Too often anti-gay people are homophobic because they don’t think they know anyone gay. But statistics show that, well, we’re everywhere — there’s at least one of us in every family. We have power within our own families and communities to inspire change, and you can see that in these sisters, mothers and aunts who have inspired their high-profile relations. We can see their change in activism, on screen and in specific subcultures that don’t often have discussions on different sexualities.
This week, Jennifer Lopez told Access Hollywood that her gay aunt inspired her to create The Fosters for ABC Family, which is poised to be a pivotal show about an interracial lesbian couple who also happen to be mothers. (Yes, One Million Moms is already hating it and we haven’t even seen one episode.)
Cyndi Lauper is one of the biggest allies a gay girl could ask for, and maybe that’s because of her sister, Ellen. “I’ve always been close to my sister,” she told PFLAG. “I love my sister….and our mother taught us that if you’re different from each other, you’re still family. If you have to put it down to a very basic Italian-American saying: ‘you don’t turn your back on your own.'”
Eden Riegel isn’t the only one in Hollywood in her family. Her lesbian sister Tatiana Riegel is an editor of projects like Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, House, American Dreams and her sister’s series Imaginary Bitches. The siblings were featured in an Advocate profile in 2002 where Eden expressed her worry over what Tantiana would think about her lesbian role of Bianca on All My Children. But from that worry, she turned the character into something awesome: “I talked to them about making Bianca a three-dimensional character, making her very real and not defined only by her sexuality.”
50 Cent didn’t always understand his mom, Sabrina Jackson‘s relationship with women, but he told Perez Hilton she was a lesbian. “When you’re that small you don’t see things that would indicate there are other things going on,” he said of seeing her kiss other females. He also spoke about her during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Actress Kristanna Loken is an out bisexual, and she also has a gay sister, who attended the premiere of Bloodrayne with their parents in 2005. “I think because my sister’s a lesbian, there was a certain amount of underlying pressure that I have to be the one who has the big wedding and the picket fence and the whole thing,” Kristanna told us in 2009 of her wedding to her ex-husband. She’s since returned to dating women.
Lydia Cornell recently wrote a blog post in support of marriage equality, citing her sister Kathryn Korniloff as part of her inspiration. “My sister is gay, and she never made a choice, but that’s beside the point,” the actress and radio host wrote. “The marriage contract is a private contract between two individuals. How does it hurt anyone to let two souls honor their monogamy by allowing them the sanctity and dignity of marriage, as other human beings have a right to? Isn’t this in the Bill of Rights?”
Rosario Dawson often brings her mom Isabel Celeste as her date to events, as they’re super close. The actress once said she got scolded as a youngster because she would tell her peers how lesbians have sex. “I got into trouble at school because one of my friends said, ‘Lesbians do it with straws,'” she told T magazine. And I said, ‘I can tell you how lesbians do it, and there are no straws involved!’”
Former Vice President Dick Cheney‘s lesbian daughter Mary Cheney is likely to have inspired his change of heart on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. The staunch Republican expressed his interest in “reconsidering” a ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military back in 2010. The Chenes also released this statement after Mary married her partner: “Mary and Heather have been in a committed relationship for many years, and we are delighted that they were able to take advantage of the opportunity to have that relationship recognized. Mary and Heather and their children are very important and much loved members of our family and we wish them every happiness.”
Marie Osmond made headlines by speaking out about marriage equality for her daughter Jessica Blosil. As a Mormon, Marie might have surprised some, but she said on ABC News that she wants her people to love and honor themselves. “I’d love to see her do whatever she wants,” Marie said. “I desire everything for her she wants in life.”
Newt Gingrich‘s sister Candace Gingrich-Jones says she hopes he will eventually start to publicly support her and her partner. “He does not treat [my wife] Rebecca and myself any differently from my sister and her husband [at family gatherings]. We got a shower gift as well. For someone who has publicly and financially opposed marriage equality, he has not so far treated us any differently than a married couple…That’s the question that I ask myself, and many have asked me, ‘Does he believe the things he says or is he saying them as part of his political stands?’ Really, the bottom line is: I don’t like either of the possibilities there, and I don’t know what the actual answer is.”
Newt may be the exception to the rule (at least in a public forum) but if everyone could take a little bit of inspiration from their lesbian family member, think of how gay-friendly this world could be.