Cheer Queer goes… All Americans boys!

This summer season 2015 could not start better: on Sunday the 14th of June, 2015, “Cheer Queer! Goes All-American Boy!” marked the beginning of summer with a lively and sparkling event involving two very special guests.

At the eve of EuroPride, the National LGBT* Organization LGL and the U.S. Embassy of Vilnius offered to the community the unprecedented opportunity to know more and meet in person the famous American singer Steve Grand and the world-wide renowned Chef Art Smith. The guests were interviewed for this occasion, by the charismatic LGL member Tomaš Ilja in the cozy atmosphere of One-Two Bar.

Steve Grand is an openly gay American ‘country’ music singer, who, through the power of his voice, talent and commitment soon became a role model in the fight for LGBT* rights. Steve became a web-celebrity in 2013, when his own-produced video “All-American Boys” collected more than a million views in only 8 days. The notoriety Steve achieved thank to his talent, gave him an opportunity to have his voice heard also in another field. Steve soon started to publicly advocate for transgender persons’ human rights, thus contributing to the development of a progressive and inclusive LGBT* discourse in the US.

Chef Art Smith worked for the world’s most famous celebrities. For ten years Art worked as Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef and now he travels around the world to prepare food masterpieces for special occasions. He regularly contributes to the development of the magazine “StandUp”, whose profits are entirely given to the Ben Cohen Standup Foundation Fund, a foundation working in order to increase public awareness about the wound of bullying. Few months ago, Art put his culinary genius at the service of same-sex mass weddings occurring at the beach in Miami, thus contributing to the promotion of marriage equality in the US.

At the event Cheer Queer, the special guests openly shared life experiences ranging from cooking and singing to political commitment and LGBT* activism with the audience attending the event. If both Steve and Art achieved a successful and enviable career, they never forgot who they are though. They never forgot that they are part of the LGBT* community, of its struggles, of its defeats and of its victories. For this reason, as they both stated, their work cannot be disjointed by the importance of mobilize the LGBT* community and to raise awareness and promote equality in the society.

Finally, what would Steve and Art at the present time feel to communicate to the 15-year old themselves? This was the final question in the interview and one of the most moving moment of the event. Steve replied that he would have spoken to his 15-year old self about future opportunities, about the fact that when we are teenagers we tend to not consider any other time frame rather than present. This means to unfortunately ignore the fact that things will change and will get better, and perhaps exciting opportunities are behind the corner without one even realizes that. Art stated that in his speech to his teen-self, he would have now spoken about love, how this comes most of the time unexpectedly and how people should never give up in the search for love. Plus, he gave to his 15-year old self a priceless advice: to focus on his objectives, to be the best in the goals he wants to fulfill, because this is the key to achieve your inner glory. Needless to say, Steve’s and Art’s words are certainly an inspiration for many young people belonging to the LGBT* community.

After this touching words, Steve Grand gifted the audience with an acoustic performance, in which he performed four amazing songs, including also his first music success “All American Boys”. The audience attending the event had later an opportunity to meet and exchange their opinions with Steve and Art, who showed a genuine interest for the situation of LGBT* people in Lithuania and were eager to know more about the major challenges the community faces in its daily life.  The event was supported by the NGO Program in Lithuania and the United States Embassy in Vilnius.

 

The event was supported by the Embassy of the United States in Vilnius, Lithuania.Embassy_US_Vilnius_logo

eea_grants_logo_2014The event was organized as part of the project “Towards Practical Implementation of LGBT* Rights in Lithuania” which is supported by the NGO Programme Lithuania funded by EEA Grants. The project supports the implementation of the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism NGO program. The Kingdom of Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein has developed the EEA and Norwegian financial mechanisms in order to contribute to the economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area (EEA).