Meryl's Inspiring Speech.
On Saturday night, when Meryl Streep received the National Ally for Equality Award from the Human Rights Campaign, she gave a fiery, passionate speech in which she dedicated the award to her transgender and gay teachers, friends, and colleagues. She spoke especially about how influential two of her teachers were to her while growing up in New Jersey in the 1950’s and 1960’s.
“Standing out, being different was like drawing a target on your forehead.” She told the audience, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “You had to have a special kind of courage to do it. Some of my teachers were obliged to live their whole lives hidden, covertly. But my sixth- and seventh-grade music teacher, Paul Grossman, was one of the bravest people I knew.”
Ms. Streep explained that Mr. Grossman transitioned to become “one of the first transgender women in the country,” and as a result, was fired, after 30 years of teaching. She took the case to the courts, and lost for wrongful termination based on sex discrimination, but was able to obtain a disability pension. In 1976, the Supreme Court refused to hear her case.
“She was a garrulous, cantankerous, terrific teacher, and she never taught again; but her case set the stage for many discrimination cases that followed.” Ms. Streep said.
At the time, Ms. Gossman told the NY Times, that she made $14,300 a year as a music teacher, and ended up on food stamps for six months.
Also mentioned was her piano teacher, George Vauss, an 80-year-old, who lived with his partner, Phil, for over 50 years, in a little house that was “filled with music, birds and exotica: collectibles from their trips through Central and South America.” She quipped that she wasn’t going to introduce all of her gay teachers, “just some of the most influential personalities in my past, the memorable people who made me an artist and who lived, unnecessarily, under duress.”
Ms. Streep then spoke of “fundamentalists, of all stripes, everywhere,” who are fuming, because of the rights won by people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community. Rights that the courts and society finally caught up with and recognized.
The speech, like the one she gave when receiving a life achievement award at the Golden Globes also criticized President Trump, who, on the morning after the Golden Globes, took to twitter to call her “overrated.”
“If we live through this precarious moment, if his catastrophic instinct to retaliate doesn’t lead us to nuclear winter, we will have much to thank our current leader for.” She said about the President. “He will have woken us up to how fragile freedom is...to how it all can be ignored.”
Calling Mr. Trump a self-dealer, she pointed out how, “The whip of the executive, through a Twitter feed, can lash and intimidate, punish and humiliate, delegitimize the press and imagined enemies with spasmodic regularity and easily provoked predictability.”
Towards the end, she spoke of having a target on her forehead, and “troll attacks and armies of brownshirt bots.” She did not elaborate on the term, brownshirt, but it was the name given to a member of Hitler’s early Naxi militia.
“We owe it to the pioneers of the LGBTQ movement, like Paula Grossman, and to the people on the frontlines of all civil-rights movements, not to let them down.” She said, and ended with, “You have no choice, but you have to speak up and stand up and act up.”
President Trump has yet to respond from his Twitter account.