Open letters seem to be a hot trend right now, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and give you a little piece of my mind.
Sixteen years ago you publicly came out of the closet and played out some of your real-life experiences on my favorite sitcom “Ellen.” In doing so, you exposed us all to your controversial lifestyle and introduced gay issues into the plot-lines. You even dared to kiss Laura Dern on prime time television. And not on the cheek either. On the lips.
I realize it’s a little belated, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to publicly express my concern regarding your bold display.
Do you really think we were ready for that? Do you have any idea what kind of impact that has had on North American society and beyond?
Same sex couples are now getting married, for heaven’s sake. Coming out of the closet has apparently become easier for many homosexuals. And what really amazes me is how most people I know don’t even care if a man is with a man, or a woman is with a woman.
Do you think this is good? Do you seriously think accepting and embracing differences in one another, and encouraging people to live and let live is somehow helpful to our world? Because I sure as heck do.
You changed my life when you did what you did, Ellen. Not because I’m gay – I’m not. But because you showed a fearlessness that was so brave and beautiful, I literally had tears in my eyes as I knew it was going to have a profound impact on humanity. Thank you. In that moment you made me see how influential a person could be by simply sharing themselves honestly, and with humor.
I understand things weren’t smooth sailing for you after that, and millions of people were so threatened by homosexuality and its perceived contribution to the moral decay of society that many of them aimed their fear-based attacks at you. At the time I couldn’t imagine how that must have felt, nor understand how awful it would be to be hated by complete strangers for simply being yourself and standing up for something you believed in. But I get it now.
Six weeks ago, for International Go Topless Day and Women’s Equality Day, I wrote a column and made a video in support of women having the constitutional right to go topless wherever men can go topless. While I received a tremendous amount of support, I also received an astounding number of negative reactions from people all over the world, some so vile and misogynistic it was shocking.
I’m a sensitive person by nature, so it’s taken me years to thicken my skin. I hate to admit this, but it’s not quite as thick as it needs to be yet, and I had to channel your courage in some of my weaker moments.
I’d like to thank you for that, and for continuing to help change the world and make it a happier, healthier, funnier place to live.
I made a video specifically directed at you. Some will cringe and accuse me of shameless self-promotion when they watch it. But that’s okay. I refuse to feel shame about promoting something, or someone, I believe in.
I also wanted to write this letter so I could publicly wish you a happy sweet 16th anniversary of your coming out. Thankfully for us you’ve stayed out.
Keep dancing to the beat of your own drum, Ellen. I will too, even though I have no rhythm.
Lori Welbourne is a syndicated columnist. Her videos and columns can be found at LoriWelbourne.com