Jennifer Beals receives the HRC Ally for Equality Award

Uploaded by hrcmedia on 24.10.2012

Hello Chicago, Good evening everybody, HRC’s Ally for Equality Award is given to exceptional
individuals who are publically outspoken on LGBT Equality. Tonight, the word exceptional
does not even begin to describe our award recipient. Jennifer Beals is… right on.
Jennifer Beals is a woman’s woman. An independent thinker, with an eloquent element of common
sense, an artist, a mother, an activist, a communicator, and an outspoken ally for human
rights universally. She uses her intellect and compassion to recognize injustice, and
with grace and fortitude, she stands in the room undeterred, peacefully fighting the good
fight for equalities that each and every one of us ultimately deserves. We continue, we
continue to be inspired by Jennifer, on and off screen. So let’s take a moment and look
at some of her work. So, Ms. Porter, why are you such an angry
lesbian? Miss Buckley, why are you such a lying, scheming bigot? OK, sorry. Phyllis,
you are a woman of incredible accomplishments, I cannot possibly see—I think I’m a lesbian,
Bette. –Oh- You seem so fulfilled, I have to know how you’ve done that. It was a process,
Phyllis, I mean, it wasn’t always easy. God, I sure as hell hope it isn’t too late
for me. You think it’s too late for me? It’s never too late. It’s never too late.
Familiarizing myself with what is it to be a lesbian, it’s like, there’s so many
different types of people, there’s so many different types of lesbians. It’d be like
if someone came from another planet and said “I’m gonna’ learn what it means to be
a woman”. When society fails to write your story, there is an unspoken message that the
story is not worth telling. Even if we only went for a few episodes, for one season. If
we could address the needs of one young woman in some town somewhere who did not have access
to her community as a lesbian, that I would be happy and that this show would have performed
a service. And the fact that we got to stay on for 6 years, and give a whole group of
people who were heretofore invisible in pop culture a place in pop culture, however imperfect,
was incredibly gratifying. To love, to love, to love, to love, even when you think the
heart is exhausted by anger, and fear, and hurt, and disappointment, and the latest presidential
election, to love, that is the task that connects us.
(music) (music)
(music) That wasn’t half bad. OK, we continue to
be inspired by Jennifer on and off the screen. So please, let’s take a look at some of
her work onscreen, which we just did. So please help me welcome Chicago’s very own, and
the 2012 HRC Ally for Equality, Ms. Jennifer Beals.
(applause, music) Oh My God, Thank you so much !?I’m such
a cry baby. I’m like crying at myself backstage.  So pathetic…?I just want to say thank
you so much for this  really beautiful award from such an extraordinary organization in
my home town of Chicago no less. It’s the bad ass city of big shoulders where creating
allies is a serious business. I looked up the word ally (just because you know  I’m
a nerd that way) and the dictionary says an ally is someone  that associated with another
as a helper.?To be considered an ally to this beautiful, multifaceted fierce community,
is an honor and a true privilege. The fact is, however, I like all of you are my allies
and frankly my teachers.  (I know I’m gonna make myself cry ! )
?When I accepted the offer to play Bette Porter on the L Word, a gift for which I will be
forever indebted to Ilene Chaiken, I never dreamed I would learn so much over the next
6 years, yes, ok I learnt about dental dams, I learnt about twinkies and I learnt about
how you get your hand over there when you are standing over here and it was like I had
some kind of honorary degree in physics or anatomical engineering at this point but also
I learnt about my inner alpha, thank you Bette Porter, I appreciate that but mostly this
show and most specifically being part of this community, has taught me how to be in the
world, and how to be and live in a democracy. I have learnt thru the LGBT community, I learnt
about the sanctity of love, I learnt about the absolute necessity for authenticity and
the importance of human agency. I’ve learnt how to use my voice.
?When we were shooting the pilot for the L Word, one evening my husband and I were sitting
in a restaurant and he turned and he kissed me and I realized then if we were a gay couple,
this event would’ve been very important for this particular restaurant and it hurt
my heart, it spoke not only to my sense of otherness, spoke to my sense of being marginalized
as a woman because homophobia is after all a form of misogyny and I for one would be damned if someone thinks
it is somehow elevating to be confined to a binder…right?  but I digress.
The event in the restaurant awaken in me the knowledge of how much courage it takes to
live your life authentically and that’s true of anyone but it’s especially true
of anyone who is systematically, culturally and structurally marginalized. I have been
reading a lot of Brené Brown lately and in a story about her daughter she distinguishes
fitting in from belonging in this way. Fitting in it’s where I have to be like you and
belonging it’s where I get to be me. It takes a lot of work to deconstruct system
so that everyone feels like they can experience themselves fully as individuals within a group.
It takes a lot of voices being raised to bring down the walls.
?In my time within this beautiful LGBT huge community, I have met hundreds of activists
who use their voices in myriads ways. Not all of them have blow horns or led marches
but they all use their voices. From the social worker in Uganda trying to provide some kind
of clandestine support group to the LGBT community to the couple who after 30 years together
and age of 70 decide to come out of the closet to be able to experience their love more fully
and change their world. To every kid who started a gay and straight alliance group at their
school in the face of potential humiliation or had to find a new family within the community
because their parents kicked him out of the house when they come out. These men and women,
young and old, not only spoke truth to power, they, with the help of so many great organizations
like HRC, spoke money to power and sometimes with their hearts wide open they spoke love
to power. ?Love is by its very nature sacred and therefore
powerful in ways we can only imagine. When we acknowledge our love for ourselves, for
our beloved, for this beautiful and complex world we live in, we realize we cannot silence
ourselves or anyone or any government that would seek to quiet or diminish us and the
love of anyone of us seeks to express. If we were to compromise that love whether is
for ourselves, our beloved or a child we long to adopt, if we were to compromise our authenticity
we diminish not only ourselves but we denigrate that very democracy of which we are a part.
When we acknowledge and embrace love we can effect change. Love is both sword and shield.
?(Now I’m gonna try to say this without crying.. this is gonna be like an acting exercise
pratically..) I wanna thank you all for being my teachers….
(Take 2) I wanna thank you all for being my teachers, I want to thank you for being my
ally. It’s so important that we all have each other’s backs. ?The L is not separate
from the G or the B, or the T or the Q or S for that matter. Together they form a powerful
alliance. Please know in all of your hearts, it is my pleasure to use my voice, heart and
mind on behalf of this extraordinary community and I long for a day when the ally award will
be obsolete because we will all be allies to each. Because we will all be allies to
each living authentically, belonging rather than fitting in.
?Thank you