I’ve always felt like celebrities are weird. I use that word loosely, both celebrity and weird. I don’t know a lot of celebrities, but the idea of being one is weird to me.
Don’t get me wrong, I fan girl out about celebrities. I idolize Harvey Fierstein, the first celebrity role model I ever had. I ogle over Tom Holland and I will drive hours to see Air Supply in concert. I just don’t want to meet them. I don’t want their autographs. I don’t need a picture with them. Why should I?
I like Harvey Fierstein because he was a gay playwright who wore a Mumu on the Johnny Carson show. I dug it. He was doing what I wanted to do with my life, minus the Mumu — although now I should probably be wearing them.
I like Tom Holland because of his movies and I love Air Supply’s music. Outside of that, I don’t know them and meeting them isn’t a priority of mine. I often have said, “I don’t care about celebrities.” What I really mean is that I don’t care that they are celebrities.
When I got the call to work for Joan Rivers the first questions I was asked is, “How do you feel about celebrities?” “I don’t care,” I said. She was a gem, by the way. She was so interested in me and was adamant that I have a good time and be taken care of.
Let’s see if I can articulate this in an appropriate way: Celebrities are just people with a specific talent. For example, my husband is a very talented photographer. He is so much more than that as well. He’s extraordinary to me, but in reality he’s a normal person with a great talent. I think that describes all of us. Whether we are good at math, singing, listening or taxes. We are all just people. Our big difference is how many people like our talent.
I think this is why I love my job so much. We have a platform where we get to hear and tell story after story, opening our community’s eyes to as many of the wonderful people doing good work for the greater good as our pages will allow. We all have value and we all deserve for our stories to be told.
I recently had the privilege to hear the story of one of our own, Brandon Wolf, via his book “A Place For Us.” Like most people, I only got to know Brandon in the wake of the Pulse massacre. He gained local celebrity status through his advocacy and grief. I know him to be an inspirational speaker, a gregarious and handsome guy, but I knew very little about him as a person.
His book got me from the first sentence, where he acknowledges this book is his memoir told through his perspective of his own life. I knew then what I was about to read would be authentic. So much of it resonated with me, and I appreciated the vulnerability and courage it takes for him to admit insecurities while exposing a life of traumatic experiences. It was real. It was human.
I think society loses sight of that human aspect of life. We see celebrity as larger than life when the reality is their life is just real life. What you see of someone is what you are allowed to see, and no one is just that one thing nor are they the thing they used to be. No one is the result of one trauma, one talent or one moment in their history. They are a sum of those, and those experiences continue to change and people continue to evolve.
I had a high school English teacher tell me once, “Don’t tell anyone everything.” How can we possibly know someone in totality if that’s advice everyone follows? You don’t, and that’s okay. I think the key is to realize we are all human, we are all part of a community and we all play an important role in that community.
I am so impressed with “A Place For Us” and I encourage everyone reading this to read that book and share it with someone else. I hope I carry this with me for a long time and remember to understand there is a story behind every person I encounter.
We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.