Glenda Jackson

I was 24.

Tending bar and waiting tables at the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington, DC; rebooting after a year of advance work in the Pacific. 

My first Celebrity Crush was Hayley Mills. (“Pollyanna”? I was a goner.)  Subsequently, as the world opened up beyond Disney movies, I had developed a thing for Glenda Jackson. With “Women in Love,” a crush grew through and beyond “The Music Lovers,” “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” and “A Touch of Class” to the point where I pretty much believed she walked on water, I admired her so.

When I learned she was coming to DC in “Hedda Gabler” at the National, I knew that it was Time We Met. 

I bought tickets to Closing Night, then wrote her before opening night, explaining who I was and that I would love to take her to one of the 14 or so lunches she’d be having during her two-week run in DC. My intentions were purely Platonic; and that I didn’t want to subject her to crowds, just a quiet lunch and a casual place where we could talk and get to know one another a bit. I gave her the number of my work and my swim coach as local reference…

A week later, mid-run, I had not heard back from her; so I followed up with another note, accompanied by a crystal brandy snifter in which a gardenia was afloat. (I’d been a floral delivery guy my senior year in High School, and the gardenia-in-a-brandy snifter was my pièce de résistance when I really wanted to land a good impression. 

In my note, I acknowledged that she’d surely been busy while in DC, and that her performance was surely exhausting; but that my invitation remained open and valid and I’d love to take her to lunch someplace special to DC. 

The following week, nothing. By Saturday, I’d chalked it up to having given it a solid Go and let go of my little luncheon-with-Ms. Jackson fantasy. That morning, before the Ebbitt opened, I was setting tables and polishing silverware for the lunch shift when the manager came over with a funny look on his face and said there was a phone call for me.

I went to the back stairway and picked up the phone and this gorgeous voice said, in the plummiest of tones, “Hello, is this Kile Ozier…?”

“Yes, it is…” I said; thinking “No WAY!” as my knees went weak.

“Well, this is Glenda Jackson. I’m sorry not to have gotten back to you before now; I’ve just been so busy that I’ve had no time for lunch…or even tea…”

In my head, I’m (“TEA! She would have had Tea with me? Tea with Glenda Jackson! Glenda Jackson is on the phone with me!”)

“Are you coming to the performance this evening?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Well, why don’t you pop-round after the performance?”

“Pardon me…?” I said, having never heard the term “pop-round” before and being unable to actually think at the moment.

“Please come backstage after the performance; I’d love to meet you.”

“I’d love to do that, Miss Jackson; thank you.”

“Brilliant! See you after the show, then.” 


That night, after curtain, I went backstage. There were probably 15 or so people at her dressing room door. I held back a bit, not wanting to be a part of some gushy, adulatory mob and also not sure of the dictates of procedure and protocol. As the last person before me was escorted from the Star Chamber, the guard looked at me and said, “Anyone else for Miss Jackson?”

I nodded, he beckoned, I entered and there she was. Seated before her mirror on a small bench, wrapped in an elegant dressing gown, she turned and offered me her hand… “Kile…?”

“Miss Jackson.” (So far, so good: no faux pas.)

“Please. Sit.” 

I sat. 

There, tucked into the frame of her mirror, were both notes I’d written her; and on the dresser was the fragrant gardenia, still fresh, still afloat. 

We sat and talked – well, mostly she interviewed me. Though I pretty much held my own, I can barely remember the conversation; as I was just a tad gobsmacked at the quality of grace and the level of respect she was showing me. The fact that she’d kept and had on display my missives and gift offered such affirmation and recognition in a gesture I’ve never forgotten. 

Ten minutes or so, and I took my leave. She stood up, gave me a hug, said “Cheers” and wished me good luck. I thanked her and said goodbye. 

I took that experience as an example of how simple it is to give respect and treat people well. She was far more than a simple touch of class.

Thank you and R.I.P. 

Asylum, Honor, Responsibility.

We are all responsible for the Quality of Life on this Planet.

[Parts of this post are cryptic, as I am careful to protect the identity of the person at the center of the story.]

On Sunday evening, essentially the Eve of Pride, I received the call. 

Do I know anyone in <Exotic City in the Arabian Gulf> that can help?

The Taliban has been after this person; now having gone underground and seeking asylum in Canada. The person is educated, has an advanced degree, has practiced his discipline professionally, speaks several languages…and has committed the crime of being Gay. 

He survived the machine-gunning of his home and escaped to This Exotic City; has a temporary job and is working there as he works with US non-profit to arrange for transportation to and Asylum in Canada. He’s been staying in a Hostel in a suburb and keeping a low profile, but someone heard him on a phone and figured out his sexuality…

Subsequently, six men ambushed him in his bed, beat him mercilessly, breaking his laptop over his head and attempting to break his fingers… He escaped and hid in a construction site, sleeping there and hiding during daylight. 

Because he is Gay. 

Do I know anyone who can help him find a safe and secure place to live and be a conduit for money from the US Agency to cover living and food for the next period as arrangements are made?

The man is terrified. The Taliban wants him dead, he doesn’t feel safe and is vastly trepidatious of trusting anyone. He’s even afraid to see a doctor, in case…

I made calls to two colleagues who live in that country. It only took two. Both men barely let me explain what was needed; the concern they exhibited, the rapidity with which they opened up their networks, activated their resources and found or offered what is needed was breathtaking. Within 12- 18 hours the man was safe, had a place of his own, and has been befriended by one of my dear friends who is seeing to it that the man learns the possibility of trust…especially with this man.

I cite this instance for a couple of reasons. The manner in which my friends leapt unquestioningly into action, the deep empathy they demonstrated for a fellow human being, the thanks they gave to ME for giving them the opportunity to help this terrified soul…have been deeply moving to me.

And Timely…

Just last week, with the approach of Pride, we wrote in this space about the sudden (well, suddenly and again apparent…), exponential and cancerous growth of Hate in the US and worldwide. In the face of centuries fought for and decades old victories in our own country and other parts of the world, Hate has been awaiting the complacency that often comes when such victories are won. “Never Forget” becomes a slogan from before; and the urgency dissipates…

And the Hate returns; stronger than before. 

Women, BIPOC, LGBTQ++ communities are being targeted and attacked at all levels in the name of religious freedom…or, in many cases, just Hate.

During PRIDE, as we celebrate and parade and articulate our rights to exist; I offer that it is important to remember that the few and fewer rights we are enjoying can be stripped at the drop of a vote…or simply ignored at the pull of a trigger or stabbing of a blade. 

Throughout the US and the world, peripheral populations are fearing for their lives – and for those lives to be ended in cruel and painful ways – every day, all day, and all night.

So, AS we celebrate, might we please seek to communicate, inform, and in any ways that we can, offer support, succor, rescue and protection for vulnerable populations of our brothers, sisters and others…all of them?

I’m asking that, as we celebrate, let us also call attention to and seek to address and alleviate the problem. At every forum gathered in the name of PRIDE, I believe that we are bound by honor to call out the Inhumane. The Cruel. The egregious transgressions of simply the simple Human Right to exist.

We are bound by honor.

There are Asylum organizations worldwide that are committed to the rescue of those hunted for trapping and killing. I am familiar with two, the boards and admins of which I know; but these are by no means all that exist. Please put your money where you believe it will do the most good. I’ll put the links at the bottom of the post.

In my own industrial “neighborhood,” I would very much like to see the and take a stand against this inhumanity; to speak out and to speak up. 

Not only in Afghanistan, but everywhere HATE is rearing its head; including our own countries. Let our members know what is taking place right under our noses and that this is unacceptable. 

Our organizations are heavily populated by people directly concerned and affected by the Rise of this Violence and Hate. 

Beyond that, and of equal importance in addressing and even lessening (as I don’t believe that Hate will ever be eliminated) these actions, exists a massive international community that needs only to be made aware that this is happening and for light to be shed on the best avenues for people to help in any way they can. 

Money, transportation, food, shelter, jobs…we can all help.

Some simple numbers:

Being Gay is Illegal in 67 countries, punishable by death in 11.

Afghanistan is one of those 11.

Estimates are that the Taliban is killing between 100 – 200 LGBTQ++ people a month

This is State Sponsored Action


The Rainbow Fund

The San Francisco Asylum Project

When asked, this month and forever, “Why do we need a Pride Month?” Here are some of the answers.