Acceptance of our lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgendered and questioning friends has come a long way in the last 20 years. The heroic work of the drag queens of Stonewall, Bayard Rustin, Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon, Harvey Milk, etc., created a foundation for change years before, but in the last 20 years or so, the Internet, television, film, and music have managed to personalize the LGBTQ experience, turning it from a theoretical issue to a very personal one—an issue that affects your community, your family, and your heart. It's one thing to change the law—and thank goodness for the legal warriors taking the fight to the courts—but it's quite another to change hearts and minds, and often that daunting task is left to the artists. The expression of the LGBTQ experience through art connects both the opposed and the frightened, gay teenager to their humanity, allowing them to find common ground.
Members of our acting community have certainly done their part. Rupert Everett, Ellen Degeneres, Neil Patrick Harris, Rosie O'Donnell, George Takei, Sir Ian McKellen,and many others all made personal connections with audiences, forcing all of us to see our own humanity in them, regardless of sexual preference.
However, it couldn’t have been easy. Not that long ago, LGBTQ actors had to hide what makes them wonderfully unique for fear of destroying their careers. Each of those artists faced fierce resistance, and while things are changing, even young actors who've grown up with far less resistance must struggle to find their voices. It takes time to undo the psychology of oppression, and it requires a great deal of courage for an actor to lean towards the violent winds of intolerance and offer an emotional truth.
We see this at the BGB Studio as well. We demand that all our actors—straight actors and gay actors—offer their unique emotional truth within the world of a play. They are expected to offer their true feelings, want something from their scene partner, and try actively to get it. But what if you had spent decades hiding your true voice and hiding what you truly wanted? What if the consequence of expressing an essential part of who you are were that you might not be safe? It's all fine and nice for a straight, white, male teacher to demand an actor's truth, but many of our actors represent a minority without entitlement, and have been forced to spend decades doing just the opposite.
And yet, every single week the LGBTQ members of the BGB Studio show up, dig deep, and express the totality of their unique, dynamic emotional lives. Every single week they lean into their work fully with strength and passion, and we all benefit as a result. Their work affects us deeply and leaves us feeling whole and human. There are few gifts as meaningful as the gift of humanity, particularly when great courage is required to give it.
So, to those of you who are struggling to find and express your true voice—in an L.A. acting class or a small town where intolerance still rages—know that we appreciate you, and that you are struggling not only for yourself, but for all of us.
More here at The BGB Studio Blog: http://bramongarciabraun.com/blog/
Risa Bramon Garcia (renowned casting director - with "Masters of Sex picked up for Season 2, director, producer, and teacher) and Steve Braun (teacher, actor, communication consultant) are partnered in The Bramon Garcia Braun Studio, dedicated revolutionary acting and auditioning training. New career changing classes and workshops are here for 2014! Career and audition coaching and taping are in full swing. For more go to www.bramongarciabraun.com.