‘Society’ Archive

How Sondheim’s ‘Assassins’ fuels my passion for social justice

You might not think a show about Presidential assassins would inspire activism for social justice and the greater good, but Stephen Sondheim’s Assassins has done exactly that for me.

Assassins1This musical masterpiece is not an endorsement of assassination, not by a long shot. Instead, it’s an investigation into what might have motivated nine Americans to feel like the only choice they had in life was to try and kill a President.

I first played the role of Sara Jane Moore, would-be assassin of President Gerald Ford, in 2010. At the time, I was concerned about the anger and anti-government sentiment raging across our country. And after the production was over, I found myself more determined than ever to work toward productive solutions that would help put the American Dream within the grasp of more of our citizens.

I’m playing that role a second time, against the backdrop of a time in our history when the vitriol and violence of humanity feel closer to the surface than ever. If we are to stem this tide of discord, we must engage in collective action to take better care of each other, so that no one feels so disenfranchised, downtrodden or desperate that they’re pushed to such extremes.

My commitment to making a positive difference in this country is even stronger now, and it’s my sincere hope that a day will come when Americans no longer feel inclined to choose violence over constructive action.

I have more to say about Assassins, which you can read in my post at Eclectablog.

[Photo credit: Bryan Clifford, courtesy of Avon Players.]

Proud to be an ally to the LGBTQ community

Ever since I can remember, LGBTQ people have been part of my circle of friends, including those so close I consider them my chosen family. So the work I do to support the pursuit of full LGBTQ equality comes naturally to me.

Pages from PrideSourceMagazine2016With each step forward, I have shared in the joy of the LGBTQ community and wept with joy for their progress. With every setback or tragedy, I have shared in their frustration and grief, at times weeping in sorrow.

I can never truly know what it means to question my sexual orientation or gender identity, but what I do know is this: The LGBTQ community is made up of people, just like any other community. And they deserve the same rights as everyone else.

So it was a great pleasure to write the cover for this year’s annual PrideSource magazine, at a time when the LGBTQ community is celebrating both one of its greatest triumphs to date — marriage equality — and facing some of the most troubling backlash, including the horrific attack in Orlando.

As I wrote in my feature story:

There’s no question that the landscape of LGBTQ equality has shifted dramatically since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage. It’s the equivalent of a massive earthquake that’s done more good than harm. But the aftershocks are significant. Those who oppose LGBTQ equality are pushing back and the backlash is fierce, both in Michigan and across the country. Still, when you talk to leaders in Michigan’s LGBTQ movement, the prevailing attitude is one of optimism.

I had the honor of interviewing some of the most influential LGBTQ movement leaders in Michigan, and I share their optimism — and their determination to continue the forward momentum of progress. I will continue to stand with them every step of the way.

Read my cover story here, starting on page 8.

Using storytelling to foster empathy

Transgender rights are having a moment. Transgender people have existed since the beginning of time, but they’ve often been afraid to tell their stories. Now, they’re afraid not to.

TransLivesCollageWith every step forward in trans equality — and there have been many of late — there continues to be a backlash that is bred through ignorance and fear.

Anti-equality crusaders are using a simple, yet sadly effective, strategy: Take advantage of a lack of awareness about what being transgender really means to incite bigotry and vitriol.

Telling the stories of transgender people is one way to break through the ignorance and fear, to create understanding and empathy. I’m writing an ongoing series of profiles about the lives of transgender people, which you can read over at Eclectablog.

I was pleased to pen a post for the ACLU of Michigan blog talking about my experience with this series, and the trans people who have generously shared their stories with honesty and courage. The fact is that transgender people want the same things everyone else does: to be loved, to be valued, to be understood. As more people learn this simple truth, they will come to realize that transgender people deserve the same rights as every other American.

Read my post at the ACLU of Michigan blog.

[Photo collage courtesy of the ACLU of Michigan.]

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