that I think has waned since."

Michael Kintz, 21

Millsboro, Del.

"Don't ask, don't tell" policy adopted

"Even though it was a meager attempt at best for Clinton to win the hearts of gays and lesbians while still catering to conservatives, it was still a small step."

Mauro A. Montoya Jr., 41

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Gay marriage debated

"I really don't care whether we call it marriage, domestic-partner benefits, or making whoopee on Tuesdays as long as the benefits are the same."

Michael Whaley, 36

Alpharetta, Ga.

Gays and lesbians march on Washington

"[The 1993 march] showed the real diversity of gay America and the great numbers of gay and lesbian Americans."

Bill McCoy, 25

Honolulu, Hawaii

Gay marriage debated

"It took gay rights off the back burner and into the lap of every conservative right-wing person in America."

Janet Redhawk, 38

Boise, Ida.

Melissa Etheridge comes out

"For the first time there was a role model who was out in the public's face and showing that queers were just like everybody else."

Ken Waagner, 38

Chicago, Ill.

Matthew Shepard murdered

"My high school art teacher was brutally murdered in 1981--stabbed 62 times by a couple of drifters who picked him up in a gay bar--and it was relegated to the inside pages of the local paper. I will never forget reading the daily stories of Matthew Shepard's condition and plight in The New York Times and being relieved that it was there for everyone to know about."

Kandy S. McQueen, 39

Solsberry, Ind.

Tinky Winky outed

"It beautifully illustrated the extent of the irrational fear and asininity of the religious right."

Shawn Harden, 22

Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Matthew Shepard murdered

"It instilled fear and grief in all gays and lesbians across America and especially on college campuses."

Jim Ploger, 55

Topeka, Kan.

Matthew Shepard murdered

"Because it happened in rural, small-town America illustrates that no one is immune from potential hate crimes--and hopefully it will encourage the public to stand up and be counted as not condoning these types of actions."

David Williams, 53

Louisville, Ky.

Bill Clinton elected

"He's been an imperfect president, but I think we need only recall those two jokers before him to see just how far he has helped bring us in just seven years."

Toni Pizanie, 58

New Orleans, La.

Matthew Shepard murdered

"It united the community, and it also forced a lot of heterosexual lawmakers into supporting gay and hate-crimes legislation."

Marguerite Roosen, 42

Portland, Maine

Gay rights laws debated

"Here in Maine ... we contend with the dubious distinction of having the only statewide gay fights law repealed by a so-called people's vote. Despite that, the dynamic of struggle continues with more people committed to not only legislative change but also instilling change of heart."

S. Dennis Winstead, 60

Silver Spring, Md.

U.S. Supreme Court overturns Colorado's Amendment 2

"It was the first affirmation by the Supreme Court that the rights of gays are indivisible from the same rights enjoyed as a birthright of American straights."

Allen Young, 58

Royalston, Mass.

Ellen comes out

"It brought major media attention to a positive gay character. It's important that we're seen living ordinary lives, not the lives of victims."

Ray Esper, 27

Dearborn, Mich.

Will & Grace debuts

"It tells us that it's OK to be gay. I can just imagine a teenage homosexual watching the show with his parents and using that as a springboard to come out. I wish I'd had something like that when I was younger."

Abigail Garner, 27

Minneapolis, Minn.

Ellen comes out

"It split the decade's queer history into two parts: pre-Ellen and post-Ellen."

Jeffrey Vaughn, 38

Laurel, Miss.

Camp Sister Spirit survives

"These wonderfully strong lesbians survived physical attacks, a lawsuit, and major harassment ... and ended up surviving well and earning the respect of most."

Daniel Cody, 35

St. Louis, Mo.

Bill Clinton elected

"He put us in the spotlight and legitimized our cause. Now our equality is only a question of when, not if."

Larry D. Drane, 54

Billings, Mont.

Matthew Shepard murdered

"Like Stonewall, it caused lives to change. Friends in Montana came out at work because people needed to know that those around them could be crucified on a fence."

Aleta Fenceroy, 50

Omaha, Neb.

Internet use explodes

"The Internet brings us together socially, gives us news, and allows activists to disseminate information instantaneously. It connects gay youth and people in rural areas--who may be totally isolated--with a community they can belong to. Many of the key events of this decade (the U.S. Supreme Court's Amendment 2 decision, the fight for equal marriage rights) would not have had nearly the impact they have had were it not for the speed and ease of Internet communication."

Janet Danielson, 45

Nixon, Nev.

Bill Clinton elected

"The very first time a U.S. president actually said the words `gay,' `lesbian,' and `AIDS' brought in a new era whereas we could not be completely ignored by politicians."

Peter Condon, 36

Keene, N.H.

Ellen comes out

"All it took was one person to make a difference, and she did--and provided us with one of the funniest episodes ever put on TV."

Michelle D. Piano, 32

Wanaque, N.J.

Jon and Michael Galluccio jointly adopt a child in New Jersey

"Today we can get custody of a child; perhaps tomorrow we can be married and share the same insurance benefits that heterosexuals do."

Rebecca Granato, 25

Albuquerque, N.M.

Matthew Shepard murdered

"It has shown us that there are people--gay, straight, trans, bi, gender bender, etc.--who do care for and love each other, and it showed us how a community can come together."

Corey Williams, 23

New Paltz, N.Y.

Defense of Marriage Act passes

"It signifies the lingering homophobia still present in American politics."

Penny Craver, age not given

Winston-Salem, N.C.

Ellen comes out

"The publicity brought the issue of gays and lesbians to the forefront of the entire country."

Vic Fandrich, 58

Jamestown, N.D.

Internet use explodes

"Because this is North Dakota, some of us cannot be as open and out as we would like. But we do know now that we are not alone."

Becky Benson, 48

Cincinnati, Ohio

Matthew Shepard murdered

"As an out lesbian, I had heterosexual friends and acquaintances approach me with dismay and regret ... and we also know that there are so damn many more who do not receive the media attention given to Matthew's murder."

James Nimmo, 48

Oklahoma City, Okla.

Matthew Shepard murdered

"The crime was of such a heinous magnitude, it could not be forgotten as just another crime. It could not be spun as just another queer making a bad choice."

Jerry Fortner, 52

Beaverton, Ore.

Bill Clinton elected

"No doubt most activists so preoccupied with how far we didn't go or how far he didn't go are blindly oblivious to how far we've come under the very tone set by just one man."

MaryJo Miegoc, 23

Carbondale, Pa,

Ellen comes out

"It showed viewers that lesbians are people who are as funny and intelligent and warm and loving as the next person."

David Di Carlo, 42

Warwick, R.I.

k.d. lang comes out

"I personally dreamed as a young man of being the first openly gay pop singer, so k.d. stole that from me. But who better to rob the torch and twang?"

Charlie Smith, 39

Charleston, S.C.

Internet use explodes

"While we are unequal in terms of many aspects of our lives, the Internet has allowed us to truly have freedom of speech. With it we have removed the power of homophobes to control the definition of who it is that we are, and we now have the power to define ourselves."

Tom Heald, 28

Rapid City, S.D.

Tom Hanks wins the Best Actor Oscar for Philadelphia

"It meant that an actor can and should be able to take a gay role without fear of it ruining his career."

David Kent Westmoreland, 39

Nashville, Term,

Matthew Shepard murdered

"Until Matthew it was very easy for the public to dehumanize [antigay violence], if not altogether avoid and ignore it. Matthew put a face, a body, a soul, a life on what has been going on and still goes on."

David Bernard, 42

Houston, Tex.

James Hormel appointed as U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg

"I hope that through this nomination our country is prepared once and for all to put aside bigotry and prejudice."

Seanna Ashment, 40

Orem, Utah

Matthew Shepard murdered

"It was important to me to see a conservative state like Wyoming .investigate, charge, and sentence [Russell Henderson and Aaron McKinney] the way they should have been."

Gardner G. Phillips Jr., 42

Richmond, Va.

AIDS quilt displayed

"[The 1996 display in Washington, D.C.] was a coming together of more than ten years of work in the gay and lesbian community with activists, researchers, and politicians to make a dream and necessity come true."

Chris Tebbetts, 35

Burlington, Vt.

Gay marriage debated

"A successful outcome on this issue would afford us the full roster of state benefits, rights, and responsibilities. Whereas we still have a long way to go, nationally, internationally, and just socially, it would close a loop that has never been closed before."

Malena Pinkham, 19

Kennewick, Wash.

Ellen comes out

"Ellen didn't do drugs, hate men, or try to be a man. She was comfortable enough that American society accepted her, and whether or not they supported her coming-out, they did witness it."

Thomas Martin, 33

Martinsburg, W.V.

ABC News announces gay vote percentages during the 1992 presidential election

"It showed that the gay and lesbian community is a recognizable force and that we do speak out on issues."

Andrew Brett, 35

Madison, Wis,

Tammy Baldwin elected to the U.S. House of Representatives

"She has talked openly about her sexual orientation from the start and has worked very hard in creating equal rights legislation for gay men and lesbians and has been a positive role model for young, middle-aged, and elderly people, both gay and straight."

Debbie East, 45

Lander, Wyo.

Matthew Shepard murdered

"Because of the watchful vigil following the murder, more people have come out, and people supportive of social justice are becoming activists. People are willing to risk taking a position neighbor to neighbor, where fundamental change has a better chance of rooting deeply."

Eric Peterson, 28

Washington, D.C.

Ellen comes out

"As Al Gore said, it forced all Americans to reexamine their feelings about homosexuality."
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Article Details
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Author:Barrett, Jon
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 18, 2000
Words:2088
Previous Article:CRISP WIT.
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