Sally Field, best known for her title role in the 1960’s television series The Flying Nun, has written about her experiences raising a gay son along two straight sons in a letter aimed at bolstering support for the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) efforts to stop state legislatures passing laws that legalize discrimination against LGBTI people.
Field wrote that despite her award winning acting career, spanning five decades, her greatest achievement was as a mother.
‘The three things I'm most proud of in my life are my sons, Peter, Eli and Sam,’ Field wrote, ‘They are kind, loving and productive people. Each with their own list of talents and accomplishments.’
‘Sam is my youngest son, by 18 years, and he's gay. To that, I say: So what?
‘Growing up, Sam wanted desperately to just be like his older brothers - athletic, rambunctious and even a little bit macho. He wanted to beat Eli at tennis, trounce Peter at computer football and learn everything about every basketball player on the court.
‘But Sam was different. And his journey to allow himself to be what nature intended him to be was not an easy one.
When I saw him struggling, I wanted to jump in. But his older brothers held me back. They told me I couldn't travel that road for Sam. It was his to travel, not mine. I had to wait for him to own himself in his own time. I could make it easier only by standing visibly to the side, clearly loving him, always being there and always letting him know.
‘Finally, at 20, long after he beat his brothers at tennis and computer games and knew as much as anyone about basketball, Sam was able to stand up proudly and say, “I am a gay man.”’
Field wrote that it was ‘one of the great privileges of my life to have been allowed to be a part of Sam's journey.’
Field urged people to get behind the Human Rights Campaign which is currently trying to raise $150,000 by the end of the month to help it fight so-called ‘religious liberty’ bills that have been proposed in a number of states that would allow religious people to deny goods and services to any person they disapproved of for religious reasons.
‘There are people out there - organizations and politicians, strangers who have never even met Sam - who would rather devote themselves to denying his happiness,’ Field wrote.
‘Why would anyone want to prevent my son—or anyone's son or daughter—from having basic legal safeguards like family medical leave, Social Security survivors benefits, or health insurance? It doesn't make any sense—but it won't change until people speak out. I'm proud to stand with HRC to add my voice. Will you join me?’
Field won Academy Awards for her performances in the 1985 film Places in the Heart and her leading role in 1979’s Norma Rae.
She was also highly decorated for her portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln alongside Daniel Day Lewis in the 2012 film Lincoln.