As LGBTQ discourse sweeps across public forums through the combined efforts of activists and policymakers, the recent overwhelming surge for gay rights is accompanied by the sound of “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy.”
Carly Rae Jepsen has recently joined the ranks of many celebrities acting in favor of gay rights by taking a stand against the Boy Scouts of America. Jepsen was supposed to headline the Boy Scouts’ 2013 National Scout Jamboree in July but turned the organization down due to its exclusion of gay members.
“As an artist who believes in equality for all people, I will not be participating in the Boy Scouts of America Jamboree this summer,” Jepsen tweeted Tuesday. “I always have and will continue to support the LGBT community on a global level and stay informed on the ever-changing landscape in the ongoing battle for gay rights in this country and across the globe.”
Jepsen’s withdrawal from the Boy Scouts’ Jamboree follows the opposition of fellow headliner Train. The San Francisco-based band said it would only participate in the Jamboree if the Boy Scouts overturned the ban on gay members before the band was set to perform. The Boy Scouts announced in February that it was considering discussing and possibly reversing the ban on gay Scouts, but has since delayed that decision until May.
Both Jepsen’s and Train’s opposition to participate in an event sponsored by an organization with homophobic tendencies has an incredible impact on the fight for equality. Celebrity advocates have a huge impact on the gay rights movement — more so than any other institution. Because the Hollywood cultures of music and film are universal favorites in our society, people are naturally drawn to the celebrities who are involved in them. When those same celebrities who have accumulated a solid fan base speak out in support of the LGBTQ community, they have the chance to impact a group of people who may have never joined the conversation about LGBTQ rights otherwise.
This new sense of advocacy can be seen through the works of many celebrities, such as Glee’s Darren Criss, whose prevalent activism has motivated his fans to donate almost $1,500 to The Trevor Project (a suicide prevention organization for the LGBTQ community) in honor of his birthday last month.
When Grammy winner Frank Ocean came out as bisexual last year, he opened new doors for the hip-hop community, which has never before had such a prominent gay artist. And rapper Macklemore continued that wave of gay rights advocacy in the rap world with his song “Same Love” that has lyrics such as, “No freedom ‘til we're equal. Damn right, I support it.” Both of these artists brought discussion of LGBTQ issues to places that had previously shied away from them.
And, of course, the prominent voice of Lady Gaga, whose fans are so passionate that they constantly endure endless protestors outside her concerts due to her explicit LGBTQ advocacy. I remember never feeling more empowered then the day I walked into her concert, silently holding my friend Erin’s hand, without looking twice at the protestors who screamed their bigotry at us.
It was that moment that took the abstract idea of gay rights and brought it to the forefront of my life. I got to see firsthand the divide that LGBTQ issues created, and there is really no denying that the power of celebrity endorsement was the cause.
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