Updated: June 25, 2013 4:24PM
June is my favorite month. For me, it marks the official start of summer, when trees are in full bloom and I can rest assured that beautiful weather is here to stay. I also love June because it’s Pride Month — a time when the LGBT community not only celebrates its history, but also raises awareness for important issues. Throughout June, numerous organizations doing tremendous work are in the spotlight. I am proud to be a part of one of them: The USA Network’s Characters Unite public service campaign, which works to combat hate and discrimination and foster greater tolerance and acceptance.
The cause means a lot to me because I understand what it means to be mocked for being different. I grew up in a little village in Lincolnshire, England, where I was one of a handful of minority children. Although I had amazing friends, nurturing teachers and strong mentors, I knew there was something different about me. This was usually most clear to me when I was with my parents, who had foreign accents. I remember once watching my father deal with a postal worker who, during a transactional miscommunication, snidely berated him with racial slurs. Sadly, at the time, I was annoyed with my father.
Looking back, I am ashamed of myself. I allowed someone to be disrespectful to my father because he was different, and I never stood up for him. I had allowed my own fear of being “different” and “causing a scene” to get in the way of what was decent. I was very young, but that memory truly made an impact on me. Since then, I’ve refused to allow intolerance in my life.
Growing up in the musical theater scene, I made relationships with plenty of phenomenal gay men and women, and saw them as no “different” than I was. Some of my best friends, who also happened to be gay, were and still are my rocks. Because of them, I began to see being different as strength. Shame on the people who disrespect other humans by degrading them. No one — regardless of who they think they are — has the right to judge what is true. Difference equals life equals truth. That is how I wish to live.
So I’m proud to be part of the special partnership between Characters Unite and CB2. Through in-store events and multiplatform promotions, the month-long effort will benefit GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. As part of the promotion, CB2 is selling a stylish messenger “Out and About” bag, and a portion of the proceeds ($30) will support GLSEN’s work across the country. And from 2-4 p.m. June 29, there’ll be a special in-store Pride Month celebration at the CB2 Lincoln Park Store (800 W. North).
I encourage you to attend the event and visit Charactersunite.com to get involved in this program, or in one of the many other initiatives focused on issues that will touch the lives of nearly every citizen of this world.
Watch “Royal Pains” Wednesdays this summer at 8 p.m.