Friday, November 13, 2009

Linda Ronstadt talks about gay rights

Unlike some big-time straight celebrities whose support for gay rights seems insincere, Linda Ronstadt’s commitment to our community is no mere lip service. In fact, the legendary singer may be doing more for gay rights than anyone in Hollywood – and nobody knows it.

Jenny Stewart writes:
Linda Ronstadt and I are actually sitting in beach chairs in the otherwise empty master bedroom of her newly-purchased, still-unfurnished San Francisco home. We’re surrounded only by her freshly painted swatch samples on the walls, as the rest of the house is being renovated. We discuss her status as a rock goddess and Latin American icon, her YouTube obsessions, and her commitment to equality for gays and lesbians.

Jenny Stewart: So Linda, do you have any gay neighbors, and if so -- do they know Linda Ronstadt just moved in?

Linda Ronstadt: I haven’t met my neighbors yet. But I hope so. I really do think that gays are the best urban pioneers, and they’re the best neighbors you can have. People don’t seem to understand how good it is that if a gay couple moves into your neighborhood and starts restoring a house? Hey – your property values are going up – and in the best way.

Some of the strongest community that we know in this country is in the gay community, because they’ve had to band together to survive emotionally. I’m not so sure this country understands or values that.

Jenny Stewart: Your kids are now teenagers. Have you talked to them about gay issues yet?

Linda Ronstadt: I had moved back to Tucson with my kids because I just thought it was quieter, and my family was there. But Tucson has turned out to be a very conservative place, and I didn’t want my kids coming home from school saying things like ‘That’s so gay.’ So we moved back to San Francisco, and I sent my kids to a school that actively taught that homophobic remarks are just… not OK, and my kids’ attitudes have changed as a result of it.

Look, my kids are going to be able to form their own ideas, but at least I wanted them to be able to question things. My son is super pro-gay rights, and even though he has a girlfriend, I wanted him to know that as he emerged sexually, he’d be able to do whatever he wanted to do. You know, that it’s not something you have a choice over.

Jenny Stewart: That’s pretty amazing what you said about your son. I’m curious. What about you, growing up – when did you first learn about gays?

Linda Ronstadt: The 50’s and 60’s were extremely homophobic periods, even among the so-called ‘enlightened’ cultures. I remember in the 60’s, we were all just discovering that there was racial discrimination, and trying to figure out what we could do about it, but the gay issues were just utterly left out of the conversation.

Then in the 70’s, the gay issues started to emerge at some of those early rallies that I attended or participated in – like “No Nukes” – and I remember thinking, ‘Well, what does this have to do with it?’ The labor issues would come up, civil rights issues would come up, and then the gay issue would come up, and I was like, “huh?’ So it took me a little while to get it, and then I was like, ‘Duh’ – and I got it. I mean I really got it. That was just before I started working on Broadway [for “Pirates of Penzance”] and then once I got there, I really got it. READ MORE