Following the tragic series of highly publicized suicides of youth linked to their actual and/or perceived sexual orientation last year, Dan Savage pioneered the launch of a series of videos that continue to provide us with amazing messages of affirmation and hope shared by everyday people to the President of the United States.
Last week, I was especially proud when my dear friend Brian shared with me the "It Gets Better" video featuring a number of CBS's LGBT employees, with Brian being included in the cast of employees to let our LGBT youth know that "it gets better."
I met Brian in late 1992, months after I moved to Los Angeles and was struggling with the all too common emotional abandonment and rejection after telling my family I was gay. Brian was that friend and surrogate brother who affirmed, embraced, loved, and nurtured me to be proud of who I am and not to succumb to the bigotry and hatred in this world stemming from sexual orientation. He reassured me that I should not live in the closet - and he showed me how to hold my ground on the dance floor and celebrate our inner-being while gyrating about under the spinning mirrored ball. To this day, he's been one of those people in my life who has helped fan my internal flame to fight social injustice.
Back in those days, at age 22, I was incredibly naïve to the entertainment world and couldn't tell you who was singing a particular tune, including our community's infamous torch song melodies. I could be standing next to a mega-celebrity and wouldn't know who they were or their accomplishments and contributions.
There certainly were a number of awkward yet amusing moments like when Brian took me backstage after a concert to meet Donna Summer. For poor Brian, back in the day, I struggled to distinguish the difference between divas like Barbra Streisand and Bette Midler or Donna Summer and Diana Ross - I adored them all and still do to this day. There was another occasion when Brian courageously invited me as his guest to attend the premiere of the movie Gettysburg. During the intermission, I walked up to a strikingly tall beautiful woman to simply ask her where the men's room was.
Brian immediately sunk to the floor in disbelief and horror as Jane Fonda embraced my arm with both her hands, and without hesitation, excused herself from crowd of several of Hollywood's bigwigs who were paying homage. She escorted me out to the lobby and with the most beautiful smile, pointed and said that she believed it was over there, on the left, since her husband, Ted Turner, had to use the restroom and went that way. While I'm hoping Jane Fonda was flattered to have been thought of as an ordinary everyday person for the moment, she must have thought how tragic for a gay man to not recognize her.
Brian, as humble as you continue to be, thank you for your continued friendship and sharing your passion to end the discrimination against LGBT people. You inspire me and help fuel my internal flame to engage in the fight for social justice. All these years, especially in my darkest days, you have taught me that it gets better indeed.