Tag Archives: LGBT visibility

LGBT History Month 2013: Miriam Margolyes

10 Jun

Miriam-MargolyesToday it is my pleasure to honor Miriam Margolyes during LGBT History Month.  I did not know our Miriam identified as lesbian until I saw her on the Graham Norton show with will.i.am.

I have been in love with Miriam Margolyes for decades now.  Some of her most notable movie roles for me have been: Mrs. Beetle in Cold Comfort Farm, a cult classic that I highly recommend; Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach; Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter Series; and Gertrude Stein in Modigliani.  Of course, I have to acknowledge how wonderful it was to learn that Dumbledore from Harry Potter was gay.

Margolyes recalls coming out to her mother. “I really came to terms with things in 1967. I was in my late 20s. I spoke to her about an affair with a woman and three days later she had this stroke,” she reported four years ago to BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.  She came out much more publicly and casually on the Graham Norton Show in 2012.  I want to say a huge thank you to Miriam Margolyes for coming and being visible.  Her celebrity and visibility help the world understand that we LGBT folk are everywhere!

Margolyes talks at length about “wanting to make a difference in the world in her lifetime,” and she most certainly is.  Not only is she entertaining us all, but she is making a huge difference by being an out lesbian. After outing herself on Graham Norton, she added that by being visible, “…it gives one courage.”  Here she is on Graham Norton. Earthy, charming, and outspoken, she’s happy discussing her health regimen or correcting someone’s grammar while all the time being honest and delightful.

National Coming Out Day: Why This Year Matters Even More Than Ever

11 Oct

National Coming Out Day

October 11 marks National Coming Out Day.  For those of you who had any questions regarding my sexual orientation, allow me to put all questions to rest.  I’m a very proud gay man.  One might ask, so what? Why announce it? Why do I insist on being so visible? Why do we need a National Coming Out Day?

I cannot underscore enough the importance of being out and visible.  The more visible we are as a community, the more difficult it is to marginalize us and treat us as sub-human, or second class citizens, denied over a 1,000 rights that our heterosexual brothers and sisters are granted just for being heterosexual.

This year it matters more than ever. The presidential election shows a stark divide. On one hand we have a party of incremental progress led by a President who has done more for the LGBT community than all his predecessors put together; on the other, a mendacious chameleon who signs pledges to use tax dollars to defend DOMA and to REVOKE civil rights for the LGBT community leading a party whose platform is even more aggressive and inhuman. This isn’t a matter of “single issue voting,” it is a matter of basic human rights and dignity. How can anyone — regardless of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, gender, or sexual orientation — place their faith in a candidate and a party who have proved that American citizens don’t matter, only power and privilege. If you know and love ANYONE who is LGBT — and trust me, you do — a vote for Romney and the Republicans is a fundamental betrayal of what this country stands for.

Wednesday Word of the Week, November 16: Acceptance

16 Nov

Young Mayor Accepted as Hometown Hero

This week’s word is ACCEPTANCE

general agreement that something is true, reasonable, or cannot be changed; the fact of allowing someone to become part of a group or community and making them feel welcome — Macmillan Dictionary Online

As we noted on TSM last week, a large number of LGBT candidates were elected to public office on November 8. One Massachusetts winner has received national press. What is interesting is what has and has not been integral to much of that attention.

Alex Morse, 22, will be the youngest mayor in America when he takes office. CBS News devoted a two-and-a-half minute segment to his election. They naturally focused on his youth and the fact that he ousted an incumbent despite his lack of experience. What didn’t come up at all in the interview was the fact that Morse is openly gay.

That may be due in part to it never being an issue during the campaign. Morse is comfortably out and certainly did nothing to hide from the electorate. His public accomplishments include founding a GSA at his high school and working for a number of LGBT causes. Somehow, these accomplishments were simply accepted as part of his qualifications. Delightfully, his opponent did nothing to demonize him because of his sexual orientation.

As the New Civil Rights points out, however, Massachusetts is not Mississippi. One successful candidate whose sexual orientation is a non-issue is not a national trend. Still, it is promising to see that this is possible. Let us hope that unlike CBS, the mayor-elect will not be reticent about acknowledging his orientation. Hooray for Holyoke, but LGBT Americans everywhere need to see what’s possible.

Broader acceptance is only possible when accomplishments like Morse’s are made widely known. Visibility leads to acceptance; let’s not allow one moment of acceptance to lead to invisibility.

Hero of the Week Award: November 11, LGBT Candidates

11 Nov

Heroes of the Week

This week at least 53 out and proud members of the LGBT community were elected to public office all over the United States. In offices ranging from school boards to state assemblies, over 70% of the candidates endorsed by the Victory Fund were successful in Tuesday’s elections. While we can be grateful that so many voters are increasingly finding the sexual orientation of their candidates a non-issue, the true heroes are the candidates who put themselves out there.

What is truly heartening is that the winners were from all over the country, including places not renowned for their progressive politics like Charlotte, NC and Missoula, MT. They won by being strong candidates, representing the breadth of issues their consituents care about. (The new mayor of Holyoke, MA, for example, 22-year-old Alex Morse, is a gay man who primarily campainged as an opponent of casinos.) The very fact of their visibility in their communities helps shape the perceptions that their constituents hold, breaking down stereotypes and making it harder to view the LGBT community as some monolithic “other.” Visibility is power, and these candidates, successful and unsuccessful, deserve our thanks for being visible. Given the ugly, intrusive nature of 21st Century campaigning, they risked potentially nasty personal attacks to pursue their goals of public service. Their victories are shared by us all, moving our community forward.  The hypocritical irony of the political system is not lost.  These wonderful newly elected civil servants work in a system that denies them their civil rights!

For more information on the results and the amazing array of winners, visit GayPolitics.

I also have to give an honorable mention to Kevin Epling, father of Matt Epling.  Kevin did a video outlining the horrific discrimination in Michigan.  Click here to see his video.

Jane Lynch and Visibility

19 Sep

Cheers to Jane Lynch

While it is true that we don’t watch much television in our home, we actually did try to watch the Emmys last night. What motivated us to watch the show was that Modern Family received many nominations (the one show we do watch every Wednesday) and that openly gay Jane Lynch was hosting.

I have loved Jane Lynch since she starred in the Christopher Guest mocumentary, Best in Show.  I also loved her in the unfortunately very short lived Love Spring International, which was brilliantly done. While hosting the Emmys, Lynch made reference to her being lesbian no less than three times.  This is a huge deal and I was exceedingly proud of her. Any other host of any other award show is always presumed to be heterosexual, regardless if this is an accurate presumption or not.  Lynch’s openly talking about herself and her wife increases the visibility of the LGBT community and says to the millions of viewers that we are here, we look like and act like the rest of the population of the world, which I hope makes it much more difficult to continue to marginalize us.

Points to Lynch for showing great social courage and integrity for not only hosting the Emmys but putting herself out there for all to see. I also had to tip my hat to Ms. Lynch for her wit and calling out the Teahaddists:

Yesterday, my daughter had a tea party with her little friends, and it was so cute. They complained about taxes, called Obama a Communist, and wondered how the Latina kid got in.

For me, that was probably the best part of the entire show. However, I do worry some that Lynch revealed secrets about the Gay Agenda on national television.

Not only did Lynch help to show the world that us LGBT folk are just like everyone else, well perhaps we are a bit better dressed and a bit more witty, but the fact that Modern Family, picked up so many awards also helps to show fear-based bigots that we cannot and will not be as easily marginalized as we once were.  In an interview after the Emmys, Ty Burell, who won Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy, said this:

…it feels very very good to be on a show that seems to be changing a lot of minds … it’s a great thing to peripherally go to events and talk to family and have people talk about the characters the same way they talk about other characters.

Julie Bowen, who won Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy, added:

To me, it’s absurd that it is an issue, but in that it is an issue, I’m glad that we’re helping to change minds.

These are the heterosexual allies we need!  Lynch and the cast of Modern Family help to show that LGBT people  really we are just like all other human beings.  We come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and colors, and religious backgrounds.

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