**Notice: If you are an actress who has been sent this article, please scroll to below the solid line to see the fan letter that is intended for you.**
I’ve never written a fan letter. Mostly, this is because I believe I have a realistic perspective of how I fit into this world. To wit: I am nobody; just one more anonymous name floating around in the vast ocean of humanity. When I think about what my relative insignificance means for contacting a celebrity, who to me are like minor planets in a much cooler star system, I think, “What celebrity would possibly want a letter from me? What do I have to offer that’s worth reading?” I don’t have a deeply touching, personal coming out story that would perhaps briefly uplift and inspire the recipient of my fan letter, nor a tangible gift to be enjoyed, nor a role or a paid appearance to offer.
And yet, although it feels like I have nothing to offer in a fan letter, I have recently realized that there are some fan letters that I desperately want to write. There are actresses who have played queer roles on TV or in film to whom I’d like to express my deepest admiration, my deepest respect, and most of all, my deepest thanks.
These are actresses who I’ll never meet, who will never see my face or hear my voice or know anything about the person behind the name, but to whom I want to say with all my heart, “Thank you for touching my life. Thank you for giving me something that I have longed for all my life: a lesbian character to treasure and enjoy, whose story contributes in a positive way to the lesbian community, and for those precious moments on screen that make my heart sing with joy. I ask nothing of you but the chance to convey how much I value your work.” Yes, I know, what I’m really saying is that I made the obvious discovery of exactly why people write fan letters in the first place. Clearly I’m not an uber-genius.
While pondering what exactly I would write in my fan letters, I made a further realization: that if I wrote five or even ten actresses who played lesbian roles, their letters would all look very, very similar. While their performances might span continents and decades, languages and formats, the feelings of gratitude they have inspired in me and the words I would use to thank them are the same. Not because there is anything generic about the actresses themselves or their performances, but because in my view, the things that truly captivate us—and why—are transcendent. Each actress has contributed something to the lesbian community that is unique, but the impacts of those contributions are similar.
And then, a third realization: even if I wrote fan letters to all of my favorite actresses who have played gay roles and tried to send them, I might not be able to. How could I realistically find physical addresses in the UK, Brazil, Spain, etc., or email addresses where I might hope that the letters would reach the eyes of the intended recipients? The prospect was daunting enough to almost be a total deterrent…until I remembered the power of the online lesbian community.
So, readers, I’m asking your help, and asking you to participate in this adventure as well. Below is a fan letter that I would mail to any of my favorite actresses who have played a lesbian or bisexual role, if only I knew where to send it. If you like the letter and feel that it should be spread, please find a way to get it to your favorite actress. Tweet it, tag it, email it, mail it, whatever, but if you tweet it, please tag me @Lez_Dish so that I can see where it went (and add your own personalized thanks in 150 characters!). I would like to know which actresses our community thinks went above and beyond in their roles and really inspired and impacted us. Let’s show some love to the women who have contributed to giving our community stories we can enjoy, because they deserve it.
I have a very silly wish in my life and it is this: I wish I had the magic words to weave stories that would inspire people and uplift them. I wish my words could build out of thin air all of the stories that the lesbian community has in meager supply: tales and fables, enrapturing romances and thrilling suspense, all with lesbian protagonists. A small library of stories just about my people to which lesbians could point and say, “These are ours. These are our stories.” But I don’t have those magic words. I’m writing this letter to you because you already have created just the type of story I would write. Whether or not you were aware when you took an LGBT role of the impact that you might have, you have succeeded in creating a character and a story that are everything I dreamed of for my community. Through your acting, you have woven a story that inspired me and uplifted me, and I want to thank you for that.
Some of my job as a writer for AfterEllen is to understand how various pieces of LGBT representation in the entertainment industry puzzle come together. And so humbly, I think I can use this background as a lens to explain why you, your character, and this magnificent story that you created, is so important to the lesbian community and why it has affected me—and all your other fans—so deeply.
When I was growing up, lesbians were almost invisible in the public sphere. In my whole library, there were only three fiction books with lesbian main characters, and there were so few lesbian main characters in movies that by the time I was in college, I had watched almost every single one of them. And my experience was not so long ago at all, but rather the early 2000s, barely more than ten years ago! What we were missing, to a large degree, were what I call “great” love stories, which is to say the types of stories that make viewers believe in the transcendent power of love; the Romeo and Juliet-type stories. I have searched all my life for good lesbian characters and great lesbian love stories because I believe the lesbian community needs both of them. In your character and her storyline, I found both.
I have watched hundreds of lesbian characters. I have watched the bad, the mediocre, and the good. In all that I have seen, there have been very few characters (and their accompanying storylines) who have left me truly captivated. Characters whose scenes I have watched over and over again. Characters who were so well acted that I believed every emotion they experienced and felt those emotions with them. Characters who made me believe that there could be such a thing as true love. You created a beautiful, vivacious character with strength, depth, and passion that stands head and shoulders above other lesbian characters, and on top of that, through that character you helped tell a beautiful love story. You have given the lesbian community the type of unconditional, great love story that eluded us for years and that we desperately need. For these unimaginable gifts, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
If you are thinking, “This letter is not addressed to me personally. It’s nice but surely it doesn’t quite apply to me perfectly,” you are mistaken. It is exactly meant for you, I assure you. I have watched your scenes and loved them just as much the tenth time as the first. So thank you for creating a character and story that the lesbian community can cherish. And more selfishly, thank you for being so beautiful, so radiant that I enjoy watching your scenes over and over again just to see how you portray your character. And finally, thank you for taking the time to read this letter, written humbly by this fan. May you find success and happiness in all your endeavors.