Let me start of by saying...2016 was an interesting year. Interesting….and incredibly challenging. It was full of incredible hardships for a lot of people, myself included. Long term relationships have ended, friendships have had huge challenges, the world has seen many mass bombings and attacks, earthquakes and floods feel like their increasing, Trump was elected president, and many of our most influential artists have left us.
Prince, David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Glen Frey, Alan Rickman, Zsa Zsa Gabor, and most recently George Michael, Carrie Fisher AND Debbie Reynolds, all three within a week, and MANY more. I remember experiencing the pain of the world each time a new name was added to the list of artists who passed away this year. These artists were more than their careers, they were our idols. A huge number of people grew up worshipping these people who always seemed immortal. They created a safe and creative space for the misfits, the empowered, the queer, the intelligent, the sexy….and SO many more. This group challenged society’s standards through art and life. When times were good, they created art...when times were tough, they created more art... and especially when life looked unbearable, they created art... And their art influenced the world greatly. Even after their deaths, they were bringing people together. There were David Bowie themed burlesque shows in his honour. People would meet and dance their hearts out for an entire month after Prince’s passing. Communities bonded over their memories of Carrie Fisher or Zsa Zsa Gabor and their contributions to the world.
It’s hard enough to hear when any of our idols die, but when it’s so many in only a year? What is the world planning? Is this the beginning of an apocalypse? Maybe this isn’t a sign of disaster of what’s to come or the fact that we’ve lost so much of what brings us joy. Maybe this is an opportunity for the rest of us to do our part. As it is an important role in the circle of life for one generation to pass for a new one to create a world fit for them, it is important for those of us left to see where we need to fill in our gaps. Why are our idols important to us? What changes or space did they create that you want to continue and further develop? We need to take responsibility for the world that’s left.
People and communities are more than their name or their career, they are a legacy that ripples throughout society and continues long after they and we are gone. If you remember someone who created the space and acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community, BE the person to continue and enhance that. Practice your beliefs of consent culture and patriarchy smashing daily, and take a rest when you need it. Raise others up when they’re feeling down. Help those out who may not have the money, ability, or means to help themselves. Call people out when they’re being inappropriate or educate someone who is ignorant. Be the best you that you can be, and above all, be that person you are proud of or honoured to know.
2017 is going to be the beginning of a new era. One full of promise, action, and empowerment. No more “not being good enough.” No more letting misogynists get away with their inappropriate comments about and towards women. No more ignoring the racism in our society. No more tearing each other down in attempts to build ourselves up. It’s time to bring awareness to our own biases. Time to stand up to ignorance. Time for attainable education and living standards. Time to bring focus towards mental health and nurturing people’s development. And time to let go of anger and frustrations, and instead create love, acceptance, and art. Build community. Accept yourself and others for their whole being, including the beauty and faults. Share yourself with the world, and in honour of every impactful individual in our lives… create change.