For Gay Pride Month, Billboard asked numerous pop culture luminaries to write ‘love letters’ to the LGBTQ community. Below, Garbage singer Shirley Manson — a longtime supporter of HIV/AIDS research and care — shares hers. Read more Pride Month love letters here.
To our cherished allies in the LGBTQ community: I had no idea when I was growing up in Scotland deep in the 1970s what a toll it took on you to appear so powerful and proud. You made it all look easy but I realize now it took immense strength, defiance and courage. It is infuriating to think that it is now 2017 yet we’re still in the fight to protect your rights in this topsy-turvy world.
I was around ten when you first caught my attention. In a world of grey and beige, you sparkled like a diamond in a magpie’s nest and I was utterly mesmerized. You earned the highest accolade a freckled-faced, redhead could bestow upon you: You were unique. I admired you most because you told the truth about who you were and what you wanted. You showed me that I didn’t have to adhere to conventional gender roles or accept anything less than an equal foothold in the world with another person. I could just be myself.
Thank you for everything you have taught me about the human condition. For teaching me that we are all indeed very different yet so very much alike. We all want to live free. Free to love and be loved.
In 2017, global ideas about gender as a restrictive binary social construct are gradually breaking down. Attitudes are changing. Progress is slowly being made, despite the attitudes of a vocal few. I know that sooner or later we will prevail against ignorance and bigotry. Of this I have no doubt. So heartfelt congratulations to you on Pride 2017. It is with deep gratitude to you as trailblazers and in memory of the late Gilbert Baker that I leave you with a quote from a song that my beloved mother would sing to me as a child. If I close my eyes I can hear her sing it now: “I can sing a rainbow. You can sing one too. Listen with your eyes and sing everything you see. Sing a rainbow, sing along with me.”