On Thursday Match 27th the LGBT political group Liberty PA officially announced its endorsement of Hillary Rodham Clinton as its choice for Presidential Nominee. This was perhaps not monumental news, as our community seems to favor Mrs. Clinton over the other esteemed candidates. Woody’s was however treated to a personal appearance by Chelsea Clinton. Normally, I find large groups to hear one or two people speak rather tedious. Honestly, I only made up my mind to go that evening. At first I was not impressed. The security seemed lacking and I feared for Chelsea’s safety. (Yes, I have a very dramatic imagination.) Furthermore I had not eaten and a pair of young men covered in Hillary stickers seemed to consider the cheese and fruit plate their own personal buffet. Then there were recordings – stylized as cell phone messages at large – from those supporting both the Hillary and Obama camps. I found these impersonal and wanted some cheese: sustenance to keep me going. The boys however weren’t leaving the Gruyere and grapes any time soon.
Then she finally came onstage, to a platform normally supporting drag queens and DJs, not a former ‘First Kid’ my own age that I felt connected too. Regardless of the setting what Chelsea instantly e xpressed to the audience was the sense of commitment to daughter and family that Mrs. Clinton has kept consistent throughout Chelsea’s life. I (and surely others have) could crassly call this an ‘angle.’ In other words Mrs. Clinton is spinning her dedication to her family as part of her campaign. However, that was not the case. Chelsea Clinton was speaking out of convincingly personal experience, out of love for mother, candidate and country. She was not a puppet on a string, wired to follow a speechwriter or PR manager’s advice. She spoke on the issues dear to the hearts of the gay community, the promise of eventual gay marriage and civil unions, universal healthcare and the related issue of cheap, imported medications from Canada. To which she assured us her mother planned to move forward with righting what we surely consider ‘these wrongs.’ She also assured us that her mother plans to implement a system similar to our European – politically – cousins, in that all citizens of a democracy are covered.
She also reminded those present that the HIV-pandemic has evolved. The current administration’s cuts in sexual education, testing and condom distribution on college and high school campuses was cited as one of the contributing factors. Everyone cheered, jumped and stood on higher ground to see her! I saw my opportunity and went for the cheese plate but was intercepted by a friend’s hello and by the time the cheering ended…the cheese was blocked. An embargo if you will.
Then came the big one, perhaps bigger than the gay marriage or healthcare question. The war in Iraq and ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ Her mother would begin a careful withdraw of military presence in Iraq, something we have happily known about for quite some time. Her mother would not hastily withdraw, causing more chaos than what we have now. In terms of the latter question about gays in the military she assured us her mother would repeal it, which was met with cheers. I think this is a very important question, and I am glad it was asked in Philadelphia where we inaugurated both the American Revolution and marched in front of Independence Hall for Gay Rights in the 1960s. Yet, there was one naysayer who reminded Chelsea that her own father had drafted this legislation, thought to be a panacea of the gays in the military question. Sadly, we know this has backfired. People have been dishonorably discharged, harassed or tormented into an early retirement. Effectively the person was saying to Chelsea, “Your father created that law! So now your mother is going to overturn it?”
Chelsea did not flinch and responded, “Didn’t your dad ever do anything wrong in the past?”
Checkmate! It was a brilliant move and double-entendre on her part to reply exactly how she did. A few days earlier Ms. Clinton was asked about the infamous affair her father had with Monica Lewinsky. Some opponents have twisted this from a woman and mother forgiving of her husband into a power play. Chelsea had never been asked this before and I must say her reaction was not as cool as I would have liked. She paced, said ‘Wow,’ circled the floor. She was caught off-guard. She said something about it being ‘none of your business.’ At first I was mad at her for her reaction, more emotional than intellectual and political but I quickly understood the merit of her nervous reaction. She had never been coached how to reply should that question arise.
Perhaps…this designed her answer in Philly!
She proved to be more than a representative of her mother’s campaign. She even blithely answered questions about her perfect highlights. Chelsea Clinton was witty, cool, engaging and very honest. When a member of the audience screamed out “F*%^ Bush” towards the end of her appearance she did not shy away from that remark. I was more chagrined than she was; I closed my eyes, I sipped my martini. I love my community but hate anything that might otherwise negate our agenda! Also, as a person that has shaken hands with both her mother and her father, a person who voted for Hillary when I lived in New York and as someone who sat only five seats away from Monica Lewinsky at the opening of ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ in the Spring of 1999 I feel connected to the Clintons. (I even changed my seat at the theater during the second act!) However, once again, she did not flinch.
Instead she replied, “I want no part of that! I just want him out!”
The audience cheered! If anyone in that room was undecided then I can only contribute it to two things: one) they are a die-hard supporter of McCain or Obama or two) they were unmoved by the spirit of family and dedication to country that Chelsea wholeheartedly promised us should her mother become the first ‘Madame President.’
Now, more than ever, I can proudly say that Hillary Clinton has my vote!
Yes, even if I didn’t get any cheese.
NOTE: For photos of the event, check out the PhillyGayCalendar Photo Gallery