L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Women's Night
April 17, 2004 - Beverly Hilton Hotel
Los Angeles

 

Jennifer presented the Community Role Model Award to Ilene Chaiken

Jennifer: "Since I can remember I have always been looking for my tribe, my people, the ones who stood in the world as I stood in the world and who gave me strength just from knowing that I didn't stand alone. There is always a feeling that you are invisible until the world somehow proves it to be otherwise. if you are lucky, you see yourself reflected back to you in your family, in stories, in movies and television. You are made visible through love and through culture. Growing up as a biracial child on the South Side of Chicago I knew what it was to feel invisible because the only place I saw myself reflected other than in the faces of my family was through Spock on Star Trek and our dog, Little Mutt. Need I say more?

Now that I am older, I realize that I am a member of many tribes. I belong to this tribe. I feel an amazing bond with the women on this stage. There is part of me that is made visible through their love, through their love of their work and for one another, their dedication to the truth. I have the courage to see parts of myself that were invisible to me when I witness their joyful fearlessness.

But you know, sometimes you have to kind of earn your place in a tribe. Everyone else on the cast seemed so confident, so sure of themselves when we started shooting this show, and I felt I was perpetually in a state of unknowing. I remember the first time I even thought about shooting my first sex scene on The L Word. The scene comes at the end of the pilot and we shot it near the end of our schedule. And really, up until then, I had spent so much time thinking about other aspects of my character. I mean I was thinking about Bette the control freak. Bette the museum director. Bette wanting to start a family, dealing with issues of race. Then it hit me -- oh right, oh my God, she's a lesbian, and I have a sex scene to do and I haven't a friggin' clue as to what I'm supposed to be doing.

I was totally panicked. And I thought to myself, "Okay, what am I suppose to be DOING? Is there some secret way of DOING things, you know INTIMATE things, that only lesbians know about? Is there an esoteric code? Is it maybe on the Internet? www.gayladysecredtcode.com?" And I think, "Oh my God, I'm just going to look like a big fat clueless hetero, and the entire gay community will laugh at me and realize what a bourgeois chump I am." And then I realize something ... I figure out the code. The scene, this sex scene I have been obsessing over is not about sex.

This scene is about two women in a seven-year relationship who've had a difficult time and now they're reconnecting. This scene is about love. It is about love. That's the code.

And now I hope through The L Word to become an honorary member of the gay tribe. I cherish the thought that some young girl or woman somewhere may one night turn on the television and for the first time ever see her life represented -- not as an isolated incident but as a multiplicity. Her overwhelming fear may have been that she might never find her tribe,she might never find love and now she know that they are both out there waiting for her.

Love is large; love defies limits. Love is by definition sacred. Not some love between some people, but all love between all people. How can anyone say one person's love is more sacred than another person's? If indeed it is love, it is sanctified. If it is indeed love, the right to marriage is not questionable. In my mind, nothing pleases god more than love. I don not think it pleases God to codify bigotry. I do not think it pleases God that fear guides the hand of the law in the name of a cultural war.

For me, this show, The L Word, is about love. The most radical thing about it, the most galvanizing thing about it, the most inspiring thing about it, the most unifying thing about it, is that it's about love. And in the face of love, especially the expansive love generated through our own tribes, through our own communities, fear is a petty emotion.

On behalf of the women with whom I stand here tonight I would like to say we are proud to be a part of Ilene Chaiken's vision. we're grateful to Ilene for creating this historic series and to Showtime for giving it a home. Ilene listens openly to our ideas and so often generously finds ways to incorporate them into her stories. Her door is always open. Such a sense of egoless collaboration and mutual respect is all too rare in this industry. Ilene creates a safe place for us as actors, as artists to push ourselves into unfamiliar and sometimes scary territory so that hopefully we can be truthful in our storytelling. Ilene's unflinching fearlessness guides us to the beauty of the truth. And certainly the world desperately needs a dose of both truth and beauty right now.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in presenting this year's Community Role Model to Ilene Chaiken."

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Images of this event: http://www.tibette.com/gallery/thumbnails.php?album=201

 

transcript by Motaterz