Those who think the end of the world is nigh got a bit of encouragement recently from the CBC. The folks behind the Ceeb’s website released their picks for the 10 major news stories of 2012 and asked readers to vote for their “top” story.
It reads like a Mayan doomsday scroll: Hurricane Sandy, Whitney Houston, the American election, Amanda Todd, Rob Ford, Luka Magnotta, Costa Concordia, the Elliot Lake mall collapse, Toronto shootings, Quebec corruption.
End-of-the-year lists are always somewhat arbitrary and by its nature news is negative, but this year’s top picks do not inspire much hope for the weeks ahead. The choices are all frightful — even the American election, which in its eight months of excessive pandering to the lowest common denominator and extreme spending brought “democracy” to a new low.
And what’s missing is even gloomier: Syria, Egypt, phone hacking, climate change, Israeli settlement expansion, robocalls, pipelines, doping in sports, Nelson Mandela hospitalized, the ongoing NHL lockout, Canada’s foreign policy, Buddy and Pedro separated, Justin Bieber robbed of a Grammy nomination. Horrors, each and every one.
The direst signifier of bad times ahead is possibly the bill from this year’s 12 days of Christmas list. The annual yardstick of our times reached an all-time high: $107,300 for all 364 items. World food prices, including the seven swans a swimming, continue to rise at alarming rates.
Meanwhile, those of us in Toronto look to our government to help. Wait, no, not this year. Our disgraced mayor is making top-10 news lists for all the wrong reasons and our city councillors are fighting over shark fins and plastic bags while gridlock levels surpass Los Angeles and record numbers of Torontonians live hungry on the streets.
Governments at federal and provincial levels are no better, which may be why a recent poll found Canadians are much less satisfied with our democracy than we were just eight years ago. I might also venture a correlation with another study that found Canadians are set to spend record amounts of money this year on alcohol.
But take heart: the inventory of milestones in the gay calendar is not nearly so grim. In the world of gay news, 2012 has actually been somewhat of a boom.
On the policy front, hard-fought battles were won at Queen’s Park in the form of new protections for trans Ontarians and queer Catholic students fighting for gay-straight alliances. In the US, the struggle for gay marriage — and against discrimination — has turned a corner. At street level, creative Torontonians came to the rescue of a beloved gay bookstore and opened a sexy new arts space in Kensington Market.
Possibly the biggest gay news of the year came in the straightest package (for now). The fight to end homophobia in sport has only just begun, but boy, did it ever. The year 2012 will surely be the year the sports world changed forever. Dozens of athletes came out of the closet and dozens more — perhaps most importantly — came out as allies.
Sadly, we also lost some rights and fights this year. In much of the world, gay people are only beginning what will likely be a drawn-out confrontation with religious bigotry and homophobia. Meanwhile, one rich government they’ve long turned to for help and support is thumbing its nose and turning its back. In the past weeks our leaders have voted against supplying life-saving generic drugs to those fighting HIV and AIDS and brought in new rules to make it more difficult for persecuted gays and lesbians to seek refuge in our safe country. This iniquity and disregard for life does not bode well for our country’s already disintegrating reputation.
So pluck up; while 2012 brought both good and bad, there remains a lot of work to be done. And please, just so they know we’re not going anywhere, go to cbc.ca and vote for Whitney Houston.