Tag Archives: Celebrities

Hero of the Week: January 25, Brendon Ayanbadejo

25 Jan
Hero of the Week

Hero of the Week

When a celebrity stands up for an issue, its nice to see them stick with it and not just enjoy a flash of press. Brendon Ayanbadejo, linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens, clearly has the courage of his convictions. A long-time proponent of marriage equality and LGBT civil rights, he weathered a storm last year when a local politician demanded that his team’s owners put him in check.

Ayanbadejo stood firm on the side of equality, and with the help of Minneapolis punter Chris Kluwe brought even more attention to the issue. His strong voice contributed to the success of marriage equality in Maryland at the ballot box.

Hometown success is not enough for Ayanbadejo, however. He continues to raise his voice for equality and stands in solidarity with the LGBT community; now he suddenly has a much larger platform. The Ravens are headed to the Super Bowl, and he wants to use that exposure to make the case for marriage equality nationally. Wanting to make the most of this opportunity, Ayanbadejo reached out to two other equality supporters — hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and activist Brian Ellner.

Is there anything I can do for marriage equality or anti-bullying over the next couple of weeks to harness this Super Bowl media?

What a great goal! While millions are turning their attention to this sporting event, he can convey a message of social justice. As a straight, biracial athlete, his power and voice are enormous, and he won’t squander them. Thank you, Brendon Ayanbadejo.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

21 Oct

While I usually leave movie reviews to my friend and fellow blogger, Feminéma, I felt very compelled to review Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  This movie fits perfectly into the issues addressed by TSM — issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, and social justice.

The tremendously talented ensemble cast make this movie an extraordinary treat, as they tackle aging, racism, marginalization, homophobia, and end of life issues. Tom Wilkinson is exceedingly convincing as a gay retired man returning to India to reconnect with the love of his life.  Wilkinson’s real life wife, Diana Hardcastle, plays the delightful easygoing Carol, who is eager to embrace her life. Former Absolutely Fabulous star, Celia Imrie, does an amazing job of a woman also wanting to reinvent herself, but also scared of what that might look like.

Another quite lovely and somewhat complicated story line is that of Penelope Wilton’s character, Jean and the demise of her marriage to Douglas, played by Bill Nighy (who was also brilliant in Love Actually). The story of Jean and Douglas is bittersweet and at times difficult to watch as they both wrestle with what they want their respective lives to look like during the autumn of their lives.  Penelope Wilton does a marvelous job of showing how many women of her age live fear based lives that can be paralyzing.  Juxtaposed with Jean, we have the recently widowed Evelyn, played by Judi Dench.  Evelyn is a picture of the complexities of a woman experiencing grief and at the same time living with great intentionality and pushing herself to forge a new life on her own terms. Rounding out the cast is the always marvelous Maggie Smith, whose racist character shows hidden depths as the bitterness of her first scene is explained and we get to watch her grow in ways that surprise even her.

In total, I found the movie to be inspirational and offers great hope.  There are times when it is nice to just watch a movie and leave feeling fueled.  I felt very nourished after watching this film, and extend an invitation to TSM readers to rent Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  

Happy Birthday, Sigourney Weaver

8 Oct

Happy Birthday, to Sigourney Weaver.  She is not just a brilliant actor, but she is a wonderful social justice activist as well.  While I love most of her work, I have to confess that one of my favorite movies she starred in was A Map of the World, also one of my favorite books. She’s run the gamut, from tough-as-nails woman in space in the Alien franchise ot the delightfully unlikable boss in Working Girl, from the tragic housewife in The Ice Storm to the washed-up action heroine in Galaxy Quest. She made history for her acting in 1988: she was the first person to win two acting Golden Globes in one year (Working Girl and Gorillas In the Mist). She also became the first actor to be nominated for lead and supporiting Oscars in the same year to win neither.

Weaver has built on her work in fiction to improve reality. After her role as Dian Fossey in Gorillas In the Mist she became a champion of Fossey’s work and is the honorary chair of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. She has expanded her animal rights and environmental work, speaking before the United Nations on the threats to ocean habitats posed by aggressive fishing practices. She is also a sponsor of Trickle Up, a non-profit organization focusing on those in extreme poverty, mainly women and the disabled. It’s wonderful to see someone using their talent and fame to make the world a better place.

As an added bonus, Weaver is a woman of 63 who is proud to wear her years. She is famously opposed to plastic surgery and other cosmetic treatments, having observed:

Actors’ faces have to move. I do think life should put lines on your face, or you’re not getting out enough.

In an age of artificial beauty and youth-obsessed culture, that healthy attitude is very welcome indeed. I find her even more beautiful today than ever!

I also want to congratulate Sally Field for being honored by the Human Rights Campaign for being such a strong ally to the LGBTQ community and supporting her openly gay son.

I also want to acknowledge one of my favorite writers.  On October 8, 1993, Toni Morrison became the first African American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Beloved is one of the best books I have ever read.  Morrison is a National Treasure.

My Love For Kathleen Turner

29 Sep

Kathleen Turner first caught my eye when I was quite young, and she was starring on a soap called The Doctors.  Her beauty and sultry voice were captivating. And of course who could forget Turner on the cover of Vanity Fair?  Later I saw her in Body Heat, and wow what a performance.  It was not until Romancing the Stone that I truly fell in love with Turner.  Not only was she amazingly beautiful, but she was bright, independent, and finds her own voice. Here we are in the 21st Century and I think I actually am more in love with her now.

Turner is one of the handful (and I do mean handful) of women who have refused to alter her appearance and has not succumbed to superficial pressure of what women are supposed to look like. For this she has earned my eternal devotion. In fact, I find her even more beautiful because she is her own woman, and her own person.  Her brilliance shines through!

Of course, I also find her politics and use of celebrity amazingly sexy.  Turner has used her celebrity for civil rights causes, including marriage equality and health care rights for women.

Last night, my husband and I watched The Perfect Family, in which Turner gives an absolutely amazing performance and shows how hypocritical and dangerous Catholicism can be.  Turner plays a devout Catholic who is up for The Catholic Woman of the Year Award.  The movie does a great and subtle job of exposing the misogyny and hypocrisy of the Catholic Church. It also does a nice job of dealing with LGBT families.  What is also worth noting is that Turner looks her age, which I find brilliant!  What an amazing role-model for women. Ms. Turner, if you ever get to Portland, I hope you will have supper with my husband and me.

The Dowager Countess Goosenberry

24 Sep

The Dowager Countess Goosenberry

I first met the Dowager Countess Goosenberry in 1992 when she was visiting the States. At that point she was just the 12th Countess Goosenberry, for her husband, Alfred, was still alive.  I have been very fortunate to remain close friends with the Dowager Countess Goosenberry and she has given me permission to make public some of our very private conversations.  My thanks to the Dowager for her candor on issues ranging from governments around the world to her views on women’s rights and the rights of the LGBTQ community.  My additional thanks to my husband and my friend Brad for helping corral the Countess, for she was given to the drink during this particular interview.

When did you first become an ally to the LGBTQ community?

That moniker has become quite cumbersome, hasn’t it? Honestly, Michael, I’m not sure I ever met a gay until my dear son Tarquin introduced me to some of his friends.  My Tarquin is quite open-minded and obviously a member of the Labour party (as am I on certain occasions).  Might I add that he is quite the debonaire bachelor, ladies.  He can cook and sew, in fact he did my makeup for this interview  Yes he is quite a catch, my Tarquin.  I’m now in my eighth decade and the whole kerfuffle seems to me to be much ado about nothing. Back home in Shropshire the gays can make their partnerships official — but then we Brits have always been ahead of you Americans in regards to civil rights.   In fact,  my Tarquin said he actually went to a gay wedding and it was quite lovely. I don’t like to drop names, frankly I’m not a name dropper, but Tarquin went to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi’s wedding. Tarquin designed Portia’s dress.  I just can’t figure out why some young woman hasn’t snapped up my dear Tarquin yet.  Might I just add, Michael, that we in Great Britain do not discriminate against gay boy scouts.

Countess, is it true that you are personal friends with the Queen and with other members of the Royal Family?

I don’t like to discuss with whom I keep company, but yes. Liz and I are old friends.  We used to play on lawns and landscaped gardens together. When my Tarquin was younger, Prince Edward once gave him a Woody.

I beg your pardon. What?

Oh yes. My Tarquin loved the Toy Story movies and Prince Edward was kind enough to give him the Woody figurine, it is not a doll mind you; it is a figurine.

Oh, I see. Countess, I know you live in Shropshire now, but have you any thoughts about our upcoming Presidential election?

Michael, you know I thought your Mr. W. Bush was just ghastly and it  seems to me that your country  wants more of Bush with that odious Mr. Romney.  I don’t mind telling you that we are not fond of Mr. Romney back home. His behavior in London was unforgivable, and his attitudes towards women are shockingly medieval. Although I do sometimes don a wimple–it can be very forgiving on the neck of a woman of my age. Before my Alfred died, he would have given Mr. Romney an earful. (Just between  you and me, my late Alfred did tend to lean toward the Labour Party. Made for some awkward drinks parties, I can assure you!)

Countess, I want to be respectful, but didn’t your late husband have an affair?

Yes, yes. It is true. My Alfred did have several dalliances, but then we did love each other to the very end. If you want the truth, I looked forward to my time alone. So many seasons, I would find myself hinting over the top of my ladies’ magazine, “did you see that pretty little so and so down in the village. I do believe she was eyeing you inappropriately.” Even after his tryst with Maggie Thatcher, we were still able to hold our marriage together.  You know they met at a leather bar?

I’m sorry, what? They met where?

Yes, at a leather bar. You see they both were buying new saddles for their respective horses.  I seem to recall the mention of some sort of stud fee, as well. Alfred told me all about it.  Apparently, Maggie has quite a grip and is much taller and more muscular than I remember.

Oh, I see. It seems an unlikely match.

Well, it was on the order of opposites attracting, really. I believe she also reminded him of a German nanny he had in the 30s… Ah well, it was brief and in the long run made our union stronger. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off for a Brazillian wax. We shall chat again soon!

The Dowager Countess departed before I could get her to clarify that statement. I look forward to sharing our next chat with you as soon as I can.

Bigot of the Week Award: September 21, Rupert Everett

21 Sep

Bigot of the Week

This week’s BWA was a particularly sad one for me to write.  I am consistently sad when I learn of self-loathing gays who internalize oppression.  Rupert Everett, star of An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest, Shrek II, and many other films, proved to be an amazing disappointment and demonstrated both his self-loathing and his privilege.

In an interview with The Telegraph Everett stated, “I can’t think of anything worse than being brought up by two gay dads.”  Really? You can’t think of anything worse? Wow, what a privileged life you live.  I hear Mitt Romney is looking for self-loathing gays such as yourself for endorsements.

Another statement of Everett’s revealed his ignorance of his own power, influence, and privilege: “I’m not speaking on behalf of the gay community. In fact, I don’t feel like I’m part of any ‘community.” If only it were that simple, Mr. Everett.

I’m embarrassed for you that I have to explain this, but you see you are a major celebrity and regardless of your intent, people will be guided by what you say.  Your influence is disproportionate by design of your celebrity. You have not only proven to be most ungenerous to your LGBT brothers and sisters, but you have proven that your own internalized oppression has rendered you a homophobic bigot.  You are also clearly not a man of science, which has demonstrated that children from same-sex parents are actually more well adjusted than children from opposite sex parents.  You must have the same science background as the bigot Mark Regnerus. You are now 53 years old.  Might I suggest a good therapist for you?

Hero of the Week Award: July 27, Christian Bale

27 Jul

Hero of the Week

This week’s hero is another Celebrity Gone Right story. In the aftermath of the shootings in Aurora, CO, there were many heroes. First responders, police investigators, hospital personnel, and friends and family of the victims all did their part to minimize the horror of the situation. One man with a connection to the incident that was both central and peripheral was actor Christian Bale, star of the Batman feature playing in the theatre.

While it’s clear that Bale, DC Comics, and Warner Bros. have no direct responsibility for the actions of a crazed gunman, Bale decided to use his celebrity to engender some healing. Many studio executives, the director, and other actors made wonderful statements of condolence. Bale quietly went to Aurora and visited each of the victims. He also took time to visit hospital staff and some of the first responders. Warner Bros. made it clear that the decision to go to Aurora was Bale’s, not a publicity department arrangement. Bill Voloch, interim president of the Medical Center of Aurora noted the value of the visit.

It was good for the patients. We hope it was therapeutic for them, and all the staff really appreciated him coming.

It’s a simple thing, perhaps, but it shows a humanity that rarely gets celebrated in the hype of summer films or in the 15-minute celebrity status gained by the perpetrators of such crimes. Bale’s kindness was noted by comic aficionados, local, and national media.

Honorable mention this week goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Regular readers will know that TSM is hardly Reid’s biggest fan given his compromise and capitulate strategies when dealing with Senate Republicans. This week, however, Reid scored a major victory. In a deal with Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Rancid Tea Bag, KY), he got both a Democratic and Republican tax break bill onto the floor for a simple majority vote. With the filibuster removed, the Democratic plan passed (51 – 48!) while the Republican rich-get-richer plan failed. While the Senate bill, which extends middle class tax credits and the tax breaks for Americans making less than $250,000 per year, will be DOA in the House, Reid’s strategy crafted an important pre-election contrast between the governing priorities of the two parties. Nicely done, Senator!

Of Celebrities and Closets: Cooper, Quinto, Cruise, and Company

4 Jul

One of these celebrities is not like the others?

Journalist Anderson Cooper made headlines this week by surprising no-one. The award-winning reporter and television host announced, “The fact is, I’m gay.” This was long-suspected by most people and well-known by his family and close friends. Given the turbulence of gay rights issues today, however, the explicit statement gives the LGBT community another friendly, familiar face. Cooper’s message, via friend Andrew Sullivan on the Daily Beast, is a powerful and articulate statement of both the personal and the political.

Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to. […] Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.

I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand. The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.

Cooper’s announcement is part of a larger — and relatively new — trend of out celebrities. Fifteen years ago, Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out story was a major media event beyond even what she expected. Today, of course, she is blithely invited into millions of living rooms every day. The past five years, however, have seen a massive spike in celebrities outing themselves, so much so that Entertainment Weekly made the topic into a cover story.

There are as many ways to come out as there are people, and it’s no different for celebrities (although they have to choose a press strategy too). Up and coming star Zachary Quinto simply dropped the phrase “as a gay man” into an interview. Emmy magnet David Hyde Pierce, late of Frasier fame, used the common mention-the-partner strategy. Comedian and activist Wanda Sykes chose a marriage equality rally for her announcement. Neil Patrick Harris opted for an exclusive interview with People, often seen as a friendly environment for LGBT stars. Singer Clay Aiken used the same strategy to defuse the swirling rumors about his sexual orientation.

Because celebrities are by definition in the public eye, gossip and rumors often play a critical role in their coming out stories. Recently, celebrity chef Anne Burrell acknowledged that she was a lesbian after Ted Allen accidentally outed her. Burrell echoed Cooper’s concern about balancing a personal life with a public life, especially as it affects her partner. Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons’ orientation was such an open secret that his coming out was treated with a distinct lack of fanfare.

Other celebrities treat the rumor mill with open hostility. Queen Latifah has a famously “none of your damn business” approach to her sexual orientation. After her recent appearance at a gay pride event had stories about her coming out swirling, she was adamant in her stand.

I’ve never dealt with the question of my personal life in public. It’s just not gonna happen.

That kind of balancing act is getting harder to manage. Just ask John Travolta, a long-time subject of gay speculation, who recently faced a new round of gossip and scandal including same-sex harassment charges and an alleged long-term affair with a male pilot.

Perhaps the champion when it comes to hostility to gay rumors is Tom Cruise. With his third marriage coming to an end, the speculation is amping up again, so much so that gay dating site Manhunt has offered him a lifetime membership. Certainly multiple celebrity marriages do not indicate sexual orientation (just look at Elizabeth Taylor). What dogs Cruise is the intensity of his opposition to the rumors. He has even sued people who suggested he was gay, winning one famous case and getting an out-of-court settlement in another. This strategy won’t work much longer, since a Federal judge has recently ruled that “gay” is not defamation. It is also interesting to compare the way Cruise is treated with another star who gets a lot of speculation.

George Clooney, who has said clearly that he is straight, is also very easy-going about the whole issue. Rather than jump on furniture and file lawsuits, Clooney treats gay rumors casually, saying

The last thing you’ll ever see me do is jump up and down, saying, ‘These are lies!’ That would be unfair and unkind to my good friends in the gay community. I’m not going to let anyone make it seem like being gay is a bad thing.

A celebrity’s field of performance also makes a difference. In general, singers and dancers have a much easier time being out, although this is much less true in country music. Openly LGBT athletes are extremely rare, especially during their active careers. Despite jibes from the right hinting falsely at bias on LGBT stories, Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow are still very successful journalists.

Times are clearly changing. Adam Lambert was comfortable coming out at the very beginning of his career just a few years after Clay Aiken delayed his announcement until after the hits started flowing. Neil Patrick Harris actually saw a spike in his popularity and his hit show has hardly suffered for his being out. This is a stark contrast with someone like George Takei, who heartily embraces his status as a gay icon now but would likely have lost his Star Trek gig if he’d been openly out in the late 60s. Just barely pre-Ellen, Rupert Everett has famously declared that being out has been a major hindrance to his career.

The fact is that you could not be, and still cannot be, a 25-year-old homosexual trying to make it in the British film business or the American film business or even the Italian film business. It just doesn’t work and you’re going to hit a brick wall at some point. You’re going to manage to make it roll for a certain amount of time, but at the first sign of failure they’ll cut you right off.

Everett’s career certainly stalled after one dud film in a way that Travolta’s or Cruise’s did not. The rapid rise in out and successful celebrities indicates he may be wrong about how much impact being out has today. The booming trend in honesty and success should help things get better, not just for celebrities, but for LGBT people in all walks of life.

Celebrating LGBTQ History Month: June 10, Judy Garland

10 Jun

Today would have been Judy Garland’s 90th birthday. We take the opportunity to celebrate one of the first and biggest icons of the gay community. Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, MI, she only lived 47 years and spent 45 of them singing, dancing and acting. She received a Juvenile Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award, Grammy Awards, and a Special Tony Award. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in the remake of A Star is Born and for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the 1961 film, Judgment at Nuremberg. She was the youngest recipient of the Cecil B. DeMille Award for lifetime achievement in motion pictures at the age of 39.

Judy performed vaudeville with her sisters in an act billed as the Gumm Sisters. They changed it to Garland (after a prominent critic) for more pizzazz. She was signed to MGM at the age of 13, getting her first big break working opposite Mickey Rooney in several Andy Hardy films. At 17, she starred in one of her most famous films, The Wizard of Oz. She continued in a number of musicals in the 40s, finding stardom but also facing weight problems and depression. She also married twice that decade, including  Vincente Minelli, father of her daughter Liza. She suffered her first major breakdown in 1947 and attempted suicide soon after.

She made her first comeback in 1954 with the help of third husband Sid Luft. She returned to the stage and starred in another iconic role in the remake of A Star Is Born. She acted in a number of other movies into the early 60s. Her biggest triumph in her (relatively) later life was her 1961 show at Carnegie Hall, considered one of the finest performances in the venue. She married twice more after Luft and continued to battle depression and addiction. On June 22, 1969 she was found dead in her London apartment, apparently of an accidental overdose of barbiturates and alcohol.

Judy Garland is iconic in gay culture. Her performance as Dorothy is so pitch perfect and so resonates with people who feel trapped (read Kansas as closet), that Friend of Dorothy has been code for gay for decades. Her status is so significant that Wikipedia has an entire entry on Judy Garland as Gay Icon. She was larger than life, glamorous and tragic, married gay men, and loved spending time in gay bars. While never actively courting the gay community (such as it was before her death), she was accepting of gay men simply for who they were, something very rare in her generation. Legend also associates Garland with the Stonewall Riots which kicked off the gay rights movement. According to some stories, the gathering at the Stonewall Inn on June 27, 1969 was to watch her funeral on television. While some dispute this claim, it is just one more thread weaving the bright and tragic life of the legendary Judy into the rainbow flag.

Today is also the birthday of Maurice Sendak, who died last month at the age of 83.

Celebrities For Social Justice: My Interview with Suzanne Whang

11 Mar

Whang: Working For Social Justice

While we have many celebrities in the world, we don’t have many that are willing to use a strong voice and use their celebrity for social justice.

Today I had the distinct pleasure of talking with Suzanne Whang.  Most of you know Suzanne as the host of “House Hunters” on HGTV, her recurring roles on NBC’s “Las Vegas” and ABC’s “General Hospital,” her many movie roles, or her very funny and irreverent stand-up comedy character Sung Hee Park.  Today I got to know Suzanne as the very gracious, gentle, and kind social activist.  We started the interview with Suzanne asking how I was doing and how was Portland and that she loved Portland. I think I was caught off guard at how genuine and generous Suzanne was—she made me feel as though I had been talking to a friend of many years.

Whang was a Navy brat and attended seven different elementary schools across the country.  She talked about always being the new kid in a new school, and how this informed her choice in career:  “Being the new kid in school, you have to be very adaptable and make friends easily.  As an actor, every audition is like being the new kid in school and making a good first impression.  I think also instead of resisting change, I embrace change, which is why being an actor appealed to me.  Every project brought a new role, new cast, new crew, different locations, different perspectives.”  Her grandfather, Whang Chai Kyung, was a well-known Korean minister and was controversial for using humor in his sermons.  He said it was the only way to keep people awake every Sunday.

Religion

I am a minister now, and when I give guest sermons, I feel like I’m channeling my grandfather.  I call it Up-laugh-ment – using humor to raise consciousness.  There is not one religion or one perspective that will work for me.  I have eclectic taste in many different aspects of my life, and I call my self a spiritual slut.  I find things of value in many different spiritual philosophies and religions.  However, I have also found a lot of hypocrisy across the spectrum.  So I absorb wisdom wherever I can find it – in fact, when I give sermons or keynote speeches, I will often incorporate lessons I’ve learned from 12 step philosophy.

Politics

While I consider myself a liberal democrat, there are times I get so angry when I experience different liberal organizations that can’t work together and too many egos working against each other—whereas the Republicans have unity on their side.  That is why we don’t have what we want, we often lack unity or the sense of the greater good, the bigger picture.  I started speaking out for LGBT issues because it is the last stand of civil rights.  As an Asian woman, I know what it’s like to be discriminated against for my gender and my race.  The first time I performed my stand-up comedy act in Provincetown Massachusetts, which is a gay community in Cape Cod, I have to say that I never felt more recognized and appreciated and understood as an artist.  My stand up routine is a satire on racism and sexism—I wanted to show how absurd all bigotry is.  The gay community in Provincetown really understand what I’m doing, because they know what it is like to be outcast, discriminated against, and oppressed.  They understand that my routine is social commentary.

Do you worry about your career because you are such a strong voice for social justice?

I never worry that this will hurt my career—worry does not fit into my philosophy—worry and fear are negative projections into the future, and they don’t help me create what I want.  When I have worried or have been fearful in the past, I became a magnet for the very circumstances I didn’t want.  I operate from a place of abundance, equal rights, and generosity.  I choose faith and kindness, not pessimism and fear.  I’m not saying that I don’t get angry – I get very angry, but the question is, what do I do with that anger?  Does it spark me to take positive action?   It does no good to let my anger fester or bathe in it, sitting on my couch, complaining.  I also channel my anger into writing my comedy material.  I would like people to see my Sung Hee Park act and have them leave thinking:  “Hmm.  Am I a racist?  Am I a homophobe?”  I want to challenge people’s beliefs.  I love this quote from Plato:  “Time will change or even reverse some of your present opinions.  Refrain therefore awhile, from holding yourself up as a judge of the highest matters.”

Do you think we will see full marriage equality in our lifetime?

Absolutely!  (She says with great confidence.)  I think it could have happened much sooner if we were all on the same page and could have put aside individual egos.  We tend to lose sight of the bigger picture, when we get caught up in the in-fighting about exactly how to take action or when to take action.

Why do you suppose more celebrities don’t use their fame and influence for issues around social justice?

 

I can’t answer for them, but I would guess that some people are just not passionate about issues of social justice, maybe they have fear about what it might do to their careers, or maybe they just don’t want to enter into controversy.  But it’s not for us for us to judge someone else’s journey!

—————————————————————–

I want to thank Suzanne Whang for her time, generosity, and for being an amazing ally to the LGBT community.  Suzanne emanates such love and compassion—what an amazing soul and agent of change.

 

Whang concluded the interview with the following:

Hopi Indian poem “We Are the Ones We’ve Been Waiting For”

The Hopi Elders Speak

We Are the Ones

We’ve Been Waiting For

You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.

Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.

And there are things to be considered:

Where are you living?

What are you doing?

What are your relationships?

Are you in right relation?

Where is your water?

Know your garden.

It is time to speak your Truth.

Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look

outside yourself for the leader.

This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift

that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the

shore. They will feel they are being torn apart, and they will suffer greatly.

Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go

of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open,

and our heads above the water. See who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally. Least

of all, ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and

journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!

Banish the word struggle from your attitude and your vocabulary.

All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

—The Elders Oraibi

Arizona Hopi Nation

Update:

My husband and I started watching Ron Howard’s Arrested Development.  What a fantastic surprise to see Suzanne Whang as a guest star in Season 4.  Her comdeic talents are brilliant in her satiric role in Real Asian Prison Housewives.  I would have watched this show just to see Whang who is hilarious.

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