Queer as Folk started airing when I was beginning my senior year of high school. My mum watched it, as did a bunch of her friends. Tea-time conversations were about the show (tea-time conversations are a terribly Scottish thing, you see. Topics over the years have oft included The Royal Family, Princess Diana, Coronation Street, Princess Diana, 'how the kids are doing', Princess Diana, and yes, Queer as Folk). So, it was in my senior year that I first saw what a "PFLAG Mom" looked like, as played by the inimitable and astoundingly talented Sharon Gless.
Within that year I would not only Come Out to everyone, I would know firsthand what it was like to have a PFLAG Mom, myself. Sure, my Mum didn't actually join PFLAG until years and years later, as she (in her retirement years) wanted a new hobby and social advocacy and helping other families was right up her alley, but from the moment I told my family I was falling in love with another guy, my entire family became the picture of a PFLAG Family, and when people would talk about my Mum (and trust me, once you meet her you'll understand why so many people talk about her) they'd always say, "Oh! She's like Debbie! She's totally Debbie from QAF!"
And she is. Thank you, Sharon Gless, for showing our parents what love looks like, and for introducing millions of people to PFLAG through your portrayal of Debbie Novotny. A mother who loved her son so much, and cared so much about making life better for not only him, but for the countless other LGBT people in our world culture. The show's scenes in which Debbie helps ease young blonde twink Justin's mother into her new understanding about having a gay son remain incredibly moving to this day. For a lot of us, it was the first time we saw "Families Actually Dealing With Gay Family Members" in any form of entertainment.
On QAF, the character of Debbie Novotny was a local gaybourhood icon - everyone knew Debbie, and Debbie knew everyone. She was everyone's mom. I feel that, in my own life. My mum is a local gay icon. My mum is everyone's mum. We're everyone's family. That's what PFLAG is.
Rosie O'Donnell flew up to present the award to Sharon Gless, who accepted it with touching grace and humility and love. Tears of joy creaked out these weary cynical eyes. A lot of love in the air.
Thank you, Sharon Gless.
Attached is a portion of the introduction Rosie O'Donnell gave for Sharon. Below that is the complete speech that Sharon Gave. Take a few minutes, soak up the love.
Also honoured last night were three members of Canadian parliament responsible for helping to pass
Bill 33, Toby's Act (Right to be Free from Discrimination and Harassment Because of Gender Identity or Gender Expression)
Yes. Three MPP's from three different parties, (NDP's Cheri DiNovo, Liberal Party's, Yasir Naqvi, PC's Christine Elliot) who worked across aisles to do what politicians are SUPPOSED TO DO - which is not just, you know, their jobs, but to not treat human rights issues as bipartisan ones. It was DiNovo's fourth attempt to secure Human Rights Code protections for gender identity and gender expression. In 2012 it passed. Groundbreaking. Life-changing. Utterly Canadian. I'm thrilled that my country and home province are breaking ground with their inclusive support and solidarity with our transgendered and transitioning brothers and sisters.