I didn’t plan it that way, but the last four celebrities I’ve interviewed have all been gay. I find it interesting that I even say that because I certainly don’t say “Oh, the last 12 people I’ve interviewed have been heterosexual.”
But I say it happily because with every ounce of my being I believe in every human being’s right to love and be loved by whoever they choose. I believe everyone should have the same benefits that come with being legally married, and the same opportunity to be parents, often times to kids who would otherwise languish in the foster care system.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, LGBT History Month, and National Bullying Prevention Month, and Melissa Etheridge, who is a breast cancer survivor and a lesbian, as well as an incredible musician, singer, and outspoken environmental activist, was the perfect person to interview.
Getting Up Close and Personal with Melissa Etheridge was amazing. I am a huge fan of her music, and I respect and admire her outspokenness about the damage the corporations and we ourselves are doing to the environment. I love that she wrote and sang the Academy Award winning song “I Need to Wake Up” for the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. During my conversation with Melissa her heart was open, she was self-reflective, and she had some profound things to say about a lot of subjects.
“For the past 25 years my motto has been ‘Speak True,’ and I’ve made my choices according to that. It’s important for me to be impeccable with my word because that’s all you have. Sometimes that leads you to places where you have to deal with the truth that you and others don’t always want to hear”.
- Melissa Etheridge
Life Lesson: Each of us needs to pull the weeds and tend to the flowers in our own backyard. We are each entitled to believe what we want as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else. Gays getting married doesn’t hurt me. My having an abortion doesn’t hurt you. These are two important issues that will be decided at the voting booths next month. What a beautiful world it would be if each of us pulled the weeds (and didn’t use Monsanto’s Roundup) and tended to the flowers in our own backyard.
“If your neighbor has a completely different view on abortion, gay marriage, stem cell research, all of those things, you still are both Americans. Neither one of you is necessarily more patriotic than the other. Neither loves their country any more than the other one does.”
- Phil McGraw
In September I had the chance to get Up Close and Personal with Carson Kressley, who was the fashion expert on the hit reality show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (2003-2007), Carson Nation on the Oprah Winfrey Network (2011), and last year a contestant on Dancing With the Stars. Carson is hysterically funny and so is his interview, but he also was very real and showed a serious side of himself.
“I grew up filled with grief, worry and despair because I had this big dark dirty secret, and I thought the people I cared about wouldn’t love me because of this ‘affliction.’ I was bullied in school, and the best thing about being on “Queer Eye” wasn’t wining an Emmy or being on Oprah, but when kids said the show was the first gay subject matter that allowed them and their parents to have a dialogue. Whether you’re the tallest, or the only Chinese girl or gay guy in the class, being different can be a good thing. I’m proud I’ve been able to help young people embrace their individuality and not do anything desperate.”
- Carson Kressley
In August I got Up Close and Personal with Suze Orman, the money maven who has helped millions of people become fiscally responsible and financially free. What fascinating and revealing stories she told and great advice she gave.
“Gay marriage needs to be legalized on the federal level because marriage at the state level still gives us no rights financially or medically. KT and I have been together 12 years and there’s something radically wrong with the fact that although we pay lots in taxes and have multi-millions of dollars in each of our names, when one of us dies the surviving partner will have to pay 50% in estate taxes, whereas if we were legally married we wouldn’t have to pay a penny.”
- Suze Orman
And in July I got Up Close and Personal with Dave Koz, jazz saxophonist extraordinaire who also has his own Koz line of wine. Dave is one of the nicest guys, but he too is tired of a society that feels it’s okay to discriminate.
“I have no tolerance for inequality. Our political system is so broken, and the feeling of helplessness that it’s never going to change, is depressing. I think it’s wrong for one group of human beings to have rights that another group doesn’t. I say that as a gay man who wants to be able to marry someone if I choose to. The fact that people are still espousing beliefs that are so blatantly unequal pisses me off. You can probably count the men in the music world who are out on two hands, which is why I did a music video in support of marriage equality called This Guy’s In Love With You.”
- Dave Koz
What an eclectic group of diversely brilliant people who talked about many things besides gay rights. They shared heart-warming stories about their childhoods and careers, their passions, their strengths and weaknesses. All the interviews are very insightful.
And then this morning my friend Nancy Golden, whose son is interior decorator and former daytime TV talk show host Nate Berkus, posted a video on Facebook of Sally Field accepting the “Ally for Equality Award” given to her by the Human Rights Campaign and it brought me to tears.
Sally’s youngest son Sam presented her with the award. Sam is gay. And Sally is well, Sam’s proud mom. I love when art imitates life or life imitates art.
My favorite TV show was ABC’s hit Brothers & Sisters. I watched it each week and I wanted to crawl through the screen and be part of that family. With all their differences and squabbles they were there for each other. One son went off to war, one son was gay, one daughter was Republican and then there was Sally Field, the liberal Democrat who loved all her children equally and unconditionally. In real life Sally is the same kind of mom.
And while we’re on the subject of gay rights, let me throw in for good measure that I also loved getting Up Close and Personal with Kristin Chenoweth the incredibly talented TV, movie and Broadway actress who at 4’11″ stands tall like a giant and speaks out about intolerance with such conviction.
“Make no mistake, I am a Christian and I believe in God, and I don’t believe he makes mistakes. So I don’t believe being gay is a sin, and in fact it’s how you’re made.”
- Kristin Chenoweth
Life Lesson: I don’t believe we need more tolerance of gays which implies that there is something that is intolerant about them. I think it would be better if we learned to accept that we are all different, unique in some way and that’s okay. Do you want a garden that only has daisies in it or do you want a garden filled with a profusion of different colors and species of flowers – azaleas, baby’s breathe, black-eyed Susan, roses, lilies, orchids, tulips – each different yet all beautiful in their own way.
October may be National Bullying Prevention Month, but let’s take a stand and say that we will not tolerate hatred, intolerance, and bullying in whatever form it raises its ugly head.