Letter to LGBT youth, continued.

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For you,

Happy Pride month!

I saw an article recently with an old black and white photograph of Main Street in L.A. in 1959 with signs posted in a donut shop that said, “Fagots-Stay Out” (not my spelling or sentiment!), and though there is a surge in the US right now to create laws granting religious “freedom” and rights to NOT serve LGBT people in their business establishments, I still wish to take stock. That Donut shop in 1959 was the scene of a gay riot that lasted a day, where trans and gay people fought the police and establishment for treating them like second class citizens. Ten years later we had the Stonewall riots in New York, which of course was the birth of the Pride movement and a time of transformation. Even since then, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people have flourished, come out, earned the right to legally marry in a number of countries, can legally adopt in others, and in Canada can’t be fired for being LGBT, though I’m sure it happens and is disguised as something else, trust me, I know that story all too well. As a lesbian actor, it has been the thing that directors, producers and casting directors can keep me out of the room for, and will not bring me in to audition because of. It’s a much bigger story than that, but it is still alive and well in the film and television world. So I say to all the youth out there who are struggling with identity and to all who have come before us, thank you for your bravery and for continuing to push toward the mountain top, for agitating and demonstrating in the 1950s, 1960s, through the AIDS crisis, and into this century with human rights cases and legal challenges across the globe. We have come a long way…and this is our month to celebrate before we get out there to continue to try and change the world so that each new generation can look back and take stock, can take strength in knowing that we do make a difference and that we are making history with our own lives. Congrats to all our ancestors who fought for us, who rioted, and to my generation (including myself because I have been on the front lines during a lot of marches, demos, speeches and rallies and I see how important it has been. I have been tossed down the legislative buildings by police officers wearing rubber gloves while my comrades were beaten, but we changed the laws). I wish the same could be same for countries where it is illegal to be LGBT, where people are murdered and thrown in prison, but that day will come.

To the generations that follow, you are amazing young people and we need you to keep up the work. But yes, if you can, celebrate who we are this month! We deserve a little fun to go along with the work. We need a little fun to balance out the hard times.

With love and happy pride to all,

Joanne

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