Are We Still Too Much For Hallmark, Or Could Our Story Be A Modern Day "You've Got Mail"?
Updated: Mar 16
We know firsthand the dramatic role social media can play in bringing about change, so when Sarah Kate Ellis, CEO of GLAAD, called us to action over the recent Hallmark controversy we jumped to it. As part of the LGBTQ community we believe wholeheartedly that we deserve to be represented in all forms of the media, including sappy films, we love them too! But over on the Hallmark Channel it's only attractive heterosexual couples who make up their movie collection.
During our fight for marriage equality our international love story was compared to a hugely popular romantic movie.
"It began as so many modern love stories do: two people online, one sends a "smile to the other, and a connection is made. Just like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in a modern day "You've Got Mail", these two would discover that this would spark the greatest romance of their lives." ~ Lisa Greening Uniting American Families Act
We've since written a screenplay about our love story and it has been turned away by some filmmakers because it is "too sweet, too Hallmarky". This puts us in a juxtaposition of being too sweet and too gay! We want to be able to see real romantic LGBTQ films, good ones, not just hard hitting dramas. Will Hallmark pick up the mantel as they proclaim and work with people like us?
Let’s rewind to 2005, after a failed marriage of twelve years, I was finally true to myself and nearly a two-year hiatus from any kind of intimate relationship, I was ready, ready to plunge back into the dating scene and vowed to myself to NEVER marry again! Not knowing these words would someday come back to haunt me.
So how does one jump back in, putting their self out there, looking for one’s approval. Google answered my question, as I typed the last word and hit the enter button. “How do I find a lesbian”. The feeling of excitement rushed through my veins, I was doing it, I was ready. But was I? For anyone who’s gone through a breakup, you know what I’m talking about, you start to question yourself with the what ifs. I say screw that! Take a chance, if it doesn’t work out, at least you know you were strong enough to try.
Now setting up my profile, unless I’m one of those creepy catfish people and uploaded a fake image, it took me at least fifteen minutes to choose the right photo. Too much cleavage, no cleavage? Remember thousands of women with be checking me out. Reality knocked me back to perspective and I knew creating my profile, was for all of me, inside and out. “MISS L” was created.
Meanwhile after searching endless profiles from women around the world, I was intrigued by someone called “ORANGE BUZZ” Orange Buzz lived in a quaint village across the pond in England. We had a lot of similar interest’s and who doesn’t love a British accent! So, with heart pumping I sent Orange Buzz a smile. That one smile traveled through cyberspace and landed in the place it was meant to be. We sparked a conversation, the kind that only happens once.
Til this day, I cannot explain that feeling inside, I knew in my heart, she was the one! A bit hesitant to tell friends that I fell head over heels over an instant message, because they would have thought I’d gone mad, BUT it was true.
After a couple of months of endless emails and Verizon’s fantastic international plan, we knew things about one other that we had never been revealed. From our children, divorces, family, likes, dislikes, you name it, we created a bond, a bond that would be tested for many years to come.
On October 4th, 2005 Caroline aka “ORANGE BUZZ” boarded a flight to the United States, destination Logan International Airport, this would be our first in person meet cute.
As any traditional love story goes, boy meets girl, boy marries girl and they live happily ever after, but for us this was not the case. Well some of it is…. Girl meets girl, girl marries girl, BUT we did not live happily ever after. As a bi-national lesbian married couple, our marriage wasn’t recognized by the Federal Government, I couldn’t sponsor my wife for a green card and Caroline was on the brink of deportation. I finally had the courage to open my heart for a second chance on finding true love and now the Federal Government was standing in my way, making decisions about my marriage for me, it was devastating to us! Our marriage wasn’t worthy in the eyes of law makers, and we had to prove them wrong.
We reached out to various news sources and told our love story, and the injustice in our society. This is when Twitter helped save our marriage! Story after story was published and we decided to share them on our Twitter profiles @hartlaurie @CarolineMHart, we were humbled by the support we received from complete strangers and celebrities all rooting for us! With thousands of retweets and messages of encouragement, our story made its way to the Judiciary Committee in Washington, DC. It goes down in history, as a story that would change hearts and minds for those afraid of change, a story that would help change a law.
Today I’m grateful that I didn’t listen to myself proclaiming to never marry again, for all those supporters who helped fight the bullies and for the power of social media. Now Hallmark it's up to you to prove yourself true to your word and include LGBTQ families in your programming.
Special thanks go out to the army of LGBTQ groups, friends and allies who took the time to retweet and send messages of support for us, including, but not limited to, those listed below.
Congressman Jerry Nadler
Congresswoman Niki Tsongas
Nigel Lythgoe - Producer & Judge on So You Think You Can Dance, Producer American Idol
Adam Shankman – Film Director/Choreographer
Mary Murphy - SYTCD Judge/ Choreographer
Mandy Moore- Choreographer
Stacy Tookey - Choreographer
Suze Orman – Emmy Award Winning TV Show Host
Clive Davis – Sony Chief Creative, Producer
Sharon Stone – Actress
Kate Walsh – Actress
Jullianne Moore - Actress
Toks OOlagundoye - Actress
Jason Alexander – Actor
Ellen Pompeo – Actress
Andie MacDowell - Actress
Patty Duke - Oscar Winning Actress
Melissa Gilbert - Actress
Fran Dreschner - Actress
Kelli Giddish - Law & Order SVU Actress
Debra Messing – Actress
Sara Gilbert - Actress
Kathy Najimy - Actress
Stephen Collins – Actor
Betty Buckley – Actress
DW Moffett - Actor
Tie the Knot Org – Jesse Tyler
Elizabeth Vargas – Anchor ABC News
Sam Champion - Good Morning America
Ginger Zee - Good Morning America
Elizabeth Gilbert - Best Selling Author (Eat, Pray, Love & Committed)
Martina Navratilova - Former world #1 tennis legend
Billie Jean King - Former world #1 tennis legend
Sarah McLachlan - Singer
Leann Rimes – Singer
Gloria Estefan – Singer
Samantha Ronson – Singer/Songwriter/DJ
Talor Dayne - Singer
KD Lang- Singer
Billie Myers – Singer/Actress
Julia Fordham – Singer/Songwriter
Mari Wilson – Singer
Bonnie Raitt - Singer
Hilton Hollis - Designer
Yeardley Smith – Aka, Lisa Simpson
Tory Johnson – GMA contributor
Aisha Tyler - Actress
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