Last year Hotspots debuted the “10 Things to Expect” feature. As I was reading the column again, just before I finished writing this year’s list, I noticed a lot of my predictions came true. I may have been off the mark about some fashions (florals were in but the 1940s were not), but a lot of my predictions did happen, like how St. Pete Pride and Orlando Pride grew to become two of the largest LGBT pride celebrations in the South. I’m trying my hand at ten more predictions. Let’s see if I’m right!
One thing you should expect in Florida this coming year is the sound of wedding bells! Pam Bondi has tried to thwart us at every turn but much like a Scooby Doo villain, she will be left in the dust and the good guys will win at the end of the day. It looks like gay couples will be allowed to marry on January 6, but even if (heaven forbid) a stay is put into place by the United States Supreme Court, this will still be the year where couples can finally get married on the beach without having to go to California or Hawaii. Plus, no need to trek to the icy north anymore! The Sunshine State will be a gay wedding capital soon enough. And by soon, I mean in 2015.
2015 will be the year Florida will be abuzz with concert fever. Last year was pretty good, considering Cher, Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato and others came to the Sunshine State, but next year it will be even better. Musical newcomers Meghan Trainor, Ariana Grande and Iggy Azalea have all announced tour stops in Florida in 2015, and of course mega-sensation Taylor Swift will be coming here in the autumn. Let’s not forget the Divine Miss M, who will be starting her North American tour in May at the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood! Yes, this year there will be a lot of great concerts to attend, and we’ll be here to tell you about every single one of them.
Last year we told you to expect record-breaking pride celebrations, and I was right about that prediction. This year, I’m going to predict that Ybor City will be absolutely flooded with partygoers and well-wishers as Tampa celebrates with its own pride parade and festival — its first in 15 years! Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who is a fierce advocate for equality and is someone I’m honored to say knows me by name and treats me with such kindness, went above and beyond in giving Pride organizers money for the upcoming festivities. A request for $10,000 was declined, only for the city to give Tampa Pride $35,000. The city is now also a sponsor of the event. So yes, I predict that Tampa Pride will be successful right off the bat and soon will grow to become one of the largest LGBT pride celebrations in the state.
All Floridians will be allowed to consider Cuba as a vacation destination starting in 2015. Now that President Obama has started moving in the direction of normalizing relations with Cuba, going as far as building an embassy in Havana and allowing free travel between the United States and Cuba, we’ll see more and more Floridians see what Cuba is all about, and in the short term that may take money away from our economy. But Florida is still a very popular destination for international travelers (over four million LGBT travelers visit Florida every year), and those people will continue to put money into the local economy. So we’ll be fine, and on top of that, now there will be another tropical destination for us to visit. I know I can’t wait!
There will be a war between ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft and the Florida cities who want to keep the roads full of licensed taxi drivers. Many of our bars and nightclubs love Uber and Lyft because it allows people to come and go as they please for a lot lower than taxis and the arrival time has been cut from question marks to a matter of minutes (and you can track where the car is, too!). Orlando is already trying to pass resolutions making Uber and Lyft charge more than taxis, thus killing competition in a free market. Whichever side you’re on, this fight will just get more vicious in 2015.
In the United States
The National Organization for Marriage will take its dying breaths in 2015. The organization was already in trouble long before the Supreme Court declined to hear a number of cases, causing the number of states with marriage equality to balloon to 35. They had owed millions of dollars to creditors, and the majority of their top ten donors had flown the coop. Even their public face, she of the bowl cut, Maggie Gallagher, announced that the end was near. They are already limping into 2015…I think this organization will show no further signs of life by New Year’s Day 2016.
Now that we’ve won the battle for marriage equality, including LGBT people in a nationwide anti-discrimination ordinance is more important than ever. In a majority of states, it is still legal to fire a person from their job due to their sexual orientation or gender identity. The worst part about all this is that most Americans think that doing such a thing is already illegal! Now that the former Employment Non-Discrimination Act is dead due to churches receiving too many exemptions — let’s call them what they really are, excuses to discriminate — the president needs to step up and do what he can to outlaw such discrimination anywhere it can manifest, especially since Congress won’t do anything.
The European Union and other pro-gay allies will take firm stances with anti-gay governments around the world, but they will not succeed in getting anywhere with Russia. Just this past month, the European Union pulled its humanitarian funding from the small country of The Gambia in western Africa, after the country passed a law which would put homosexuals in prison for life. The next target is Uganda, which has already suffered from reduced humanitarian aid from countries like Sweden and France. But Russia will continue to double down on their anti-gay hatred and discrimination, even if it means ruining their economy in the process. Recently they criticized Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, for coming out. How about Apple pulls every product from Russian store shelves? Would they change their tune then? Sadly, probably not.
Asia will undergo a gay rights revolution in 2015. In the past year we saw Akie Abe, the First Lady of Japan, march in Tokyo’s gay pride parade, and we saw the culturally conservative nations of Vietnam and Taiwan debate the possibility of allowing gay marriage in their countries. If they can do it, what’s stopping us, right? In Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, and other nations, gay people are coming out of the closet and discussing gay issues is becoming less and less taboo. With more visibility, we will see more progress, and I bet one of the biggest positive gay rights stories of the year will come from Asia.
In Pop Culture
People taking to social media to promote great causes and world peace will continue in 2015. This past year we were given such phenomena as the Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised millions upon millions of dollars for The ALS Association; the #WeAreAllClean meme, raising awareness for HIV and AIDS and sharing some sexy shower photos in the process; and #IllRideWithYou, which showed the resilience and unity of the Australian population when confronted with a terror attack that sought to divide people along religious lines. I predict more social media trends flooding Facebook, Twitter and Instagram this coming year, and we will see the power of kind-hearted people in action. They can move mountains, and they probably will.
Check out last year’s 10 Things to Expect.