With Gay Pride celebrations happening in cities all across North America this week and the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to abolish the Defense of Marriage Act, which sought to prevent gay marriages from being recognized on a federal level, I see no better time to express my sincerest gratitude to Martha Stewart and her team for being important champions of gay rights.
It is no secret that Martha is a gay icon. Subjects like flower arranging, catering, baking, decorating and just general, all-round fabulousness are the cornerstones of Martha's gay allure. She has been captivating a wide gay audience since the early 1980s, sharing her creative vision with this curious and equally-creative demographic through her various media and merchandise. A substantial portion of Martha's male readers and viewers are gay (I certainly count myself among them!) and a relatively large percentage of her male colleagues are gay as well. Many of the male readers of this blog - the most vociferous ones, naturally - are gay and her influence on gay culture remains indelible, although it has never been accurately described or acknowledged
Just yesterday, to show their support for the Supreme Court's decision to abolish the Defense of Marriage Act, Martha Stewart Weddings posted this photo to its Facebook page, saying, "We support love!"
Evidence of Martha's support for gay rights abounds in the pages of her magazines and the archived episodes of her television shows. I can think of at least ten articles in Martha Stewart Living magazine that have proudly showcased the homes, gardens and businesses of gay couples in the United States. The fact that these couples are gay is editorially incidental, but the cultural impact of sharing their stories in a mainstream, internationally-circulated magazine is vastly important. Putting the ordinary lives of ordinary gay men and women under a title like "Living" is hugely meaningful - for the brand, for her audience (gay and straight) and for the much wider sphere of lifestyle media. Imagine a young man, perhaps confused about his place in the world, seeing people like him leading successful, happy lives together. Imagine the importance of seeing that positive image and how it may influence this young man's vision of himself in the world and his future goals of happiness.
The truly exceptional work, however, belongs to Martha Stewart Weddings magazine, which was the first mainstream American weddings magazine to showcase a gay wedding. That was in 2009. Since then, there has been a gay wedding featured in almost every issue, including the marriage of Martha's nephew Christopher to his partner Tim Long, which took place at Martha's farm in Bedford. Martha Stewart Weddings has been the leading pioneer in profiling gay weddings in its pages, widening the aperture of inclusion by featuring love - in all its forms.
To show my appreciation, I have written to GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) to suggest they nominate Martha Stewart for their annual Excellence in Media Award, which is presented to a new media personality each year. Former recipients have included Barbara Walters, Joy Behar, Glenn Close, Julianne Moore, Diane Sawyer, Billy Crystal, Harvey Weinstein and many others. I think Martha deserves to be on this list.
Thank you, Martha, and to all the editors of Martha Stewart's publications and the producers of her television shows for being inclusive, for being brave, for being so inspiring to me and so many other gay men and women.