Today is Valentine's Day and, of course, sister girl left us right before the one holiday tailor-made for wanting to feel the heat with somebody, breaking down walls with the strength of love, and perhaps even finding that ever-elusive greatest love.
Celebrity deaths are rife with opportunities for wise-cracking and shade-throwing. Though it's rare when a celebrity bigger than Whitney Houston dies so suddenly, I am hoping that we can all resist engaging in some of our usual antics.
Let's not spend the next weeks trying to figure out what cocktail of drugs and booze brought down a mighty diva. Let's not replay that regrettable interview in which Diane Sawyer forced a woman with clear mental health issues to confront addiction before an audience of millions. Let's not allow ourselves to make crass jokes about crack, how it's whack and how Whitney beat anyone "to death." Yes, all of those cringe-worthy, sad, painful-to-watch moments are part Whitney's story.
But above all this, she wished us love.
Appropriately, on Facebook, a growing movement has begun to honor Whitney Houston's message of love by declaring February 14 a "Day to Always Love." It has emerged as an open place for all the music, joy and inspiration she brought into our lives. Please consider visiting the communityand leaving your own message for our friend, ally and loved one.
Whitney sang a soundtrack that followed an entire generation from childhood through adolescence and right up to adulthood. During that time, she became a gay icon. Whitney embraced us not just as fans buying her music--and yes, we are probably the entire reason It's Not Right, but it's Okay was such a big hit--but as close personal friends, as individuals worthy of our respect and privacy, and as a community who could use the support and advocacy of a megastar in our fight against HIV/AIDS. By doing what was right for gays and lesbians she was rewarded with persistent whisper campaigns that she herself was gay and had contracted HIV. Of all the rumors entertained about Whitney, this was the most hurtful. Perpetrated and circulated at the height of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s and 1990s, these selfish homophobes rejected the idea that a beautiful black woman or a wholesome all American girl-next-door like Whitney could find common cause, inspiration and even joy from a community who in their eyes were riddled with disease, sin and lust.
It took a true act of courageous love to reject such divisiveness then and it will take an act of love now to make sure the friendship between Whitney and our community is remembered for what it was.
Be sure to follow Out on your favorite social platform
DON'T MISS THE OUT100 SPECIAL 3 DAY MARATHON STARTING NOVEMBER 24TH!
Journey through the year’s influential Out100 – the most iconic and long-standing celebration of LGBTQ+ icons and allies – in a 1-hour television special spotlighting the LGBTQ+ people shaping the world today.