When Sara Ramirez isn’t repairing broken bones or melting your heart as out doctor Callie Torres on Grey’s Anatomy, she’s busy looking out for your liver through the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation, a nonprofit organization in which she serves as a board member.
Created and named after the loss of her "gay husband" and best friend, Ramirez is equally passionate about liver health as she is for gay rights. Ahead of Monday’s inaugural Broadway Takes the Runway: An Evening of Fashion and Song fundraiser — in which the Tony winner will take the stage and sing show tunes — AfterEllen.com caught up with Ramirez to talk about her philanthropy, gay rights and, yes, what’s next for primetime’s leading lesbian couple.
AfterEllen.com: What does it feel like to be adored by countless lesbians?
AE: Where does your support for gay rights come from?
Then I graduated and quickly moved into the theater world, met Al (Rodriguez), who became my best friend right away. It’s always been a part of my life. It’s the world that I live in, it’s the world that I know and love. It’s what I’ve always been around and known. To me, because I’ve experienced that kind of life, it’s always interesting when you meet people who have had the absolute opposite experience and haven’t been around that or it’s so foreign. What ever other people feel, it’s always really interesting to me.
I hope with this story line and with Callie’s journey and the relationship with Arizona that we can just blow the top off of it and be like, "This is the world we live in." There are several interesting walks of life that we’re talking about here. Arizona’s a character that’s always known that she’s a lesbian; Callie has only dated and been in love with men and now she’s understanding that she can also love and be with a woman. I think that’s an interesting walk of life, too, which is not necessarily the "I was born a lesbian, I’ve always known I was a lesbian." It’s just as important to tell that story, too.
AE: What are your thoughts on the current state of lesbian visibility on TV?
In terms of specifically lesbian characters, The L Word was really the first show that showcased that and since then Grey’s Anatomy and we’ve seen several primetime TV shows try to incorporate lesbian characters into their shows and even pilots, I feel like it’s become almost mandatory in a way. I’m hopeful and I’m grateful that people are starting to realize how important it is to have a well-represented show and a cast that really represents the world that we live in.