Thoughts on Humans #4 : Neon & Families

Chaz Bono (1969-)

Chaz Bono is really an amazing and down-to-earth activist.  He didn’t have to end up that way.  His parents were ridiculously famous, and it would have been easy for Chaz to be a demanding and unfriendly celebrity child of celebrity parents.  But that really doesn’t give enough credit to Cher and Sonny.  White she has been an international star, and incredibly famous, Cher has always retained her humanity.  She seems to have been able to give that gift to her son as well.

Chaz Bono’s story is well-known.  He came out twice, first as lesbian in 1995 and later as himself, a transgender man in 2008.  It’s documented and has been discussed in documentaries and appearances on various talk shows.

Chaz has become a fantastic activist and a leader in the LGBT community.  He uses his name to bring attention to the issues affecting the community and uses his heart to make those issues relatable.

Chaz Bono’s Website

Cheyenne Jackson (1975-)

Cheyenne Jackson is an award winning actor, featuring in many plays, movies, and TV shows.  But I’ve seen none of his acting roles.  I know him from a recommendation of his album ‘I’m Blue, Skies’.  I loved the album, but didn’t think much more about him until he did an appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race as one of the best judges the show has had.  He’s physically beautiful, but I love how he so clearly doesn’t lean on that.  He’s funny, he’s witty, and there seems to be a core of kindness that makes him instantly likable.  Where I’ve really fallen for him is on Instagram.  One of my greatest dreams has been to have a family of my own, so seeing two men raising their children just melts my heart.  I’ve become a giant fan, not of his talent, but of him as a person.  And now my interest is piqued and I’ll be looking into his film and television roles.

Cheyenne Jackson’s Instagram

James Baldwin (1924-1987)

 “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin

What I love about James Baldwin is how unapologetic he was… about everything.  He was not interested in being ashamed of his race, his sexuality, or his beliefs.  That would be amazing today, but Baldwin was this way in times that left his contemporaries cowing in shadows to the power structure that sought to keep people subjugated.

James Baldwin did not tolerate unequal treatment.  When he was denied service for being black, he left the country so as not to be defined by that blackness.  He spent most of his later life in France, but he returned to the United States in 1957 and worked with prominent civil rights leaders who were activating with the purpose of ending racial inequities.  He did not consider himself a Civil Rights leader, but his writings and support were important in propping up the cause.  Time magazine featured Baldwin on its cover and said of him “there is not another writer who expresses with such poignancy and abrasiveness the dark realities of the racial ferment in North and South.”

In 1970, James Baldwin settled in France.  He had established a legacy as a civil rights writer, in spite of his rejection of that definition, and now he became an important voice of the gay rights movement.  He was also friends with Nina Simone, Toni Morrison, Richard Wright, and Maya Angelou. Those who knew him in his life represent an amazing group of well known people from all disciplines, artists and politicians, anthropologists and poets.

James Baldwin Profile on PBS’ American Masters

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