Sally Field Receives HRC's Ally For Equality Award

Uploaded by hrcmedia on 07.10.2012

I have been asked to introduce this year’s recipient of the Ally for Equality Award.
This year’s honoree is Sally Field. When the fine people at the HRC asked me to do
this, I had to take a minute to think about why Ms. Field was indeed an ally. I thought,
well the Flying Nun is campy and gays sure like camp, but that doesn’t seem like enough.
And then I thought about her long and very lustrous career and how many strong independent
women she’s played and how she’s never been afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve
or speak her mind and it started to make a little more sense. And finally, I was reminded
of her role on Brothers & Sisters for five seasons. Where she played the mother all of
us gay men wished we had. You see, it’s a unique position for me, because she is my
actual mother. Thank you. And I don’t me that in the “Oh my God she’s just like
my mom” sense. I mean she actually gave birth to me. She is my mother. Let me tell
you a little bit about what she’s like as a mother in real life…in your face. Like
all the time. She won’t give you a moment’s peace, even if you move to the other side
of the country for college. I really shouldn’t be complaining though, I know that I’m one
of the lucky ones to have her as a parent. When I came out, she didn’t even bat an
eye, in fact she was overjoyed. Yeah. Being gay was just one more thing she loved about
me. She couldn’t be more supportive of me. If anything, I wish she was a little less
supportive of me. I recently had to sit her down and tell that there were certain things
about my dating life that I will just not be sharing with her, no matter how much she
asks. Last week, someone asked me what my mom thought about being a gay icon. The truth
is she has no idea. I mean, tonight might help her understand a little bit better, but
I’ve been trying to explain it to her for several years and she just doesn’t really
get it. In truth, I didn’t really know until I went on one of my first dates with another
guy and the subject of what our parents did came up. I learned the hard way that I should
really get to know someone pretty well before revealing my background when he told me that
he had a blog called “Drink Your Juice Shelby.” Needless to say, it was our only date. In
many ways, our relationship fits the stereotype of that between a gay man and his mother.
So much so, that my friends like to occasionally refer to me as my mom’s “best gay.”
A title which is unfortunately, or fortunately, rather accurate. In fact if any of you have
ever seen her wear an outfit to some event that you thought looked good, it was probably
my doing. My mom recently purchased an apartment in the West Village, just about a ten minute
walk from where I live. It’s a mixed blessing. She can take me and my friends to nice dinner
sometimes and is around to help me if I get sick. But she’s a ten minute walk from my
apartment. She can drop by whenever. Her new place is right around the corner from a gay
bar that she has asked me several times to take her to. A more horrifying spectacle I
could not imagine. I’m not sure what it would do for my self-esteem if my mom got
me a boyfriend. All joking aside, I feel very blessed to be able to call her my mother.
In addition to be being an extraordinarily talented actress, I know that she will have
my back for as long as she lives. There are a lot of young gay men out there who would
kill to have her as a mom and a lot of parents of gay children who could learn a lot from
her. I’m sure everyone here is familiar with the phrase “it gets better.” Many
teens especially need to know that life saving and life starting message when they feel rejected,
blamed, hopeless or harmed. Growing up in my home however, my mom made it better, especially,
for me. She grounded me to the person I am meant to be whether gay or straight. She’d
still love me if I were straight. I think. She is my constant champion and I am more
than happy to share her with every family who believes in equality as strongly as we
Tonight, please join me in welcoming my mom, Sally Field, this year’s HRC Ally For Equality.
No. No, don’t go. I won’t let him go. They told me him to go, I don’t want him
to go. Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you so much for this. And thank
you Sam. Wow. Oh my God that was the most nerve wracking moment of my life. He was like…I’m
so proud of him. You know what, this is a very odd thing I have to tell you right now,
but for the first time in my life I’m too tall. They put a big thing here and I’m
towering over this, I have to take my shoes off I’m sorry. Okay you know what, we’re
getting down. It’s time to get right down. Oh my God it’s haunted. We’re gonna do
that. Thank you, thank you. Alright now. Okay. This is a long evening. Just talk to you now,
I gotta talk to you. The three things I am most proud of in my life, are Peter, Eli,
and Sam. My sons. They are kind, and loving, productive human beings. Each very different
from the other. Peter was born in 1969, Eli in ‘72 and Sam in 1987. He’s 18 years
younger than his older brother and 16 years younger than the other. He grew up wanting
to be just like his big brothers, athletic and rambunctious, not to mention a little
bit macho. He worked so hard to see the day when he could kick Eli’s ass at tennis or
destroy Peter at computer football Madden something or other 4012. Or just simply have
more information about every basketball player on every single court. But Sam was different
and his journey to allow himself to be what nature intended him to be was not an easy
one. As his mother, I consider it one of the great privileges of my life to be allowed
to be part of it. When I saw him struggling I wanted to jump in and define it for him,
but his brothers held me back, fiercely insisting I try not to travel that road for him. It
was his to travel not mine, they kept telling me. I had to wait for him to own himself in
his own time. I could make it easier only by standing visibly to the side, clearly loving
him and always, always there, even if it was just on the phone, at all times of the day
or night. He had to see that all the things he really wanted in life were still possible
whether he was gay or straight. His dreams of the future were not limited, to have the
career he always wanted, whatever that turns out to be, to find a lasting and loving partner
and to build a family of his own. Sam was given colors and innate perceptions that his
big brothers just simply don’t have. He’s a gentler nature and it is a gift. Nature
made Sam, it wasn’t a choice. He was always, always Sam, glorious, smart, funny, sweet
Sam. And finally at 20, long after he beat the crap out of his brothers at tennis and
he knew more than anyone about basketball, at 20, he was finally able to stand up proudly
and say, “I am a gay man.” I’ve never talked about this before, it’s Sam’s business
and not mine to talk about, but I’m here tonight for two reasons. There are so many
children who struggle to understand and embrace their sexuality in families who do not welcome
them with parents that somehow find it acceptable to shut them out of their hearts and their
homes. And that I find unacceptable. There comes a time when parents must listen and
learn from these people they brought into the world, their children. And these children
have something important to teach their parents. I urge them to listen. And then I’m here
to thank you, yes to thank you for this award, but more than that. I want to thank all of
you out there who have been brave enough to walk point and force change. To fight for
the basic human rights that my son and my son’s generations and the generations to
follow will so greatly benefit from. He doesn’t have to twist himself into a pretzel and pretend
to be somebody he isn’t, denying important parts of who he is. He doesn’t have to give
up his dreams of the future. He doesn’t have to feel ashamed. You all have fought
for him as surely as if you were one of his parents, you’ve changed and are changing
the lives of little boys and girls who realize somewhere along the way, they’re just different
from their other brothers and sisters. And so the fuck what? There’s a, there’s a
wonderful saying, a wonderful saying, and I think it’s very true and the most important
task in my life. A mother is not someone you lean on, a mother is someone who makes leaning
unnecessary. I, I wanna thank all of you for making my job of being Sam’s mother so much
easier. Thank you for this.