What should one expect in the new year? 2013 was very momentous, as you saw in our “year in review” articles that were published in the previous two issues. 2014 has a lot in store for us as well, and on that note, I have outlined ten predictions for the gay communities in Florida, nationwide and around the world, that I am pretty sure will come to fruition this year.
The Sunshine State will be prouder than ever as at least three gay pride gatherings will boast over 100,000 participants. Last year, records were toppled as two pride celebrations, St. Petersburg and Orlando, reported over 100,000 participants at their main events in June and October, respectively. We will see at least three celebrations attract more than 100,000 people in 2014 — my guess is that, in addition to St. Pete Pride and Come Out with Pride Orlando, either Orlando’s Gay Days Week, Miami Beach Gay Pride, or quite possibly both, will break six figures this year.
May will be the month of divas as Cher and Lady Gaga perform to sold-out crowds in Florida. This autumn, Cher announced that she would be going on her first tour in a decade, The Dressed to Kill Tour. Her tour will bring her to Orlando’s Amway Center on May 16 and to the BB&T Center in Sunrise on May 17. Both shows sold out within 30 minutes. Not to be outdone, Lady Gaga, who had to cancel her Florida tour appearances in early 2013 after suffering a labral tear to her hip, announced a brand new tour to accompany her album ARTPOP. At this time her only Florida tour date will be at the BB&T Center on May 4. Tickets sold out in mere seconds when they were made available to the general public. Florida’s gay community will definitely be abuzz with diva talk this May.
Florida will market itself as a destination for gay travelers like never before — and break records in the process. Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando spent millions of dollars revamping their image to attract more gay visitors in 2013, and 2014 will be no different. Orlando in particular is hoping to host more conventions and woo more travel writers to spread the word far and wide about the city’s thriving gay scene. Fort Lauderdale plans to sell itself to gays across the country with views of sunny beaches to people in Times Square and spectators at the Super Bowl. Miami’s tourism board will play a pivotal role at New York’s International Gay and Lesbian Business and Entertainment Expo in March. Tens of millions of dollars are being spent to woo gay travelers from all over the world, and the number of gays and lesbians on vacation in Florida will no doubt break records in 2014.
The marriage equality question will be up for a vote again in Florida, but will it succeed? Political action committee Equal Marriage Florida will most likely succeed in getting the one million signatures it wants before the state’s February 1 paperwork deadline, allowing the gay marriage question to return to Florida’s ballots. In 2008, Amendment 2 passed with 62% of the vote, effectively banning marriages or civil unions between gay couples in Florida. Now, in 2014, at least 60% of Florida voters will need to vote in favor of the new proposed amendment, which will overturn Amendment 2 and also change the state’s definition of marriage from using the words “husband” and “wife” to just “two persons.” The last statewide poll clocked support of marriage equality at 54%. Will we reach 60% by November and most importantly, will all those people go out and vote? Only time will tell; either way, it will be a nailbiter.
IN THE UNITED STATES
Marriage equality will be law in more states as discriminatory laws fall like dominoes. Currently eighteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, with two states (New Mexico and Utah) having celebrated judicial victories within days of one another in December. 2014 may be the year more than half of the states in the union give equal marriage rights to all couples. Legal battles in Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia will all be ruled upon in 2014, meaning one of these states may be the first in the South to marry gay and lesbian couples.
Out of all the notable comings out in 2014, one will be an NFL player. 2013 had many notable comings out in sports. Major league soccer welcomed its first gay player, as did pro basketball leagues the NBA and WNBA. College athletics also supported out gay players. While there are straight allies who speak out for gay rights, such as Brendon Ayanbadejo and Chris Kluwe, no current professional football player has come out yet — but 2014 will most likely be the year. Rising-star quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck think now is the time for there to be openly gay players in the NFL, and it’s one of the last barriers needing to be broken in sports. It’s just a matter of time.
For the gay community in Russia, things will get worse before they get better. All eyes will be on Sochi, Russia, in February, as the former Soviet resort town will host the Winter Olympics. In 2013 a law was passed banning “homosexual propaganda disseminated to minors,” which in practice silenced Russia’s gay community and allowed vigilantes to institute a grassroots pogrom against activists and others. While many Western governments have spoken out against these laws, no one government will fight Russia with fire on this issue, and the country’s gays will continue to suffer long after the closing ceremonies end.
Popular culture will continue to influence American minds on gay rights — in the right direction. In 2013, it was declared by TIME Magazine that the battle for gay rights had been all but won in the arena of popular culture. More and more LGBT characters are being featured on television (4.4% of all characters on primetime television at last count). The number of LGBT portrayals in the media will only become more prominent in 2014, and with it, hearts and minds will continue to be reached nationwide — and impacted for the better. Even though there will be Chick-Fil-A and Duck Dynasty-esque controversies bound to occur in 2014 and beyond, the numbers show that the people who will block our way to equality are outnumbered by the people who are with us.
You’ll have more spending power this year, but only a little more. The economy is forecast to grow in 2014, which is good news, but it is expected to grow at a similar or even slower rate than it did in 2013. National LGBT spending power is expected to clock in at $870 billion in 2014, up from $830 billion last year. What does this mean for the LGBT consumer? You’re allowed a few more discretionary choices this year. For example, this won’t be the year that you can buy your dream house in Provence, Malibu or Aspen, but this might be the year you can trade in your current car for a new one.
White fabrics and “Greatest Generation” retro fashions will be in style, and so will…florals? The old adage “Don’t wear white after Labor Day!” has been a mere guideline at best for Floridians, but the spring/summer 2014 fashion shows in Milan, Paris and New York City insist that white is here to stay, all year round. The fashions of the ’40s and ’50s are also back, with loose-cut pants and peak lapel shirts ready to be all the rage come April and May. The fashion trend that I’m not particularly digging, but the designers insist will be big, are floral prints (yes, for women AND men). I’m no Anna Wintour but I have trouble believing that last trend will be popular!