Fans of the OG cast of The L Word and The L Word: Generation Q got a treat yesterday when the White House played host to the cast and creator in honor of Lesbian Visibility Week. Karine Jean-Pierre, the out lesbian White House Press Secretary, was joined at the daily news briefing by OG cast members Katherine Moennig, Leisha Hailey, and Jennifer Beals, as well as co-creator and producer Ilene Chaiken.
“This week is Lesbian Visibility Week, and as the first openly queer person to hold the position of Press Secretary for the President of the United States, I see every day how important visibility and representation are,” she said. Jean-Pierre talked about feeling unseen, even in New York City, as a young, queer woman of color.
“I felt alone and sometimes invisible,” she said, one reason why representation in media is critical for LGBTQ+ young people. “It is important that young people see characters on television and in the books they can relate to, whose life stories and identities inspire them to reach their highest potential. As the LGBTQI+ community continues to face relentless attacks from some Republicans across the country, from book bans to ‘Don’t Say Gay laws,’ MAGA extremists want to roll back the visibility and progress we fought so hard to achieve. But LGBTQI+ youth are resilient. They are fierce. They fight back. They aren’t going anywhere. And there are people from the White House, from the president to the vice president to this administration and beyond, who have their back.”
Ilene Chaiken, who is said to be fast at work on a new L Word spinoff filmed and set in New York City, talked about The L Word’s impact on viewers in the early 2000s, especially for young people. But, she added, “We face new threats against our community…[by people] who, in trying to deny our humanity, only diminish their own. They may try to erase our stories from classrooms and libraries, but we’re here. We’re here today at the White House, and we won’t be erased.
Leisha Hailey, who plays Alice Pieszeck on both series, talked about the “enormous honor and responsibility of being visible for over 20 years. But visibility is not just the act of being seen. It is the ability to see. So to the librarian in Texas advocating to keep books with LGBTQIA themes on the shelves: We see you. To the LGBTQIA people leading their communities as rabbis, pastors, and ministers: We see you. To the LGBTQIA community in Missouri about to lose their gender-affirming care: We see you. To the LGBTQIA community affected by the Dobbs decision in Idaho, Wisconsin, Alabama, Tennessee: We see you.”
Turning to Jean-Pierre, the actor and musician added, “And to the first openly LGBTQIA Press Secretary: We see you! Visibility starts in our homes and our communities. And even if it feels like you’re under attack, know that we see you.”
She added that “I’m standing here today because as a young gay girl in Nebraska who raced soapbox derby cars and wore rainbow suspenders, I was seen by my family,” Hailey added. “Their love and support gave me the courage and confidence to live my life openly.”
The cast went on to meet with LGBTQ staffers of the Biden-Harris administration to talk about the White House’s work to advance full equality. And lest you think Jean-Pierre is all seriousness, she laughed as she talked about attending the filming of Bette and Tina’s wedding (the second one on the series finale of The L Word: Generation Q), calling it “a moment that meant so much to queer women across the country.”
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