More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Ten Famous Allies Who Came Out for Equality in 2012
Our straight allies can be some of the most effective and powerful voices in the LGBT movement. Particularly for those in the public eye, allies can lead by example to help others understand that the LGBT community is just as deserving of equality, fairness, acceptance and mutual respect. And in 2012, quite a few famous faces came out as allies of the LGBT community to tremendous effect. Here are ten of our favorite notable quotes from celebrities and public figures that spoke up for LGBT equality in 2012.
If there’s one person whose voice did the most to further equality this year, it was undoubtedly President Barack Obama. In a historic move, President Obama announced his support for full marriage equality in a May 9 interview with Good Morning America’s Robin Roberts when he said, “[…] at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married." In doing so, he became the first acting President to voice support for marriage equality. He didn’t stop there, however. Obama further announced in a White House statement to the Washington Blade in August that he “[…] opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation” in regards to the Boy Scouts' ban on gay scouts and leaders. Watch the video of his Good Morning America interview below.
Country music star Carrie Underwood announced her support for marriage equality in a June interview with the U.K.’s The Independent. She said, “As a married person myself, I don't know what it's like to be told I can't marry somebody I love and want to marry. I can't imagine how that must feel. I definitely think we should all have the right to love, and love publicly, the people that we want to love.” Following some fan backlash GLAAD launched the #supportcarrie Twitter campaign to show support and thanks for speaking out.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo has been a vocal supporter of LGBT equality for years, but received national attention for it this fall when he participated in the Maryland campaign for marriage equality and Emmett C. Burns, a member of the state’s House of Delegates, asked the Ravens owner to silence Ayanbadejo. Minnesota Viking punter Chris Kluwe, also an outspoken advocate who worked with Minnesotans for Equality to defeat a constitutional amendment that would ban marriage for gay couples, responded to Burns in a letter that went viral, saying, “[…]You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails.”
Grammy Award-winning rapper Jay-Z spoke out in favor of marriage equality in a May interview with CNN, during which he praised President Obama’s support. He described the president's stance on marriage equality as “the right thing to do as a human being,” and said that to deny marriage to same-sex couples is “discrimination, plain and simple.” Speaking about the fact that marriage for gay and lesbian couples is not currently recognized nationwide, he said, “I’ve always thought it as something that's still holding the country back.” Jay-Z traveled to several campaign stops with Obama to raise support for his re-election and he and wife Beyonce held several fundraisers to benefit the campaign. Watch his CNN interview below.
Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Bruce Springsteen also threw his support behind Obama this year and performed at campaign stops in Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin. Springsteen allowed his 2009 blog post supporting marriage equality to be used in social media content for The Four 2012, an organization dedicated to supporting marriage equality ballot measures in Washington, Maryland, Maine and Minnesota. In the original post Springsteen said, “I've long believed in and have always spoken out for the rights of same-sex couples and fully agree with Governor Corzine when he writes that, 'The marriage-equality issue should be recognized for what it truly is -- a civil rights issue that must be approved to assure that every citizen is treated equally under the law.' I couldn't agree more with that statement and urge those who support equal treatment for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to let their voices be heard now.”
Breakout TLC reality star Alana Thompson, better known as Honey Boo Boo, said on her show Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, “Ain’t nothing wrong with bein’ a little gay. Everybody’s a little gay.” Thompson’s out Uncle Lee Thompson (“Uncle Poodle”) and the rest of the family participated in Spirit Day on October 19. GLAAD posted an exclusive video of Lee speaking about being bullied for growing up gay in the South and Alana posted a picture to the official Honey Boo Boo Facebook captioned, “You can’t change the way you are or who you fell in love with… we support Uncle Poodle and all the other poodles in the world too.”
First Lady Michelle Obama answered Twitter fan questions in a YouTube video posted this June and addressed the issue of marriage equality. She affirmed her husband’s support and added, “For Barack and me, it really comes down to the values of fairness and equality that we want to pass down to our girls. […] And in a country where we teach our children that everyone is equal under the law, discriminating against same-sex couples just isn’t right.” Watch the video below.
Josh Hutcherson, star of The Hunger Games, was honored this year as the youngest person ever to receive GLAAD’s Vanguard Award, which is presented to media professionals who, through their work, have increased the visibility and understanding of the LGBT community. He is the co-founder of ally organization Straight But Not Narrow and co-starred as the son of a lesbian couple in The Kids Are All Right which received a GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Film – Wide Release in 2010. “I think that the most beautiful thing a human being can do is just be who you are inside,” Hutcherson said as he accepted the award in Los Angeles, “So please, everybody, just be yourselves and encourage everyone else to do the same.” Watch Hutcherson’s full acceptance speech below.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke out about his support for marriage equality in a May interview with NBC’s Meet the Press. He said, “ […]I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual men marrying women are entitled to the same exact rights... I think Will & Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody has done so far.” Check out the clip of Biden speaking below.
Grammy nominated indie rock band fun. had a huge year as allies to the LGBT community. The group appeared at the San Francisco GLAAD Media Awards; launched The Ally Coalition, a non-profit dedicated to inspiring people to action in the movement for LGBT equality; went on 10-stop Campus Consciousness Tour focused on mobilizing college students to actively support LGBT equality; guitarist Jack Antonoff wrote a Huffington Post op-ed about the importance of being an ally and appeared in HRC’s American’s for Marriage Equality Campaign in which he said “Touring around the country, my bandmates and I are completely blown away by the love and support we get from our fans, and it’s completely insane to us that some of them aren’t afforded the same rights simply because they’re gay or lesbian.” Watch fun. at the GLAAD Media Awards below.
Those are a few of the names who will have well deserved reputations as allies of the LGBT community moving forward, but there were also a number of longtime celebrity allies that reaffirmed their support this year as well. Spirit Day saw millions of people going purple to a stand against bullying and stand up for LGBT youth including Spirit Day ambassadors Dianna Agron, Avan Jogia, Wendy Williams, Maria Menounos, Shaquille O’Neal and Shay Mitchell, Max Adler, Ben Cohen, Bernadette Peters, William Shatner, Joan Rivers, Reba McEntire, Henry Winkler, the casts of ABC’s Malibu Country, CBS’ Elementary, TeenNick’s Degrassi and all major sports leagues. Zac Efron, Madonna, Daniel Radcliffe and Adam Levine all spoke out in support of marriage equality. The American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) held a star-studded one-night-only production of Dustin Lance Black’s 8, a play that tells the story of the historic Proposition 8 trial, in Los Angeles that featured allies such as George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Martin Sheen, Jamie Lee Curtis, Matthew Morrison, John C. Reilly, Kevin Bacon and Christine Lahti. The entire play is available to watch on the AFER YouTube channel. Sally Field received the Human Rights Campaign’s Ally for Equality Award and gave a touching speech about her son. And previous HRC Ally Award recipient Anne Hathaway donated proceeds from the sale of her wedding pictures to marriage equality organizations. Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal), longtime ally and recipient of GLAAD's Golden Gate Award for being a media professional who has made a significant difference in promoting LGBT equality, recently responded to a fan who asked why she features LGBT characters and stories on her series. Rhimes said, "[...]As long as we are willing to sit by while one person is not free, none of us are free. And FINALLY: because as long as someone feels like it is okay to ask the question "why all the gay people on your shows", then there is still a HUGE problem that needs to be solved." GLAAD thanks allies, old and new, for adding their voices to the conversation and recognizing the importance of equality.