It’s a week into the New Year already. I can’t believe it. This is the third calendar year for Skipping to the Piccolo, so I want to thank my readers for their continued support. YOU are the reason that I write. No matter how far off that distant piccolo might be, we’ll keep skipping together into the New Year and beyond. Again, thank you.

2006 was a momentous year for all of us in the GLBTQ community (Gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning). We had yet another seven states pass anti-gay marriage amendments to their constitutions. But for the very first time we saw a state vote AGAINST their amendment proposal. In that same election, we saw the democrats take back both houses of Congress. If anything else, we’re pretty much assured that we won’t see another federal marriage amendment for a while.

We saw gay marriage and domestic partnerships legalized in several European countries, most notably Great Britain and Spain. Canada’s gay marriage law was challenged in their parliament, but that challenge failed. Equality still stands. Right here in this country, we saw that New Jersey legalized civil unions, adding to the growing list of states that support GLBT couples. California has domestic partnerships, Massachusetts has gay marriage, and Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey all have civil unions.

2006 was the year of Brokeback Mountain and Transamerica, both getting lots of attention at the Oscars, where Brokeback won several major awards. Alas it was snubbed on the “Best Picture” Oscar, but the story won both critical and public acclaim.

We saw two high-profile pastors get outed as gay adulterers this year. One denied it, the other admitted. Yet both lost their jobs. Ted Haggard and Paul Barnes, both of Colorado Springs, Colorado, left in disgrace because they hid their sexual struggles and trysts from their churches. This is one of the primary reasons I have written so often that we simply MUST bring reconciliation with the GLBTQ community and Christianity. Yes, we CAN be gay, out, and Christian. We are responsible for our actions, and simply must realize that living a lie, or a double life, is not an option. My heart goes out to the Haggard and Barnes family, and I pray that they’ll come to reconciliation and healing.

Justin Fisher, the man who goaded Calvin Glover into brutally murdering Pfc. Barry Winchell in 1999, was released from prison into a halfway house. His release brought back memories of his death from people all across the country. This story was especially on the lips of people in Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky. More than anything, it highlights the abject failure of the military’s “Don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy.

We saw plenty of entertainers and actors come out of the closet on their own. Most notably, Lance Bass, T.R. Knight and Neil Patrick Harris all blew their closet doors wide open. There was some talk that their decisions to come out was based on heavy blog criticism from folks like www.perezhilton.com and other bitchy blogs that zeroed in on their private lives. I think the important thing is that the DID come out.

For this New Year, there’s a lot we can look forward to. I bought a really cool pointy wizard hat a few years ago, so I’ll don it and make some predictions for 2007. Here goes:

There’s a real chance that we’ll see some significant movement to bring an end to the disastrous “Don’t-ask-don’t-tell” policy in the US military that “allows” GLBT people to serve as long as they don’t talk about their private lives. Let’s keep praying and pushing for this needed change. GLBT people have a right to serve, live openly, and die heroically for our country.

We’ll see a little more movement toward equality in the marriage front too. California and New York are both seeing a lot of action in their campaigns for marriage equality. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the issue pop up in Washington state. What’s more, there will be some rumblings of adding “sexual orientation” to protected classes nationwide. “Gender Identity” is another phrase we’ll hear about.

We can expect to see more people coming out and being outed. The American public is demanding honesty from its celebrities and leaders, and it’s only a matter of time before openly gay people are elected to public office in droves. Pro-gay laws will continue to be debated and passed.

Alas, we’ll see some anti-gay movement as well just like we did in the early days of the gay rights movement. The more that we gain rights and respect, the more we can expect the hateful shouts to get louder. They’ll use phrases like “special rights” and “militant homosexual activists” and they’ll demonize us as amoral, oversexed, and bitter queens who just want to “destroy the institution of marriage.” Expect it, my friends. We will be hated, marginalized, and belittled at every opportunity. There will be legal challenges and there will be obstructions, but truth will eventually prevail.

For those of us that are gay Christians, we have a clear opportunity. If we continue to come out as moral, godly, and sincere Christians who happen to be gay, it will throw wrench after wrench into the gears of the “gays are depraved” mantra that continues to be popular among Christian churches.

But even if we’re not Christian, we can stand together, live with integrity, and look forward to a future where all people are equal, and where we can finally have what we really want: to be left alone and in peace.