The guys over at Billboard are kicking off the Pride month of June with an awesome, heartstrings-tugging campaign. This is Billboard Love Letters to the LGBTQ Community. They’ve rounded up a whole host of pop culture icons to write letters of admiration and adoration for the LGBTQ community.
From Britney Spears to Sean Hayes and Miss Liza Minnelli herself… Check out a few of my favourites…
Iconoclastic artist and gay rights advocate Sia:
I remember the day someone forwarded me a video set to my song “breathe me” of a thirteen year old boy called Jonah Mowry. He was detailing his internal landscape as a young gay male in the world, and how depressed he was. I have been blessed to be surrounded by the queer community, in New York, in LA, where there is far more acceptance and positive self image, and so seeing him struggle was an important moment for me as a “human with the privilege of a platform”. In that moment I decided to dedicate myself to the queer community in a more meaningful way. I am so very grateful for my queer community and would have withered away long ago without them. Specifically my manager David, who has held my hand now for 12 years, through light and dark. He recently came out publicly as HIV positive, and the transformation of his shame into self acceptance has been magic to watch. I am so happy and proud of him. I can without question say I wouldn’t have made it without my queer friends, both personally and professionally, and I am forever grateful to God for creating them in all their glory.
Actor Sean Hayes, who starred on the pioneering TV series Will & Grace:
You know, I never really understood — nor took the time to realize — the impact I didn’t have by keeping my life to myself. Sure, it can be argued that one’s personal life is just that — personal — but I was helping all the hate and ignorance of the world by staying silent. I knew that everyone knew I was gay, but I hated the press hating me for not coming out on their terms. The only thing I could hold over them was not actually saying the words and it drove them crazy.
But now there is no personal battle. I’m proud when the words ‘gay’ or ‘queer’ are next to my name. Because it’s not about the press — it’s about all of us. It’s about the young LGBTQ kids in the world having a voice. And I realized they can have a voice — not because of a character I played on television who was gay — but because I’m gay and proud to say it, and proud to finally take the responsibility for it as well. No, I am not the singular voice for all gay people, but it brings me tremendous joy knowing that I am part of the chorus.
Singer, actress and gay rights advocate, Vanessa Williams:
Five people who attended my first wedding, in 1987, unfortunately died of AIDS. That’s not including friends from high school and beyond who met the same fate over the years. I had to start this letter off with a bang because these friends — my chosen family — meant the world to me and I miss them all very much.
The LGBTQ community has been an accepted part of my life since my childhood, where my parents embraced and encouraged gay friendships, as well as being inspired by the artistry and talents that were welcomed in our household. Of course, being involved in the arts practically my entire life, I slowly watched my closeted gay friends emerge from the silence, shame and fear of what being openly gay could bring, to the pride and confidence that I’ve witnessed in them as times changed.
Despite how hectic times may seem today, take a moment to thank the lives, stories and movements that allow the LGBTQ community to walk freely, marry joyously and dream the dreams that can now be a reality for everyone. Yes, there are always obstacles to confront and voices to ring out loud, so continue to show your presence, prove your worth and above all else: be fabulous! I love you all.
Singer and actress Nicole Scherzinger:
When I think of the LGBTQ community, I think of a community standing strong against adversity and a community that unites for change. Our differences are what make us special and should be celebrated, and done so with pride. Performing around the world, it’s the love, acceptance and this celebration through music that I connect to instantly in this community. They bring out the confidence in me — the diva within! An unapologetic strength, that I so deeply appreciate and admire. From day one, I have been embraced and accepted by your community and am truly thankful for that and only wish to support and lift you all as you have done for me.
We still have a long way to go, both in America and on a global scale, but “when we are born into a world that makes us feel like we don’t belong, it’s because we were born to help create a new one.” I pray that we all continue to work together, build each other up, and celebrate each other for our individual beauty because everyone has great purpose and should be encouraged and treated the same. Let’s be open and unite to become beacons of hope and examples of kindness and humanity. This letter comes from love, fierce admiration, and respect. Always remember to come from a place of love, or don’t come at all.
The MUTHA ICON; singer, actress and longtime advocate for gay rights and HIV/AIDS research, Liza Minnelli:
Where would I be without the LGBTQ community of dazzling souls who have always supported and understood me on a level that is unique and extraordinary? From my earliest memories I understood that some people were different, especially when I met so many of the creative people who were working on films made by my mother and father. In the ‘golden’ age of Hollywood, many could not be themselves in the workplace and live their true nature, yet it was their creativity that fashioned the dreams of Hollywood and the world. And they were my friends. I learned that ‘different’ meant many things: freedom, oppression, celebration, sadness, responsibility, hiding, protesting, sharing, but most of all being true to one’s self no matter the price.
Today I celebrate all the special people, past and present, who made it possible for me to be here and to be courageously different. Their examples have shaped me, and without them, my life would be empty. Happy and joyous Pride!
Singer and actress Idina Menzel, who originated the Broadway roles of Maureen in Rent and Elphaba in Wicked:
Happy Pride Month! To my LGBTQ friends and family, my mentors and collaborators, and all those whom I have yet to meet: You are the real Elphabas and Elsas and Maureens of this world. You are the courageous heroes who have showed the rest of us what it means to be true and honest and stand up for each other — and to love that very thing about ourselves that might set us apart from others.
Day after day, I aspire to be as brilliant and brave as you are. Thank you for guiding me through my life, for supporting me and teaching me the right time to scream and dance — to love, sing, fight, forgive, and laugh. So much laughter. I will always be here standing with you.
No Day But Today.
Out-and-proud pop singer and rock wailer Adam Lambert:
I came up in the clubs and stages of Hollywood. I remember the joy of first feeling like I had found ‘my kind of people.’ I was finally bonding with like-minded aliens that dared to live outside the lines, and on their own terms. We celebrated each other. At 27, I auditioned for the show that would change my life and career forever. I had an amazing experience on American Idol. A dream come true.
Suddenly, the ramifications of being a queer celebrity became overwhelming. I felt a responsibility to do the LGBTQ community proud and reflect our experience as honestly and openly as I could. However, in 2009, we were nowhere near how mainstream we are now. For some fans, I was their first time identifying with anyone queer. No pressure! There were challenges, double standards and prejudices to deal with. There were moments when I thought I may have bitten off more than I could chew. You know how I kept pushing forward? Besides being stubborn as hell? It was all the crazy dreamers I have known over the years.
Y’all are my true inspiration. You’re life lines that have kept me grounded and thankful. All the LGBTQ musicians, dancers, drag queens, bar stars, club kids, DJ’s, designers, actors, stylists, glam squads….. YOU are my circus family. It is because of all those years traipsing round our nocturnal playgrounds that I had any sense of how and why I wanted to stay the course; to rep for my queer family!
And now 8 years later, the LGBTQ community has come SO far. I see fellow artists AND civilians coming out with no apologies and no fucks given. Despite the current obstacles we face, I’m am blown away by our progress. We have come so far. My true fans share the same principles so we continue to welcome other alien weirdos into our family. Thank you ALL for inspiring and supporting my journey. I promise to keep doing the same for all of you.
Pop music icon Britney Spears:
There’s plenty more where that came from over on the Billboard Love Letters to the LGBTQ Community site here. You’ll find the likes of Barbara Streisand, Selena Gomez, Elton John and many more.