‘E’ stands for out Entertainers we enjoy – Melissa Etheridge, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John… and a much-married Hollywood leading lady who was an exceptional friend of our communities.
“What do you want? Equal Love! When do we want it? Now!!” Volunteer activist organisation Equal Love are behind all those loud and proud rallies and marches calling on the government to legalise marriage equality.
Every major city in Australia has a branch of the Equal Love activism group – except for Sydney, where CAAH (Community Action Against Homophobia) do the honours.
It all begin with Melbourne in 2004, when the Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby didn’t want to take then PM John Howard’s Marriage Amendment Bill – ensuring the institution stayed simply between a man and a woman – lying down.
Taking place four times a year, the rallies attract mostly young student crowds, many dressed in rainbow colours and gripping home-made signs emblazoned with witty slogans. When it’s not far out from an election, you’ll get left-leaning political groups and MPs speaking at the protests, and in Adelaide and Brisbane, a few surly homophobes sometimes try to disrupt the proceedings, often with high-volume loudhailers.
Same Same is proud to support the activities of Equal Love, and we hope the Marriage Act will soon be updated to include all couples, regardless of gender.
Our photographers are often seen at Equal Love rallies – take a look at recent pics from various cities below, and catch up with the latest from Equal Love on its website here.
August 11th, 2012
May 12th, 2012
Award-winning rock singer and songwriter Melissa Etheridge has not only managed to carve out a spectacularly successful career as a popular mainstream performer, but she has also become a lesbian icon and activist for gay and lesbian causes. With a style characterised by intense emotion and a powerful rock-tinged voice, Etheridge has become one of the most distinctive artists in rock music.
Since 1988, she has released 14 studio albums and won multiple Grammy Awards. Critics have praised the vitality of her music and compared her to Janis Joplin, a performer whom Etheridge acknowledges as an important influence on her work.
That same year, Etheridge met Julie Cypher, who would become her long-time partner. The song ‘Bring Me Some Water’ was nominated for a Grammy in 1989, and that same year Etheridge’s second album, Brave and Crazy, was released.
In January 1993 Etheridge, who had performed at some campaign events for Bill Clinton, and Cypher were invited to the President’s inauguration. They attended the Triangle Ball, the first inaugural celebration for gay men and lesbians.
Etheridge was named The Advocate’s Person of the Year for 1995. Her fifth album, Your Little Secret, debuted in the top ten on the charts. She began publicly addressing social issues such as same-sex marriage, saying that as soon as any state legalised it, she and Cypher would be “first in line.”
In November 1996 Etheridge and Cypher appeared on the cover of an issue of Newsweek devoted to gay families. Cypher gave birth to the couple’s first child in February 1997 and to their second in November 1998.
Etheridge adopted the children in order to secure full parental rights. Etheridge had not used her music as a political vehicle, but the murder of gay student Matthew Shepard in October 1998 led her to write ‘Scarecrow,’ a song that decried the homophobia that had caused his death.
In 2003, three years after splitting from Cypher, Etheridge married actress Tammy-Lynn Michaels and the couple welcomed twins in 2006.
The passion, intensity, and emotion of Etheridge’s performances and the sincerity of her lyrics have won her the admiration of many fans, but lesbians have especially responded to her fearless expression of raw emotion and her tireless work for gay rights and women’s rights.
Below, Melissa Etheridge discusses GLBT rights in the US (August 2012):
Sir Elton John
Over more than three decades, Sir Elton John has achieved an amazingly successful track record in the music industry. He was not only the biggest-selling pop superstar of the 1970s, but, more surprisingly, he continues to retain popularity among his fans and respect from music critics.
This year he’s probably best known for his ongoing public slanging match with Madonna, but the GLBTQ community owes him much. During the mid-1980s, John developed a close friendship with Ryan White, a teenage hemophiliac who contracted AIDS through a blood transfusion.
John was also instrumental in helping Ryan’s mother start up the Ryan White Foundation for the prevention of AIDS.
The Elton John AIDS Foundation was started in 1992, and has so far contributed in excess of $25 million to various AIDS causes worldwide. All royalties from the singer’s singles sales also go to AIDS research.
Sir Elton was knighted by the British monarchy in 1998, on the recommendation of then Prime Minister Tony Blair. John has proved that he still has a firm claim on the musical spotlight, although he has increasingly been moving from musical arenas to the political arena.
John also announced, in March 2004, that he would marry David Furnish, his partner of 11 years and on Dec 21, 2005, the first day in which same-sex couples were permitted to enter into civil partnerships in Great Britain, John and Furnish exchanged vows.
Their union brought enormous attention to Britain’s new civil partnership law and provided John an opportunity to denounce the homophobia that prevents the recognition of same-sex couples in other countries.
At the end of 2010, John and Furnish, who had earlier unsuccessfully sought to adopt a child from the Ukraine, announced the birth of their son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John, via surrogate in California.
Watch Sir Elton John’s keynote address at the World AIDS Conference 2012:
Pills, X, disco biscuits, candy, caps – ecstasy goes by a lot of names and is commonly used as a party drug. People take ecstasy because it may provide a sense of openness, emotional closeness and euphoria, however, as with all drugs, there are risks!
The greatest risk associated with ecstasy use is overheating and dehydration. This is especially true if it is being taken while dancing, so take regular breaks to cool down and a good rule of thumb is to keep your fluids up by drinking about 500ml of water per hour. However, it can be dangerous to drink too much water as well, so don’t overdo it!
Ecstasy pills may contain other drugs, so it’s difficult to know exactly what you’re taking. Let your friends know what you’ve taken and try and minimise mixing pills with alcohol and/or other drugs as these could potentially react badly with other substances in the pills.
Ecstasy has played an important role in the growth of queer culture, driving the development of Australian gay night life from the early 1980s throughout the 1990s and beyond. In Sydney, the popularity of ecstasy paralleled the growth of major community events like the annual Mardi Gras Party and sustained a golden era in gay and lesbian party culture. Even though there’s a wider range of drugs available since then, ecstasy remains very popular among our community, with around 25% of women and around 30% of gay men reporting taking it in the last six months – rates many times higher than the national average.
Old-timers will tell you that Es aren’t what they used to be, but the truth is they’ve often always been mixed with whatever other drugs are prevalent at the time, whether that be speed, crystal, ketamine or heroin. And although the quality of ecstasy pills appears to be declining, MDMA (the actual drug that produces that ecstasy-like feeling) is becoming easier to get in capsules or powder form.
Even though newer drugs like GHB and crystal meth have fragmented the traditional ecstasy market (and the gay party scene along with it), E clearly remains a key staple of gay and lesbian drug culture.
On April 30, 1997, Ellen Morgan, heroine of the sitcom Ellen, came out as a lesbian in a highly touted hour-long special episode. That same day, actress and comedienne Ellen DeGeneres announced her own coming out.
DeGeneres had realised she was a lesbian while still a teenager and had spent most of her life in the closet. As her career and her public recognition grew, so did the chasm between her public and private lives.
Ellen’s coming out episode was one of the highest rated television shows ever, attracting 36.2 million viewers and winning an Emmy Award for writing.
Her success was short-lived, however. US network ABC cancelled Ellen at the end of the season, citing declining ratings.
An angry and disappointed DeGeneres blamed lack of network support for her show’s failure. She felt especially betrayed by a parental advisory warning that the network placed on the shows with gay content.
Conservatives were, predictably, horrified with the coming out episode, and while many gays hailed DeGeneres as a courageous pioneer, others criticised her for not being political or radical enough.
Her renaissance came in 2003, when she began hosting a syndicated talk show that developed into a megahit and, as of 2011, had won 32 Daytime Emmy Awards.
DeGeneres started dating Australian-born actress Portia de Rossi in 2004 and, when the California Supreme Court overturned laws barring same-sex marriage in the state in May of 2008, DeGeneres and de Rossi announced that they would wed in the summer. They were married at their Beverly Hills home on August 16, 2008.
Ellen reflects on the ‘coming out’ episode of her sitcom, 15 years later, in May 2012:
And don’t forget…
This late Grand Dame of gay rights was a pioneer in the 1980’s in talking about homosexuality and AIDS. Elizabeth Taylor led the charge to bring out of the closets the negative perception associated with gay men and also raised millions on the quest to find a cure for HIV.
Maybe one of the first proud Hollywood ‘fag hags’, Elizabeth Taylor enjoyed numerous friendships with leading Hollywood men who turned out to be closeted gay or bi-leaning including Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, James Dean and Roddy McDowall.
At the GLAAD awards in 2001 she explained that when she was young she saw nothing wrong with a man loving a man, and she certainly enjoyed their company over the other Hollywood crowds.
But her trigger to do something about gay rights came when her good friend Rock Hudson was vilified by the press and public for being gay and dying of AIDS.
We have come a long way from the bad days of the 1980’s and some of the positive changes can be attributed to our never-to-be-forgotten Hollywood star.
This page was co-written by Heidi Maier, Matt Akersten, Matt D’Silva and the team at ACON.