Saturday, June 10, 2017

Happy 95th Birthday Judy Garland

As the country prepares for the Equality March for Unity & Pride this weekend, it's notable that Hollywood legend and gay icon Judy Garland, who inspired us with dreams of rainbows long before we took up the symbol for ourselves, would have turned 95 today.

As a young gay, I knew Garland was one of the LGBT world's "high holies" in the pantheon of idols. I wasn't the biggest fan, but I appreciated the talent.

Getting older as a gay man, as an artist in the theatre, AND as I learned to raise my voice as an activist, when I came across this clip from Judy's 1960s TV show, I suddenly got it.

On December 13, 1963, Judy sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" in honor of the recent death of President John F. Kennedy.

Garland and Kennedy were friends and she had campaigned on his behalf.

According to Garland's daughter, Lorna Luft, at the taping of this performance Judy looked into the camera and said, "This is for you, Jack," but CBS edited it out as too political. Still, everyone knew what the song was about.

This remains my favorite performance ever by Garland. I see her vulnerability, her conviction, and her indomitable strength all at the same time.

 Like a sorcerer whose once awesome powers might have dimmed, through sheer force of will she again summons powerful artistry to pay honor to her friend.

For a brief, shining moment the magic returned.

The loss of the president and the inspiration of his promise is clear in her eyes. Check out the 3:10 mark as she stands strong and tall in her conviction.

THIS was why she was a star. This is why she remains in our consciousness.

With the Equality March for Unity & Pride this weekend, and pride events all over the country, I'm sure we'll all hold more than one rainbow in our hearts.

Happy birthday Judy Garland.

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