Pump Up Your Pride with Lisa Vanderpump
Q Virginia has the pleasure of interviewing social icon Lisa Vanderpump regarding her support of the LGBTQ community.
1.) You’ve been a longtime supporter of the LGBT community. From being a spokesperson for GLAAD and playing an active role in the Trevor Project to leading the annual AIDS Walk Los Angeles and working with the Desert AIDS Project. You even won the Ally Leadership Award from Equality California last year. What makes the issue of LGBT rights so near and dear to your heart and when did you start making the issue of equality central to your life?
A: I’ve always felt passionately about the fact that people do not choose their sexual orientation. I have always been very aware of that. I’ve been privileged enough to be raised in a family without any prejudice against the LGBT community. I never understood why there was prejudice against people whose sexual orientation isn’t even harming anyone at all. I was taught to be kind to others and treat everyone equally.
2.) Even before the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land, you officiated a gay wedding at your restaurant PUMP back in 2014. Knowing your strong support of marriage equality, why did you decide to support the movement by officiating a wedding?
A: I can use my television show as a platform to speak out about things that I am supportive of. My shows are broadcasted to 137 countries, to millions of people. TV is a very powerful medium and I think people know me very well. I’ve done over 200 episodes of RHOBH and if I can give parents a better understanding of the LGBT community, I’ll do it. They need to understand that it’s all about accepting not tolerating, there is nothing they can do to change their child’s sexual orientation. I have been requested to do many more marriages since, but it’s not something I want to do on daily basis. It was all about drawing attention to the cause. I believe that as a heterosexual woman with children in a long standing marriage, a business woman that I am a great conduit between the LGBT community and the heterosexual community.
3.) You’ve made incredible use of Twitter to espouse your views and carry on conversations about various topics, including LGBT rights. During the Oscars this year, you even supported Sam Smith when he dedicated his Oscar win for song of the year to the LGBT community by tweeting, “Oh Sam Smith...#LGBT thank you ...Moving forward one step at a time.” Why do you feel that Twitter is the most effective platform for you to engage your fans and the public at large?
A: I have over 1 million followers on Twitter and I actively engage with my fans. I hate to call my fans, “my fans,” because I don’t really know what they’re a fan of, I’m just a person living my life. But my supporters should we say, I have made some amazing relationships with over Twitter. Having those people support me when I’ve had dark times on reality television is important to me. When I have something important to say, I put it out there.
4.) You have been fortunate enough to enjoy many life experiences that most will never have. What are three things that you have not had the chance to do yet, but that you would really like to experience?
i) Maybe two years ago I would’ve said I’d like to have the success of being involved in bringing marriage equality to be accepted through the US, but that is done now. I would think my other cause is to ban the Yulin Dog Eating Festival.
ii) I would like the experience of being a grandmother because I love being a mother (Pandora take notes).
iii) I would like to speak at the United Nations again concerning the Yulin Festival. I spoke at the United Nations a year ago on the Ebola crisis and that was of utmost importance.
iv) What responsibilities do you think celebrities and, more broadly, the media have when it comes to influencing the tone and tenor of national conversations about topics of the day (e.g. - civil rights, politics and entertainment)?
B: Celebrities and the media have a huge about of influence. I use the word celebrity loosely. One of the things celebrities should do is draw attention to causes that are important to them. Also, one of the most important responsibilities as a celebrity is to give back and draw attention to important causes. I have used my celebrity to draw attention to causes I am truly passionate about. Right now I am becoming involved in the Trevor Line, a certified hotline for those in the LGBT community who are struggling and have no place to turn.
I do provoke and initiate conversation, I don’t mind putting myself out there. Sometimes I’m controversial. I am sure that a lot of my viewers and supporters, when I was putting it out their about how I believe in marriage equality, didn’t agree with me. I told my children when they were growing up to listen to everyone and then form your own option. I think celebrities have a certain amount of responsibility in society and for the next generation.
5.) Some believe that LGBT pride celebrations are irrelevant now that the LGBT community has won so many victories and the nation is increasingly embracing the community as a whole. Others believe pride organizations are still important, perhaps now more than ever. What role do you think LGBT pride organizations should play in our post-marriage equality society?
A: I think it is about drawing attention, and that is why I have wanted GAY PRIDE to be featured on Vanderpump Rules for the fourth year now. There still is not the acceptance that we need. 40% of the homeless youth in America are LGBT due to the fact that so many people are thrown out of their homes after confronting their parents about their sexual orientation. Celebrations are still important to educate the community and are needed to until we change the statistics, because right now we are not a completely accepting society, especially about LGBT issues.