July 01, 2007

I'm On Fire...

Every now and again, a reader will e-mail me with a question or comment about something I’ve written. I enjoy this. Sometimes they want me to share my unique Serial Blonde perspective on a current event. Take this for instance…

“You’re a good balance of being opinionated and witty. I USED to think Rosie O’Donnell was both, but I’m not so sure anymore. She seems to have grown hateful and angry. Sometimes I wonder just who the hell does she think she is? What do you make of Rosie?”

Get a drink and snack, kids. We’re going to be here a while.

I think it’s safe to say that Rosie O’Donnell is a multi-faceted individual. She’s often funny and good-natured. Her enormous fan base supports this. On the other hand, we’ve all seen her grows horns and spit fire when debating issues ranging from politics to religion, from The Bush to The Donald. Through her many sides, one thing is consistent. She is always passionate.

And I say more power to her.

We should all be so lucky to be strong enough to use our stature and prominence in society to address issues we think are important to provoke conversation and thought. Regardless of what the popular opinion is, Rosie does this, sometimes effectively, sometimes like a bull in a china shop, but damn it, at least she does it. I would much rather listen and watch her foam at the mouth over something that concerns, insults or offends her than deal with the alternative, which are the blank, vapid expressions and statements made by the likes of say a Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, who God bless, couldn’t string together a point of view between them if their fucking lives depended on it. Even at her most pissed off and angry, I’ll take an aggressive point of view over the sound of dead space between your ears any day. Even if it means picking on that sweet little Kelly Ripa.

And what about Rosie’s anger and bitterness? I’m always perplexed at why anger is such a foreign phenomena to people. Maybe it’s because half of us are dependent on mood stabilizers (guilty) or just too jaded (also guilty) to feel outraged about the funkiness that clouds our world anymore that we all get in a snit when someone dares to blemish our cool collected facades with cold hard facts or personal ideas. And to be perfectly honest with you, if you allow yourself to think about it for just a second, aren’t the things she’s angry and outspoken about WORTH BEING ANGRY OVER? What about the atrocities being bestowed upon the Iraqi people, here and abroad, allegedly all in the name of fighting the war on terror? What about the lack of equality among people in our country because of our differences in gender, race, or sexual orientation? How can you not feel something? You or I may not always agree with her particular point of view, or the manner in which she chooses to get her point across, but I think anyone with half a brain cell left in their head would agree that yes, these things deserve to be addressed in some fashion. At least angry and bitter prove she has a conscience and pulse.

Though being opinionated and marching to the beat of one's own drummer is also my forte, my real admiration for Rosie stems from the things about her that don’t make the headlines or get worldwide attention. The side of Rosie that doesn’t impress so called critics and journalists: the sincere one.

Take for instance her much talked about coming out publicly in 2001. Though hardly anyone was shocked (I always just assumed she was in our family), the media (including the gay press) had a field day running with why it took her so long to do it. Was she ashamed? Was she under pressure to hide it? No. She simply didn’t think it was anyone’s business or worth the commotion. Instead, she was eventually prompted to come out publicly to lend her name and support to an important cause she believes in: the welfare of children.

That year, addressing the state law in Florida banning gay adoption, Rosie, who at the time had a foster child, said openly “Come to find out, in order to adopt this child, I would have to perjure myself, would have to sign a document that says in the state of Florida that I am not bisexual or homosexual. The fact that I was unwilling to sign that document meant the child was removed from the house.”

Though her stature and financial security enabled her to adopt her first three children (unrelated to the Florida ban) and live a life few LGTB people have the opportunity to, she stood up and spoke out for not only herself, but those who were being unjustly and negatively affected by this ban.

But no talks about this.

In 1997, Rosie O’Donnell launched Rosie's For All Kids Foundation, a nonprofit charity dedicated to helping disadvantaged children and low-income families through grants that provide early childhood care, education and other essential programs. Through money raised by Rosie-sponsored products and events and public donations, her organization has raised approximately sixty million dollars for its cause.

No one talks about this either.

So to answer my reader’s first question, the things I’ve mentioned are probably a better description and indication of who the hell Rosie O’Donnell thinks she is.

We just don’t hear about it.

Given this, as far as I’m concerned, Rosie O’Donnell can say whatever the hell she wants to who ever the hell she wants to. I’d even put up with her head spinning around like Linda Blair in The Exorcist with smoke shooting out of her ears, because plain and simple, the woman’s actions have always spoken louder than her words (though she would probably be the first to deflect that and say no, she can be pretty loud.) She, without fanfare and glory, does more than anyone will ever truly give her credit for. But this doesn’t matter to her. She’ll continue dish it out and take it in her true Rosie style, all the while modestly doing the work that means the most to her.

So, to answer my reader’s real question (just in case I haven’t knocked you over with my point of view yet!), what do I really think of her?

I think Rosie O’Donnell is one helluva fan-fucking-tastic human being. Flaws and all.

Essential Download: "I'm On Fire"
Artisit: Marianne Faithfull
Available On: Kissin' Time

Originally published in the July 2007 issue of The Empty Closet, New York State’s Oldest Continuously-Published LGTB newspaper since 1973, through the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley.

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