BY ROB SALERNO – As we get ready to wave goodbye to 2011 and prepare for the coming Mayan apocalypse, we're taking a look back at the queer web videos that had people talking this year. Perhaps memories of this year's ephemera will keep you warm when the solar storms, earthquakes, magnetic pole reversal and super-volcanoes destroy the world around this time next year. Here are parts seven to 12 of my unranked countdown. Check out videos one to six here.
7) The FCKH8 campaign
The FCKH8 campaign attempted to turn the gay rights movement into a trendy fashion statement with its cheeky videos full of sexy people in skimpy clothes with highlighter and metallic colours shouting ironic, profanity-laced gay rights slogans at us. They say they've raised lots of money for movements fighting for gay rights in the US, so good on them. This video drew attention to the fight against a constitutional ban on gay marriage in Minnesota.
8) Michigan senator Gretchen Whitmer responds to pro-bullying legislation
Michigan lawmakers grappled with the issue of bullying in schools and tried to pass "Matt's Safe Schools Act," an anti-bullying law named for Matt Epling, a 14-year-old who took his life in 2002 after being bullied. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans inserted language in the bill that explicitly gave students, teachers and school officials the right to bully students if they did so out of a "sincerely held religious belief or moral conviction," essentially creating a licence to bully. Senator Gretchen Whitmer gave an impassioned speech on the floor of the Senate denouncing her Republican colleagues. In a nice bit of holiday news, I'm happy to report that Whitmer's speech contributed to a massive public outcry that eventually got the Michigan Senate to pass a version of the bill that dropped the licence-to-bully language, and Matt's Safe Schools Act became law on Dec 6.
[CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post inaccurately stated that Matt Epling was gay. We have been contacted by Matt's father, who wants us to know that he was not gay. He's also set up a website to distribute more information about his son and his anti-bullying campaign.]
9) Jonah Mowry's "What's Going On" videos
14-year-old Jonah Mowry created a stir when he released this teary, speechless monologue using flashcards to tell the story of his bullying, depression and self-harm before the start of the school year. At the end, he tells his bullies he's not going anywhere, because he's stronger than that. The video became a viral sensation and earned Mowry notes of encouragement from gay icons and celebrities like Perez Hilton and Lady Gaga as well as videos from everyday people. Months later, Mowry created a bigger uproar when he released a video saying that he was actually really popular at school and didn't need support anymore, which led some to call him a liar and even send him death threats. He later clarified that he meant he's become popular since releasing this video and coming out of the closet. Which, you know, is the best possible outcome. Were people really pissed because he wasn't getting the shit beaten out of him anymore and he no longer thought of killing himself?
10) NMA TV takes on Toronto Zoo's gay penguins
The Toronto Zoo's gay penguins, Buddy and Pedro, inspired worldwide media attention, and while there are a lot of videos of the lovebirds out there — and even more videos of late-night hosts riffing on them — none match the inspired lunacy of NMA TV's animated news coverage of the brouhaha, which includes a fey Marcus Bachmann trying to pray the gay off them while they fuck to a clip of Lionel Ritchie singing "Hello."
11) US soldier comes out to his father
Randy, a gay soldier who had been posting videos and tweets about military life in the closet under the screen name AreYouSurprised, revealed his face and came out to his father in this surprising and heartwarming video the morning that Don't Ask, Don't Tell was officially scrapped. More than five million people have watched the YouTube video. It's a fitting tribute to the end of this discriminatory policy and hopefully is helping contribute to change for gay Americans. Randy has posted a whole series of videos talking about his journey out of the closet. It didn't go so well when he came out to his mother. He's also built like a tank:
12) Phil Villeneuve dancing on the subway
There's no giant message here. It's just fab Tunes columnist Phil Villeneuve dancing on the Toronto subway to Kylie Minogue's "Get Out of My Way." Back in March, it seemed like everyone was posting this on their Facebook walls, and it really is a fun video to watch. Villeneuve has since taken his moves to a No Frills store at the Dufferin Mall, the Royal Ontario Museum and the Eaton Centre.
Come back tomorrow for the big finish!