Have you heard the news?
“What news?” I hear you ask.
Is it that Ricky Martin came out as gay this week? Nope. As a matter of interest though, many of the reactions I’ve heard or read have been: “Better late than never, but who gives a damn?” Well folks in Nepal apparently do as they hope it will encourage more of their celebrities to come out. Read more about that here. It’s also been described as a “game changer” for Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) children. Read about that here.
Is it the results of a Vanity Fair/60 Minutes sponsored survey that found that half of respondents would support an openly gay president and even more would support a gay secretary of state? No, that’s not the news I’m talking about, either.
This week, the blogosphere and entertainment world erupted with this revelation. But this news, this earth-shattering, orbit-wrenching, never-heard-anything-like-it news, was brought to the public with a larger goal in mind than just filling column inches or web space.
Anna Paquin, who is engaged to her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, disclosed her sexuality for a new campaign called Give a Damn, that also features Clay Aiken, Jason Mraz, Whoopi Goldberg, Elton John and a host of other high profiled LGBTs and straight advocates.
Launched by Cyndi Lauper and her True Colors fund, along with several LGBT organizations including The Trevor Project, the campaign is aimed at everyone who cares about equality, but it’s particularly hoping to empower straight advocates and encourage more people to get involved in the fight for LGBT equality. More on that below. First, here’s the PSA featuring Anna Paquin:
The site, www.wegiveadamn.org, has a plethora of information to engage, excite, provoke and provide LGBTs and straight advocates with the resources they need to stay informed and get involved in the equality movement.
The website has sections specifically dedicated to a variety of LGBT issues. Click through to take a look (please be aware that their servers have been temperamental, so if the page is down, please check back later):
These sections are backed by specific LGBT charities and campaign groups with the hope of providing easily digestible information for straight advocates so as to introduce them to the issues that LGBTs face, to empower them with that information, and to connect them to charities and campaign groups that can help them directly get involved with the push for equality.
The Give a Damn campaign also encourages LGBTs and straight advocates to share their own stories in its Personal Stories section. It covers all the above categories, and, for instance, encourages LGBTs to share if they have been a victim of workplace discrimination or have had to struggle with health care costs because of the fact that the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriages, or have been turned away without treatment because of their gender identity.
One story caught my eye in the workplace discrimination section. It starts “I give a DAMN about equality… ONE of my daughters is gay.” The writer goes on to compare all the things that her two other daughters can do that her one lesbian daughter can not, whether due to a lack of legal recognition or the social stigma still attached to being a member of the LGBT community. It’s powerful and moving. Read it here.
Now, I’ll hold my hands up. I was being a little bit flippant before about the way that Paquin’s sexuality has been sensationalized, but really, if the serious message about this project gets hitched onto the gossip train, then great, what an outstanding marketing move. We might bemoan it, but celebrity sells, so why not put it to good use?
Of course, Paquin stating her bisexuality is important in and of itself in terms of visibility for bisexual people. You’re free, of course, to also say that, you know what, I don’t give a damn about “celebrities” and how they identify. In fact, that’s probably a good thing in that sexuality is not the talking point it once was.
But hopefully you will give a damn about the Give a Damn project because the fight for equality depends, not just on LGBT activists, but their straight allies too.
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