Jeanne Rubin is was among the first people that I knew I was going to ask to be involved in this series. She has her thumb on the pulse of the LGBTQ+ community and is heavily involved. Her many many years with GALA North Texas has made her an invaluable asset to the betterment of so many LGBTQ+ lives.
As I have come to know Jeanne better since meeting her she is truly an inspiration for what it means to be present and make sure that the fight for equality is not allowed to be silenced.
My name is Jeanne Rubin, and I am on the board of GALA North Texas, which is a nonpartisan, nonprofit group that educates and celebrates diversity and enhances equality in north Texas. I live in Wiley, with my wife of 19 years, Lisa and a crazy little Shiba Inu mix, named Scout, who we call our grumpy old man. I've been involved in LGBTQ advocacy, politics, education, probably almost since I came out at 24, but certainly more in the last 20 or so years. And definitely more since I moved to Texas where I found the need was more than it was in my home city of Philadelphia, which was a very safe and different place to come out even in the 80s.
TMP: What does Pride Month mean to you?
That's a good question. Pride, when I think of pride, I think of a desire to recreate the feeling, very personally, that I first had when I walked into my first lesbian bar in my young twenties. It was a feeling of safety. It was a feeling of euphoria. It was a feeling of belonging and it was a feeling of coming home, and that's what I think we all try to recreate, or at least personally, I try and recreate with pride is that feeling. So that's the personal answer. And then I guess the perfect professional, I don't know if that's quite the right word, but what it means to the community as a whole, is a chance to identify, to be who we are, to get that same feeling that I personally get, but to get it as a group and to let the larger community see us that way.
TMP: For those that feel they are alone and unable to come out, what message do you have for them?
Well, first I think it's cliche, but it probably can't be said often enough and that is, that it does get better. Well I did come out of later in life, and most people in this day and age come out a lot younger, and I recognize how much harder that can be, I do think that as you get older, certain things are easier. And being LGBTQ, I believe is one of them. You are more within yourself, you are more authentic, you grow into yourself and you learn to surround yourself with people who support you as you are, who let you be your authentic self, you're not confined by a family who may not support you or a school district that may not support you or a religious community that may not support you. You get to create your own world, so to speak, and that will make your life better, I promise.
TMP: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self to help you with your coming out experience?
Well, I was really lucky. I grew up on the east coast, as I said earlier, I grew up in Philadelphia. I grew up to a liberal Jewish family. I had a sister who had already come out as a lesbian. So I recognize the privilege that I have, not just in my race and my socioeconomic background, but also in the environment in which I came out. And I get that that's not how it is for everybody. So I was a lucky 24 year old coming out, but still I think there's an internal struggle.
And still, I think even in the present day of internet and television that shows LGBTQ characters, still we hear from youth that they feel alone. And that again, I think encapsulates what's important about pride. That it transcends. It's an event and a celebration, if you will, that transcends all the things that our community has heard from families and places of worship and employers or workplaces, that we're not good enough, that we're sinners or we're abnormal or whatever the case may be. And that pride allows us to be exactly who we are. That in and of itself I think, it's more than just pride, it's more than sort of what you think of when you think of pride. It's letting people be who they are and there's nothing that compares to that feeling.
TMP: For those that are not part of the community, but want to be allies, what would you impart on them so as to be most helpful?
Well, I think the first thing is to educate yourself and that easier to do now, obviously, than it used to be. You can search for Stonewall Inn, or Stonewall riots, and you can read about the history of our movement and where it began, and what this year is, the 50 year anniversary of the infamous Stonewall riots. You can search for famous LGBTQ people and learn about those important people in our paths, from the women of color who stood up at the Stonewall Inn, to Harvey milk, who ran for office, to those in our community right now who continue to stand up and fight the good fight. You can ask questions, you can stand up when somebody tells an off color or an insulting joke and tell them that you don't find that funny. You can just listen when your LGBTQ friends or families want to talk and you can accept that what they're telling you is exactly how they feel. Just listen and except their feelings as authentic.
TMP: What is something that you would like to say to those viewing this, that we have not specifically covered?
Well, thank you for caring enough to watch this. Thank you for Terry, for caring enough to do it. I think it's still important. I know some people have said that pride has become commercialized, but I personally have mixed feelings about that. I know some of the big companies are donating a lot of money to our causes, and so I do feel good about that. And I think only we can keep the pride and the identity in the celebration and not let the commercial takeover.
A big thank you to Jeanne for taking the time to come in for this interview and share what Pride Month means to her.