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Women's Night '99
Saturday, March 6, 1999
Gillian Anderson's Presentation Speech
On Saturday, March 6, 1999, Gillian Anderson presented Anne Heche with a Creative Integrity award from the Gay and Lesbian Community Center. The event: "Women's Night '99" By Women... For Women... About Women.

Ladies and Gentlemen, you know her best as Agent Dana Scully on the hit series, "The X-Files" and she is currently starring in "Playing by Heart" with Angelina Jolie. Presenting tonight's Creative Integrity Award, please welcome the Emmy Award winning star of film and television, Gillian Anderson!

[very loud cheering while Gillian giggles]

"I am gonna pee my pants! Somebody handed me some German chocolate backstage so I brought that out, just in case and I got this thing in case I can't figure out how to do these things, but....okay, okay, in all seriousness...Oh my God! How can I get serious? I have to get serious now. This is very serious business here...Hi! I gotta say I am very happy to be here. I am having so much fun. You guys are just great. So thanks for having me! Okay, now I am going to get serious. All right. And I have to turn my head from one side to another 'cos it doesn't look like...okay, just reminding myself of what I have to do. Okay! I can't! I'm sorry! This is serious, what's here! You can't see it 'cus it's only one side of it but it's very serious. Umm, excuse me...okay. Oh, I just burped! Did you hear the burp? I burped. Okay. All right. Here we go. Did somebody say, okay, go? Is it going to be like an 'end now' thing? Okay this is serious! All right! Okay! I'm sorry! Okay, all right.

Okay, since Anne asked me to present her with the Gay and Lesbian's Center's Creative Integrity Award, my mind has been churning and fretting over what I might say, about how I might offer any insight into this fabulous powerhouse of a woman. And then I watched Kathy Najimy presenting Ellen with the same award and I think that was probably the worst mistake I could have made. I have to keep telling myself that she is a comedian and people pay her to do what she does and that I didn't have to be really funny and everything. And basically she said everything about Ellen that I'd want to about Anne, and more, and with so much wit and grace that I was literally rendered speechless. So I have had to erase that information from my mind and just speak the truth whether it overlaps Kathy's words or not.

I first met Anne and Ellen at last year's Lilith Fair. I had decided wouldn't it be fun to treat a small group of my female friends to an afternoon celebrating women. Now, it was a hot day, and it proceeded to get even hotter as we sat in the bleachers amongst the predominantly female, predominantly lesbian crowd. And I started to get my first feel.........I started to get my first feel for the appreciation, I will say appreciation is a good, safe word - for what this community feels for the character of Agent Dana Scully that I play on TV. Now, a lot of people have accused Scully of being gay. She's single, she's strong, independent, suit-wearing female who chooses not to shack up with whom some people consider the sexiest male on TV. And all I have to say to this is thank you.

Now as I said, it was getting increasingly hotter out there in the bleachers, and my companions thought wouldn't it be a good idea for us to make our way towards the celebrity safe zone. So we did, and there stage left, right beside us stood two fabulously sexy, fabulously entwined women bumping and grinding along with us to the Indigo Girls. And they were so open and so in love and so free, shame-free, carefree - that needless to say, I was distracted from what was going on onstage and I kept peeking over at their bliss and thinking 'Aahh, isn't that nice.'

Well, after a while, they took pity on my pathetic gawking and they tore themselves away from each other - just for a moment - to introduce themselves and we were, in that moment, initiated as friends.

Now, I can't stand here and talk about Anne without sharing with you examples of her limitless generosity and charity. And nowhere else has this charity been more evident than in the gay and lesbian community. Now, I know that Anne would prefer that I not bring attention to this, but I think it's just too important not to celebrate.

For the last eight months, twice a week, Anne has been working with kids at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center - kids who have been abandoned by their families and friends because they are gay. Anne, quietly and without publicity has, through acting, writing and playing workshops, been helping these kids to build a sense of self, of self-worth, of importance; so that regardless of their present situation, they have the foundation of knowledge that they are perfect, worthy, capable human beings who can love unconditionally regardless of their sexual preference. In short, transforming their lives.

On top of that, last October - once again without fanfare - Anne and Ellen, propelled by the Matthew Shepard tragedy, made hundreds of phone calls and pleas, rallying to get their friends and co-workers to join them as they spoke out on the Capitol steps against the injustices against gays and lesbians that still permeate our society today.

This award that Anne is receiving this evening is about integrity. Integrity in life, in work and in service. And I believe that above and beyond her altruistic acts, Anne's integrity lies in her determination to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but.

Unfortunately, as Anne has experienced over the past couple of years, this degree of honesty can be too much for people to stomach. It makes them uncomfortable, afraid, and judgmental.

When Ellen came out, Anne had a choice and she made a choice. She chose to stand up and speak her own truth; to stand up proudly for who she is in this moment. And her decision to do so was no less courageous, no less consciousness changing, and life affirming, and lifesaving than Ellen's.

She could have chosen to stand off in the wings and let Ellen face the fire alone. She could have kept silent, refused interviews, not risked everything, not come out. In fact, as I understand it, Ellen warned her in the beginning, 'Get as far away from me as you possibly can. You have no idea what you're getting yourself into.' But she chose to speak out and to scream from the highest podium in today's media driven society that she had fallen in love with a woman.

And now, as I am recounting this, in this dramatic way, it reeks of 'So what?' So what if a woman loves another woman instead of a man? What's the big deal? But it is a big deal. And the big deal is exemplified by the big response.

Response from the press, which is ultimately the voice of the heterosexual community - Oh my gosh! Can you believe it? How can this happen? It doesn't make sense!

Response from the studios - She is going to ruin our movies! Will she ever work in this town again? Is she still sexy? Does a gay actress give good box office? ....that was my only joke, thank you very much. Let me repeat that! I think that is a really good one - Does a gay actress give good box office? (crowd cheers) I think that's pretty damn good!

And response from some in the gay and lesbian community - That it wasn't for real. It won't last. She going to hurt Ellen.

Well Anne chose to make this risk at the most vulnerable moment in her twelve year career not knowing if she would be able to get work again as an admittedly gay actress; not knowing if she would be misunderstood and shunned by the heterosexual community; not knowing if she would be accepted or rejected by the gay and lesbian community; or if her own family and friends would turn their backs or embrace her.

But she decided to expose her truth and she stuck to that choice while all the above took place around here; while she was both judged and accepted, ridiculed and celebrated, banished and embraced. And she didn't collapse. She stood strong under this public scrutiny with many gays and straights and family and friends against her and she ultimately opened the door for minds and hearts and lives to be changed forever.

While Ellen's courage changed the world, Anne stood in the flames as a beacon, a symbol of truth preaching nonpartisan, gender-free love proudly. In my mind, she is the second greatest first lady this nation has ever had.

By saying 'I love and I encourage you all to love, whoever you choose to love' she has liberated others to do the same.

By refusing to compromise her truth for the good of her career or to maintain a safe, heterosexual world.

By not allowing other's fears and judgments and preconceived ideas of right and wrong.

By saying this is me now and I am not ashamed and I'll ask you kindly not to be ashamed for me because this is the greatest I have ever been - this is the truest me there is, so please just let me let it be.

By standing up and saying, hey, hey look at me the human being. Step out of your fear and open your mind a little. Celebrate yourself as a loving human being regardless of sex or age or race. Be fully who you are. Be proud. Love yourself and be true to yourself whatever the cost.

She has shamelessly and fearlessly stood alone, and stood in celebration of the one she loves and, my oh my, do they love. I don't think I have ever met two people in my life who are more in love than they are. And why are we afraid of that, honestly? Why can't we accept that love is love and we should get it any way that we can.

Anne is an active example of this. Of how open-minded and all-accepted we should all be in any community and under all circumstances.

Who cares if a woman who once loved men now loves women? Who cares if a man who once loved men now loves women? Who cares if someone's love fluctuates between men and women and men? What's the big f****** deal?

So let's practice what we preach and with the acceptance that we expect from others. Let us stop being so damn judgmental and crucifying of everyone who doesn't fit into our boxed-in perception of what is right.

You know, it is almost the twenty first century. Let us learn from Anne's example and just let ourselves let others be.

I want to thank you Anne for being so brave. Thank you for standing in the flames without shame as a beacon of truth for man and womankind. You deserve to be celebrated for your courage, your selflessness and your integrity.

Ladies and ladies, and some men, my friend, Anne Heche."

Transcript provided by Mari and appears courtesy of PlanetOut Radio.

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