OUT.com chats up the great Robin Strasser about the groundbreaking gay storyline on “One Life to Live”
It is just astounding to me that an actress can be doing a role for 30 years and still be turning in a performance that is still so fresh and delicious.
That’s what Robin Strasser continues to do as Dorian Lord on ABC’s One Life to Live. And how lucky we are to have Dorian at the center of the show’s landmark gay marriage storyline. With the city of Llanview’s mayoral race down to the wire, Dorian is horrified when she learns her arch-enemy and opponent Viki (Erika Slezak) has won the support of the town’s Gay and Lesbian Alliance. Not to be outdone and to prove she deserves their backing, Dorian decides she will pretend to be gay and announces she will marry her openly gay campaign manager, Amelia (Tia Dionne Hodge).
The actress herself is an LGBT activist and very articulate about her views. That’s why it’s such a pleasure to share with you some excerpts from her new interview with OUT.com:
How did the producers and writers approach you to tell you that you would be part of a gay storyline?
They don’t approach us. They try to stay as far away from us as possible. That just isn’t how it works. Ron Carlivati [the show’s head writer] is a man of great intellect and has diverse interests and experiences. There was no warning for me. I saw something coming up [in the script] and said, “What’s going on? Is Dorain …?” They said “Yes, she’s going to want to get the gay vote away from Viki so much that she declares herself gay.”
What’s the first thing that went through your mind?
Is she saying she’s gay or is she trying it out? Either way, I needed that information.
Did you have any concerns?
What alarmed me more than if she had actually made a discovery about her sexuality was that if she is pretending that she is. But she believes she is doing it in a good cause, which in her pathology isn’t that she wants to do anything to be mayor — it’s in a good cause because people do have a right to make their personal choices about their sexuality and romantic and personal commitments. Equal rights to all people should be available. So, she goes to the higher moral ground even while she’s down in the mud deciding she’ll do anything to beat Viki to become mayor.
Off-screen you have been an activist for gay rights for years. What made you first get involved?
You’re going to say I was smiling warmly and affectionately [when I said this] … Most of my best friends are gay! Truly, I cannot look back on my life without gratitude for people I was blessed to have who happened to be gay. That would be men and women. I feel the loss over the friends — because I am of a certain age — who became ill before we knew what it was that was making people very sick and killing them. It [supporting gay rights] was not anything I had to search for. It was right there in my experience.
How do you feel the Obama administration is faring on LBGT issues?
You’re going to ask that big of a question! [long pause] I have concerns because I was an early Obama supporter. I think one of the happiest times in my own home was the Inaugural dinner that I gave. I made a dinner that wouldn’t quit! And by the way I had very special friends there! I can show you the e-mails I sent afterward where I said, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but the best looking people there were the gay couples.” We had straight people there too. Dick Cavett showed up. Look at me name dropping!
But back to gay rights — it has never done any factor of our society any good or given true gain to suppress, discriminate or do harm to another group. You can’t give me historical evidence that it ever made anything stronger to isolate or try to destroy another group. It shouldn’t even be up for debate. Particularly when the nit-picking over what should be allowed and what shouldn’t negates the willingness of the gay community to be of service, as in to become parents of children who are not necessarily the first ones adopted. There’s no win in that, and it’s shameful. I got a lot of dividends that I was hoping would come in on Obama. Gay rights was one of them.