ME, SARAH AND LGBT
I’m sorry to disappoint but I am not gay. However, a few years ago I found out me and LGBT have a weakness in common: Sarah McLachlan, the three-time Grammy Award winner and Canadian-born singer and songwriter whose ballads helped so many through heartache, breakups and loss.
As opposed to most of her die-hard fans who got to adore her from “Surfacing” (1997) with memorable tunes such as “Builiding a Mystery”, “Adia” and “Sweet Surrender” my Sarah McLachlan’s obsession began with the release of “Afterglow” (2003), her first album after a long 6 year hiatus which most critics deemed languid and predictable. For me it was quite the opposite, “Afterglow” and a pair of headphones was my way to block out the rest of the world; an intimate soul-searching experience very few other albums I have can match.
It was on a balmy night on May 8th, 2005 at Sarah McLachlan’s concert at the then Office Depot Center in Sunrise, FL that I discovered her huge LGBT fan base and even though the resulting show was flawless (as expected) I could never forget this peculiar occurrence.
You may ask yourself what is so strange about a large LGBT fan base following an artist and why do I bring this subject in this blog? Well, it has been 10 years since that concert and I could not help but recognize the enormous advances made by social movements that advocate for the equal acceptance of LGBT people in our society.
Many historians posit that a new era of the gay rights movements began in the 1980s with the emergence of AIDS. However, the next couple of decades were a constant struggle for the LGBT community in an extremely prejudiced society and with laws that almost seemed impossible to repeal. Want a few examples? The beloved Ellen DeGeneres’s ABC show “Ellen” was canceled in May 1998; it was believed that The Walt Disney Company, ABC's parent owner, had become uncomfortable and stopped promoting the popular show after DeGeneres “came out of the closet” or how about the 1993 "Don't ask, Don't Tell (DADT)” Law, enacted by no other than Bill Clinton, that forbid homosexual people from serving openly in the United States military? You see, blatant homophobia cases were dime-a-dozen back then.
For me, as a straight person, Sarah’s concert marked the beginning of my liberation from gay stereotypes and for that I will be eternally grateful to music and especially Sarah McLachlan. Today, I OPENLY and STRONGLY support all social movements that advocate for LGBT rights. On June 26, 2015 the United States became the 17th country to legalize same-sex marriages entirely. Bravo! Let’s keep moving forward…
P.S. While researching for this article, I came across a recent interview in the Dallas Voice that illustrates how every time Sarah opens her mouth something brilliant and compassionate comes out towards her LGBT fans:
DV: You mentioned “Elsewhere,” and I know lots of people who connected particularly with this lyric: Mother can’t you see I’ve got to live my life the way I feel is right for me / Might not be right for you but it’s right for me.
SM: Absolutely. Total rite of passage. And that for me, personally, was directed toward my mother, but I met a transgender kid about a month ago who introduced me to his mom because he was involved in this program that was addressing all the issues that he was facing, which includes coming out to your family. As you know, that can be incredibly difficult. His mom was just wonderful. She gave me a big hug and said, “Thank you so much. You’ve done so much for bringing us together because I’ve connected through your songs. He’s reached out to me and explained what’s happening and he used your music to help explain it.” She just gave me the hugest hug and I’m like, “Oh my god, come here. Come here everyone. Group hug!” And we all started crying. Again, what a beautiful thing. The greatest gift for me is that I get to be a part of something like that, something that is helping other people feel good about themselves, and feel whole.
You can read the entire interview here…