Soapbox: Aisha Tyler

What's not to love about Aisha Tyler?! The hilarious actress and comedian is regularly our favorite part of CBS’ chatfest The Talk, being ever the honest and open co-host. So it was only natural that we’d give this longtime LGBT ally our spotlight and let her take over the Soapbox. And befitting of this, our Love & Equality Issue, Aisha is sharing her personal connection to our marriage equality fight through the adversity she and her husband faced in their own marriage.

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I was a very unpopular, bullied kid who was weird and an outsider. You know what? It made me who I am—those things I used to be so ashamed of are now my badges of courage. For anyone out there who feels afraid or persecuted or unaccepted, please know that you are unique and beautiful and deserve to find happiness by fully embracing who you are.

One thing I really loved from the very beginning about being on The Talk is getting to be around the amazing Sara Gilbert and to support how out she is on the show. It makes me so proud and so happy to be a part of something that means so much to my gay friends. Hopefully, all of you out there see yourselves reflected at that table in some way. At its best, The Talk is the portrait of five honest, flawed and funny women who are kind to each other and to themselves. That’s what it means to be human.

I grew up in San Francisco, where the LGBT community was always a big part of my life. I have always had very close gay friends and family members, and I have seen firsthand how they are even more fiercely loving, connected and committed, because they had to fight so hard to form a family.

On a larger, separate scale, the idea of marriage equality feels personally urgent, because my husband is white and there was a time when white people and black people couldn’t get married in this country either. People who wanted to marry outside their race were fighting for the same kinds of rights that gay couples are fighting for now, and the same kind of arguments against interracial marriage are the ones being used against gay marriage now.

This fight affects all of us—it’s such a fundamental aspect of not just civil rights but human rights: the right to be able to marry the person you love and build a family with them. When my husband and I got together, we were told, “It’s not right, it’s not natural for you to be together.” That argument just rankled me so deeply, and to hear that same argument used against gay couples feels like such an injustice.

If your friends or family are opposed to gay marriage, my first response is to say, fuck them. When my husband and I were challenged, very early in our relationship, he said, “This is the person I love. That’s not going to change. You can either get on the train, or we’re going to leave you behind.” The first step for any couple who is in love and wants to be married is to recognize that the two most important people in this equation are the two of you. While we all want our families and friends to be a part of that, making a fierce declaration of love can be its own kind of magnet to draw them in.

If you want to start a conversation with your family, be resolute: “I want you in my life, but you fighting or rejecting me won’t change my love for this person. Nothing will.” If this is truly who you are, you have to be confident. Everybody in our lives came around once they saw how much we loved each other. Love is about accepting another person entirely and wholly; love is the most powerful weapon against ignorance.

Everyone I know who has come out—it’s like a light goes on in their eyes and their wings unfurl. You may leave some people behind in the process, but maybe those people weren’t really there for you in the first place. In the end, only you can live your life—not your parents, not your relatives, not your co-workers. Take the leap and know that new, wonderful things are going to come to you. Be brave.

Marriage equality and LGBT rights are such an important fight, and we are transforming as a nation. It’s slow and painstaking but we finally have a president who’s come out really firmly for LGBT rights and the tide is in our favor. This is the time to be brave and know that when you come out, you’re kicking the door open a little bit wider for everybody who comes behind.

All of you are my heroes.

Moderated by Jonathan Riggs; art by Dave Arkle. The Talk airs daily on CBS