June 20, 2024

It’s Pride Month which is what inspired Laughter On Call to invite a few experts to talk about creating a feeling of belonging for all people at our webinar today (Thursday, 6/20).

I’m not going to lie, I can’t speak personally to the LGBTQIA+ struggle. I haven’t been discriminated against for wanting to sleep with comedians in the 90’s or marrying a cis white man. I probably should be, but so far this hasn’t been my experience. But I certainly know what it means to feel excluded for just being who you are.

We moved from New York City to Connecticut in the mid-70’s. It’s not hard to place the exact year because I have a vivid memory of walking into class and a boy bursting into the room singing “Jeremiah was a bullfrog!” the opening to Three Dog Night’s hit “Joy To The World.”

I wanted these kids to like me, but I also really wanted to talk about my old school like the band camp girl from American Pie. So there was that. I wasn’t exactly ingratiating myself to these suburban kids. There was no hiding that I was a Jewish girl from New York City and even then, I wasn’t willing to soften my edges to fit in. Fortunately, I found musical theater people pretty quickly. Plays and theaters were my sanctuary. It was the perfect world for me. A faceless audience sitting in the dark not talking and having the opportunity to play someone other than me. This is where I found my solidarity. Where I was able to feel less alone and sing showtunes! So I guess it was kind of like a parade.

All these years later I’ve come to understand how important it is to find your people and connect with them. Whatever path we’re on, we need people to march through life with fellows who understand and appreciate us. This is what gives us the strength and confidence to face the people who don’t. And this is true for those facing Alzheimer’s, cancer, alcoholism, (I don’t talk much about those other two but trust me, I qualify), and even corporate teams at work.

We need exactly what the LGBTQIA+ movement demands that we provide. Awareness, acceptance and last but not least celebration! Yes it’s born of painful experiences, but the gift of this movement is the example it sets of persevering and getting to the other side, in the Wizard of Oz sense of the word. Of course that’s what this musical theater kid thought! In fact, the rainbow was chosen to represent the LGBTQIA+ community by Gilbert Baker, a gay artist who wanted to make a proud statement through a symbol showing diversity. He thought it was ideal because it was found in nature. Just like our need for connection.