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  • Samira Burnside

2024 Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson on the LGBTQ+ Community

Today, I sat down with 2024 Presidential Candidate Marianne Williamson to discuss all things LGBTQ+, from what her administrations stance on the anti-lgbtq+ bills sweeping the country would be to her history with the community during the AIDS epidemic, we talk it all. Marianne is currently running in the Democratic primary, and you can find out more about her campaign and policy stances here: https://marianne2024.com/


Without further-ado, here's my interview with Marianne Williamson:




 

TRANSCRIPT:



Interviewer: So first question here, can you just give us a little bit of background on your personal relationship to the LGBTQ plus community, including Project Angel Food?



Marianne Williamson: I, I began my career in Los Angeles in 1983, and I was giving lectures on a set of books called A Course in Miracles. So I had known gay people in my life, but I had never been, Part of a tribe that included a lot of gay people.


I'd just known gay people. It was not, I didn't have any really close relationships at that time. When I began speaking, um, on a Course in Miracles, that was in 1983 by 1985 for sure, but I think probably started in 1984 as well. Aids just burst onto the scene and it burst onto the scene. I've likened it.


The it, it was like covid in the sense of the panic. Ubiquitous panic. It was different than covid in that, covid was easy to get, but you would probably survive. Mm-hmm. AIDS was hard to get, but you probably would not survive. Mm-hmm. Now gay men, and I don't know exactly how, But I do know why the organized institutional religions were very quiet.


They had to work through a lot of prejudice, homophobia, et cetera. So there was this silence. Western medicine, you didn't get a sense. They weren't trying. They were trying, but you just got that- they just couldn't even believe it, that they were playing all these cards. But you got a sense they were trying.


But you know, like with covid, they didn't have a cure. And I was at that time, a 31 year old woman and I was speaking over this philosophical research society in an area of LA called Los Feliz about a God who is love and loves you no matter what. And the fact that where there's love, miracles happen. So gay men in Los Angeles at that time really gave me my career.


They started coming to my lectures. And more and more people started coming and we grew and then we moved to a church and then, and other people came too. But that was, I think it was a time when it felt like there were more gay men there than anyone else. Mm-hmm. And it was almost like, you know, you couldn't go clubbing anymore.


You couldn't go partying anymore. But there was a place where everybody sort of hung out on Tuesday nights and so forth. But then the situation got more dire and I started doing these support groups. There was also a woman named Louise Hay , who was doing something similar at that time called the Hay Rod. So I was doing lectures three times a week.


I was doing all these, all these support groups. And then I had this idea that we should rent a house and we called it the LA Center for living. And at this house, People would volunteer to give- do therapy. People would volunteer to give massages, which was a big deal, and people could just have a place during the day to hang out because people who had been infected, they weren't working any longer. They were just hanging out at home all day. So we'll have a house. We rented a house, we had a fundraiser. We rented this house and then, After a while, I remember, and we used to, people used to come in would cook meals. Mm-hmm. People would just, you know, they'd get therapy, they'd do support groups.


You know, you just weren't alone. Somebody else would be there to talk to. And then one day I walked in and I said, where's David? Or where's Aiden? I can't remember. And they said, well, he, he can't leave his house. He's too weak. And I said, well, how's he going to eat? He said, I don't know. I said, well, we just need to take a meal to him.


And then I noticed how many people that was true of. Now at this point, remember we're talking about Los Angeles. We're talking about people like Bette Midler, Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson died. There were gay people in LA, the contribution actors, directors, filmmakers, um, artists of every kind set designers, clothes designers,


photographers, has, has always been in the arts a greater contribution than their numbers would indicate. So Hollywood was freaked and Hollywood totally opened its heart. So when we started the project Angel Food, it was meant to just be one project at LA Center for Living. But Hollywood really embraced it because they could understand what it was.


We would say, well, we're giving non-medical support services to people living with HIV. And they'd say, oh, that's nice. But then when we said we're taking food to people, they're like, okay, let me write a check until we started project angel Food, which now has fed over 16 million meals, and during that time


it was. Terrible. But there was also something when all you have, when all you have is that we can love each other. All we have is that we can be there for each other. All you have is that we'll take you to the support group to go to the hospital. We'll be with you. If you die, we'll be with you.


It puts you in a place where life is very real, but also something very beautiful the- It marks you Forever. And at that time also, and then when I had my daughter, That was in 1990. This was before - gay men were just starting to adopt children, but it was rare. So there was a lot of, oh my god we're having a baby! It felt like a community baby. So there were wonderful times too. And then we opened a New York Center for Living, Manhattan Center for Living in New York.


Someone else opened one in palm Beach. And at that time there was God's love We deliver doing something very similar in, um, New York, a woman named Gonga Stone. And there was also a program in San Francisco, I can't remember the name. Also started by woman.



 

Interviewer: Wow. Yeah. I know it must have been a lot at that time. I know people used to be afraid to even go near AIDS patients. Um, but. Obviously changed a lot and kind of going from then to now, I know that a lot of lgbtq plus Democrats feel kind of scorched by previous leaders. For instance, the current administration promised the past the Equality Act in the first 100 days, but that hasn't come through. How would your administration's approach to LGBTQ policy and policy in general differ?


Marianne Williamson: Well, something I'm very concerned about, we all are and we have a reason to be, is the transgender community. Mm-hmm. I think that the transgender community, unfortunately, are a little bit of a canary in a coal mine that any group is under, is under attack really, in many ways.


So the first thing I would do is designate transgender Americans as a, as a, for special protection, and I would also direct the Department of Justice to vigorously pursue and prosecute any transgressions on the civil rights of transgender people. I think for me, you know, I remember even during those days, uh, AIDS and then also conversations.


At that time, marriage equality was a big deal, and for me, in order for the United States to repair itself, we have to go back to our first principles and our first principles are articulated in the Declaration of Independence that all men are created equally, and the expansion of the franchise of democracy is how historically, We've gone from that doesn't just mean men, it also means women.


It doesn't just mean white, it also means black. It doesn't just means straight, it also means gay and so forth. So the more and more we can open our minds, open our hearts to the realization that hey, this is what America is. Doesn't matter if you don't like them, doesn't matter if you don't agree with them, whether it's their religion, whether it's their color, whether it's their sexuality back off, that should be the role of the government if they're not hurting anyone.


The advocacy here is for anyone, if they're an American, they're protected and they are allowed to be who they wanna be, do what they want to do. Uh, and unless they're hurting someone else, uh, it's nobody else's business. And I also realize that there are forces in this country, not just about transgender, but about LGBTQ in general,


that would try to imply at best and actually come out and say it at worst that they are trying to harm, let's say, our children. I would stand enough to that very vigorously, and I would say otherwise, I know that uh, any democratic administration at this point, probably even, even, um, uh, uh, Republican administrators at this point have gay officials, but I think it's time for a transgender to have a good, uh, a good place in a presidential administration.


I like what that would look like. Do you know? Um, a woman named, Maebe A. Girl who is running for Congress in, uh, Southern California at Silver Light Community of LA. She would be the first, uh, transgender person in Congress, and I've supported her campaign and she's supported mine, and she's really somethin.


 

Interviewer: And on that note of the protection of transgender individuals from a federal level, what would a Williamson administration do to combat the wave of anti-trans and anti LGBTQ plus bills that are currently sweeping through the U.S, such as bills that force trans people into the bathrooms that don't match their gender identity and the bills that ban gender affirming care for youth?


Marianne Williamson: Unfortunately, well, not unfortunately that we have a federal system, but unfortunately a lot of really draconian stuff is coming out of these state houses. That's where you're seeing this. You're seeing it in very, very red states. Um, there does become a limit to what, uh, the federal government can do.


Federal government cannot come, um, unless there's federal legislation. Um, but I would use the bully pulpit quite a lot. I would speak to it. I can promise you I would speak to it. And one of the reasons I want to be president is because I want to do whatever I can to inspire the better angels of our nature.


We've had a president who had harnessed the lowest aspects of American consciousness for his own political purposes. I would like to help harness the highest aspects, and I think. At our best, we are, it...it's beyond tolerance, because tolerance still implies judgment. I think at our best, we really wanna live and let live and we need to be reminded of that.



And we also need to be reminded that that principle is at the core of what it means to be an American. Out of one of the first principles articulated is out of many, one, there were many everything, sex, sexuality, gender, religion, color. But we are unified in these common principles. And the common principle is this country belongs to all of us.


This country belongs to all of us, and that's very profound when you think about it, whether rich, whether you poor, black, brown, white, gay, straight, binary, nonbinary, it belongs to all of us. Nobody gets to lay claim to rights that others do not have. That's not supposed to happen here. And as president, I would remind people of this constantly.


 

Interviewer: Yeah. And I mean we've talked about, you know, gay adoption becoming more prevalent and the changes since the eighties. We've come a long way, but there's still a ways left to go. What protections, acts, or policies would you fight for once in office that you believe are necessary for getting to that stage of equal rights for everyone?


Marianne Williamson: Well, I would certainly, as the president, do what I could to be influential in supporting the passage of the Equality Act. Like I said, special protection for transgender. My DOJ would be very aware that I want vigorous prosecution of any tra- uh, civil rights transgressions. I spoke few months ago, I went down to East Tennessee University, to speak at a rally because they passed the law down there about, Drag shows.


I mean, it's just ridiculous, but it's not ridiculous. There's something very dark about it.


 

Interviewer: Yeah, absolutely. And you talked about just declaring trans trans murder and suicide rates specifically as a national emergency. And in order to do that, allocating educational healthcare and social supports to stop the issue on your campaign statements, what would that look like in effect, and also, what agencies or organizations would you see as the most reliable partners to gauge the efficacy of those supports and policies?


Marianne Williamson: First of all, I think it's a civil rights issue. I think it's a civil rights issue, and therefore legal protection is necessary. And you know, there is a consciousness and a culture within agencies, and I think that my presidency would be well known for my eyes being on the sparrow. There are very rich, powerful people.


First of all, there are very rich, powerful gay people in this country to do. It's not like there's not, but in general, there are people in this country, but even among the rich, powerful gay people, which there many, they can protect themselves. But any people that have to live their lives as many do in America today in fear, would know that in me, they have a president who is watching, who cares, and if anybody's coming after you, they're gonna have to go through me.


 

Interviewer: Yeah, absolutely. I know, this messages might land with a lot of people, but there's been a seemingly concerted effort by a lot of mainstream media, by some mainstream media outlets to diminish the seriousness of your campaign. What can people who want to make sure that debates happen and hear from all potential candidates such as yourself do to make sure that happens?


Marianne Williamson: First of all, thank you for asking. Secondly, you know, Women are told, right? We're told, if you are mugged in an alley, just start screaming. There's certain situations in life to start making noise, and that's what you can do for me. Mention it on your social media, mention it to your friend. It's an issue of democracy.


And I gotta tell you, before I ran for president, I've certainly been aware the depths of racism and homophobia and antisemitism and Islamophobia. I never saw misogyny the way I've seen it since running for president. There really is an institutional resistance in this country. I guess it's because we've never had a president who was a woman yet.


Maybe once we have one. People won't- I don't know what it is, but I do need help now. And the help that I, I need is simply by people saying, you know, it's just kind of like, whether it's with gay people, transgender, racist, or whatever, you learn as part of your political maturity. Don't be quiet if you hear a racist comment.


Don't stay silent if you hear a homophobic comment. And I think we've gotten there with misogyny, you know, like, would you say that if she was a man, would that attack stick if she were a man? Um, so pretty much anybody, just what you feel in your heart if you feel I should be in this contest if you feel-


clearly everything you and I are talking about here today speaks indirectly to the dangers of fascism. And I believe that at this time in our history, we should be having a very, very deep conversation among ourselves. Who would be the best person to beat it back? And that's what a campaign is supposed to be.


A campaign is a long job interview. You're interviewing me for a job. That's how it's supposed to be. And I think that the American people should have equal exposure to anyone who's running, whether you're interviewing the president, whether you're interviewing Bobby Kennedy, whether you're interviewing me or anyone else who might run.


And at a time like this, I think. That democratic process is very important. So if even if somebody says, well, I don't know if I'm gonna vote for her, but I think she should be in the conversation, her voice should not be suppressed because no one should be, which is really what I'm saying to you. We have to stand up for each other here.


So that's what somebody can do. Just don't be quiet about it and. You know, like I say, when you hear something, say something. If you hear something about me, and you know, I know that that was an anonymous tweet on Twitter, but do we really know that? You might say that, have you actually read her books? Sign a petition about my being-


I don't know. Do whatever your heart tells you to do. But just know that whatever you do, I'm grateful.


 

Interviewer: In Parting, is there anything you would want to say to our viewers, both in Florida and throughout the United States?


Marianne Williamson: You have a problem in Florida, you have a problem, but know, number one, that the eyes of the nation are on you. The eyes of the nation are on you because there is a figure, a political figure of great power there who does express both in his attitudes and in his policy positions that horrify many of us.


But I also want you to know that the country is not only looking at him, the country is looking at you, and you inspire a lot of us. You are noticed, those of you who are choosing to remain in Florida, that it would be easy to say, I'm out here. Those of you who are choosing to remain in Florida and take a stand in solidarity like you're doing right now.


And you're doing it, you, it's, you're doing it for your lives. Please know, it doesn't go unnoticed. Keep it up. You are inspiring more people than you know, and more people than you know don't think anybody should be messing with you. More people than you know thinks: "Go live your life. Be who you wanna be, do what you wanna do."


And God created all of us equal and you, there's nothing about your choices that we judge. There's nothing that your about your choices that make any of us feel of those I'm talking about that agree with you, that any of your rights should be diminished because of your choices. That's not what we do in America.


So God bless you. That would be my message. God bless you. And if I'm ever the President, You're gonna... you're gonna feel... You're... you're gonna know, because I have to tell you something. Many years ago, gay men gave me my career and I'll never forget it.



 

This article was written by Samira Burnside. You can email her for inquires or leads at sburnside@thequeernotion.com.


You can find out more about Marianne Williamsons campaign at https://marianne2024.com/ .

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