Guest Blogger

Kathy Griffin: Comedian and Activist

Filed By Guest Blogger | July 26, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Entertainment, Marriage Equality
Tags: California, comedy, comedy routines, Kathy Griffin, Prop. 8

[Ehbpier.jpgditor's Note: Louise Larsen is an actress currently on hiatus as a blogger at Louise On The Left where she writes about politics, pop culture as well as everyday tales as a liberal mother of two in Orange County, California.

Born in New Orleans, raised in Vermont, she attended college at the North Carolina School of the Arts before landing in New York City were she spent an action-packed decade. She worked in the theater for low pay (very). Became a good waitress for occasionally high pay, and along the way discovered she was an avid diarist. Flash forward to the Internet age and how could she not be an avid blogger, too?]

Comedian Kathy Griffin, in her endless quest to become an A-lister, ended up becoming an activist - an entirely different A-list - fighting alongside her many gay fans against California's Proposition 8. As Melissa Etheridge dubs her, "Norma Gay!"

Having been a longtime Kathy Griffin fan, learning about her new leaf as a political activist really made me sit up and take notice.

Given that you're reading this on Bilerico, I'm guessing you're well-versed in the history of California as a gay battleground state, but gays and lesbians aren't the only Californians pissed off about this. Many of us straight people are - I've been writing about this for months - and now Kathy Griffin is in the fight too.

In this episode of her show "My Life On The D-List" which airs this Monday, July 27th, on Bravo, (Episode 8, Season 5) Griffin takes on a more serious tone than usual, starting off with a declaration of war, more or less, on the eve of the California Supreme Court's decision on the constitutionality of Prop 8.

"In November that bullshit passed making gay marriage illegal and putting California back in the stone age," Griffin starts out. "California gays are pissed. Pissed off, and so am I. This is ridiculous. Prop 8 is unconstitutional and so we've taken the issue to the Supreme Court of California who will hopefully (*sigh*) do the right thing.

"Because if you mess with the gays, you mess with me!"

So to kick off her quest, she enlists the support of power lesbians because, as Kathy puts it: "They are tapped in. They golf. They focus. They legislate."

Griffin heads over to the home of Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels and asks them for political advice, and how to argue the case for gay marriage without doing what she normally does - "Just tell people to fuck off" - when confronted by foes of gay rights.

Before leaving Melissa and Tammy's house, she asks Etheridge to use her Oscar - "a clearly gay guy" - to dub her "Norma Gay." And thus, Griffin embarks on her quest to march to the capitol and get our state to repeal Prop 8.

But not before dropping in on her buddies at The Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center to "find some gay youths to recruit, first."

We see her meet six very sweet kids who are taking part in a very cool program at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, and eventually the whole group flies to Sacramento to march against Prop 8 just a day or two before the supreme court ruling.

The young gay and lesbians, surprisingly, knew very little about Matthew Shepherd, so Griffin tells them about him, and explains why his tragic story is really a story everyone needs to hear about, especially kids who might be also have been victimized by others for the same reasons.

It's not all serious - this is Kathy Griffin after all, and we see clips of a comedy benefit she does for the LA Gay and Lesbian Center later - but it's the most serious-minded episode of this series I can remember. I think that when you realize how prevalent gay bashing is still, today, you can't watch these kids in show learning about Matthew Shepherd for the first time and not tear up yourself. Hate is a problem for all of us to contend with and California just made it worse by not repealing that stupid law. Having the right to marry is a societal issue. We need to speak out until everyone has the same rights as everyone one else, because, as I'm sure you know "separate is not equal." And we won't stop until it is.

And good for her, I say, to devote an entire episode to this issue. As she says in a video clip below, "there's nothing funny about Prop 8" so given she's a comedian it's a pretty bold move to dedicate so much of her series to such an unfunny and serious cause. Right on, Kathy.

As a straight woman with a sense of humor who's also fought much of the last year against all things Prop 8, it's great to see people with any amount of celebrity - D-list, A-list, whatever - use their voice to also speak out.

Below is a quick clip where Kathy states that the word "Union is not enough." She demands 'Marriage." -- You go, Girl.

Also, in the spirit of sharing, below's a full clip of her quite eloquent speech she gave in Sacramento last March, clearly and passionately stating in no uncertain terms just why this cause is important to her.  Note:  You will not find all of this clip in her Bravo segment on Prop 8 this week, and it really should be seen.  It's very moving, so I suggest taking the time to view it in entirety, as well.

Griffin may claim she's new to the role of activist, or that children threaten her, but let me tell you, she can be a role model to my kids any time. I'd be proud for my children to grow up knowing that activism is about taking action to demand equality and freedom for all.

But I'm your not-so-average Orange County mom, who thought nothing of driving her kids around in her minivan after dark to help mom "re-organize" those pesky "Yes, on Prop 8" signs. Or, while walking the dog at night occasionally swiped one or two signs under my sweater 
despite the effect doing so had on my now suddenly very rectangular profile and all the awkward metal posts protruding from under my shirt on the way home.

Yep, that's me: A "Real Housewife of Orange County," all right. *sigh.

You can read more about my (past wayward actions) in my post: The California Yard Sign Wars.

Or some of my former blog posts about fighting Prop 8 last fall: One California voter's opinion about Prop 8 or: Totally disgusted with Pro-Prop 8, California.

But, what do I know? I'm just a hopelessly vanilla mom from behind the Orange Curtain using my own remedial blogger voice to stand up for what I believe in. And I salute Kathy Griffin for doing so as well on a far grander scale on wonderful show, My Life on the D-List.

This Monday. July 27th, 2009. -- Seriously, don't miss this.

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Not only Orange County, but all of America needs more "ordinary housewives" like you

I don't watch her show as much as I used to, need to get back into it... We need more straight advocates to stand up for the inequality as well.

I'm glad you're doling out some liberal bitch-slapping to conservative Orange County. :)

Yes, well, it's a dirty job, but -- damn, it feels good!

I should have also put in my bio that I also sing with the very open-minded, Orange County Women's Chorus. And we are located right in the heart of OC near Costa Mesa and Newport Beach.

Singing with this very talented treble ensemble has been another (equally artistic) way to bring attention to issues such as civil rights and the role of women our society through some gorgeous, moving music. As musicians, we are a fairly broad spectrum of gay, straight, etc. -- but we are all extremely talented women dedicated to making great music together. I invite you to hear us sometime.

What can I say? Commitment to artistic freedom and civil liberty has always been deeply important to me.

Who is anyone to legislate the human heart? -- No way. Not on my watch.

Every time I read about Kathy Griffin I wish I had cable. I did very much enjoy the episode I tracked down online in which she ate fried twinkies with Bette Midler. That's pretty gay too.