On Sunday, Aug. 5, filmmakers Renee Sotile and Mary Jo Godges covered a fundraiser in Malibu where stars and politicos talked about bullying, bisexuality and President Obama. Among the 200-plus guests at Women who GLSEN were honoree Congressmember Linda Sanchaz, Miss California 2012 Natalie Pack, Emmy and Golden Globe Winner Brenda Vaccaro, TV actress Kearren Giovanni (Major Crimes, which premiers after The Close finale on Aug. 13) and reality star Rose Garcia (The Real L Word).
Giovanni, who attended the event with her gay Major Crimes co-stars Jonathan Del Arco and Phillip Keene, discussed being bullied:
[Kids like myself have] gone through a different kind of bulling - with not being black enough or being too black or being too this and too that and living in a completely different world than what I was used to for most of my childhood. For us, there's a sense that - and our African American President - of saying, 'This has been done to us. So God forbid it be done to someone else.' And there is I feel a really great connection between the African American community and the gay and lesbian, transgender community."
Jonathan Del Arco thinks there's been a spike in suicides because a lot of kids are coming out earlier:
They feel safe, they see gay - and I play a gay character on TV - they see gay characters on TV and in reality shows and think, 'Hey, it's OK to be gay. I can be - gender identity, as well is a big issue....But it also makes them bigger targets because they're more themselves earlier on. So the responsibility of the parents gets higher - and the educator - so I think the burden has to be shared by everybody.
Also at the fundraiser were Reality stars Rose Garcia and Romi Klinger from The Real L Word and Krisily Kennedy from The Bachelor who shed some light on bisexuality:
Since I've come out as bisexual it's been a really big deal and I've gotten a lot of flack from both sides. So being 32 and getting bullied is a little bit different than being in high school and getting bullied and I feel like the kids in high school, they don't have the outlets I have. So, for me, it's important to keep coming to these events and talk about my sexuality, as well as everyone else's, so that someone somewhere gets some sort of comfort for what they have and who they are.
Romi Klinger: "Being on the show with the bisexuality being part of my story - it's interesting to see how the community has reacted even to me and how were still fighting for acceptance within the community."
Rose Garcia: "It's like coming out all over again. I'm one of the biggest lesbians out there and I had to come to her defense."
Rose is also a role model for young Hispanics:
For me, a lot of Hispanic kids reach out for acceptance. A lot of them get bullied by their family members because it's culturally not the right thing, especially coming from a Catholic background. But they saw that my 77 year old grandmother and my father and mother accepted me and it gives them a little bit of hope.
Sotile and Godges report that the overall theme of the event was that "it's not OK to stand by and watch someone being picked on."
Natalie Pack, Miss California 2012, talks about supporting the LGBT community - a far cry from antigay Carrie Prejean just three years ago. "In Miss California USA when I competed there were 2 open lesbian contestants. So I think it's great to see that even contestants in a beauty pageant feel now ok to compete. It's just a changing world and it's changing for the better," Pack said.
Actress Brittany Ishibashi (Political Animals), who presented Sanchaz with her award, talked about the struggle to form a Gay Straight Alliance at her high school in Orange County because the school district and a lot of the parents were against it. (This is the famous successful Lambda Legal case Anthony Colin vs Orange Unified School District). LA City Controller Wendy Greuel, a candidate to be the next mayor of LA, said: "We need to instill in our children that it is important to stand up for somebody else and stand up and make sure that no one is in a situation where they're bullied."
This would set a federal national standard in every school district in every state....at least it will provide that minimum level of security for kids and parents to let them know that this kind of behavior won't be tolerated in school and build the anti bullying curriculum from there.
Also attending the fundraiser was the indomitable Brenda Vaccara who didn't even bother trying to contain herself, calling Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney a "Mormon Bully" and expressed enthusiastic support for the Democratic Party adding marriage equality to their platform: "Let's stand up for it, stand on it, and go 'Hooray!'"
Sanchez said she is working to pass the federal Safe School Improvements Act for several years now: