Shonda Rhimes is known for her awesome plots for Series –‘How to Get Away with Murder’, ‘Scandal’, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ – and in each of those stories that showcase strong black women; there is also a theme of sexual orientation.
In a speech given at the Human Rights Campaign Gala in Los Angeles, Shonda Rhimes talks about sexuality and how in her stories (that she has been writing since she was 11) she always tries to normalize what she sees in the world.
She went further to say that she always used to escape in her stories because it was “a space for ME to exist… Until I could find my people in the real world.”
Shonda Rhimes also talked at length about the LGBTQ community.
See some pointers from her speech below:
- “I did not have friends. No one is meaner than a pack of human beings faced with someone who is different. I was very much alone. So… I wrote.”
- “You see, Shondaland, the imaginary land of Shonda, has existed since I was 11 years old. I built it in my mind as a place to hold my stories. A safe place. A space for my characters to exist. A space for ME to exist […] Until I could find my people in the real world.”
- “I don’t know if anyone has noticed but I only ever write about one thing: being alone. The fear of being alone, the desire to not be alone, the attempts we make to find our person, to keep our person, to convince our person to not leave us alone, the joy of being with our person and thus no longer alone, the devastation of being left alone. The need to hear the words: You are not alone.”
- “I really hate the word ‘diversity.’ It suggests something…other. As if it is something…special. Or rare. Diversity! As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women and people of color and LGBTQ characters on TV. I have a different word: normalizing. I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks. Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50% of the population. Which means it ain’t out of the ordinary.”
- “You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe. The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them.”
- “And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because, perhaps then, they will learn from them. Perhaps then, they will not isolate them. Marginalize them. Erase them. Perhaps they will even come to recognize themselves in them. Perhaps they will even learn to love them.”
- “If you never see young Connor Walsh on How To Get Away Murder getting to have the same kind of slutty dating life we’ve seen straight characters have on TV season after season after season. If you never see any of those people on TV, what do you learn about your importance in the fabric of society? What do straight people learn? What does that tell young people?”
- “I get letters and tweets and people coming up to me on the street. Telling me so many incredible stories. The dad telling me about how something he saw on one of my shows gave him a way to understand his son when he came out. Or the teenagers, all the teenagers man, who tell me they learned the language to talk to their parents about being gay or lesbian.”
- “There were times in my youth when writing those stories in Shondaland quite literally saved my life. And now I get kids telling me it quite literally saves theirs. That is beyond humbling.”
- “Finally I want to say this: if you are a kid and you are out there and you are chubby and not so cute and nerdy and shy and invisible and in pain, whatever your race, whatever your gender, whatever your sexual orientation, I’m standing here to tell you: you are not alone. Your tribe of people, they are out there in the world. Waiting for you.”
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Imeh Akpanudosen