I have to confess that before last month’s Television Critics Association Summer Tour in Los Angeles, I hadn’t the faintest idea who Pauley Perrette was. Turns out she’s one of the stars of CBS’ NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service where she plays Abby Sciuto. The show’s a hit and according to my fellow critics, Pauley is fantastic on the show.
But while I was interviewing Survivor‘s Jeff Probst at the CBS party, I knew nothing about Pauley when she politely interrupted to say hi to Jeff. All I knew then was that she was very striking looking — and was wearing a Legalize Gay t-shirt at a party where everyone else was dressed up in order to impress and promote their own shows.
As soon as I finished interviewing Jeff, I went hunting for Pauley because I really wanted to know more about this person who was so visibly advocating for my rights. And am I ever glad I did. As you’ll see in the interview below, this New Orleans native is one of the most articulate and passionate advocate for gay rights that you’ll ever meet. Honestly, I wish most of the gay folks I know cared as much our rights as Pauley does.
AfterElton.com: Pauley, we’re here at the CBS party and you’re wearing a Legalize Gay t-shirt, and I’m really curious as to why you are wearing it and how you came to be such a big supporter of gay rights..
Pauley Perrette: I am a lifelong civil rights activist, and right now, our generation, this is our movement. When I’ve watched footage from the 60s, I’ve always wished I was there, even as a white female, I wished I was there for that. Or before with the women’s suffrage movement, when we needed strong men to stand up and say, this is not civil rights, these people don’t have their civil rights.
This is what this country is supposed to be founded on. Now, this is our movement. I am a straight, white female, but in my femaleness, we had to have men stick up for us, and in the civil rights battles of the 60s, it took people of all colors to stand up and say, "This is just wrong across the board."
I consider it my duty to stand up for what is right, because what is going on is completely wrong. I give speeches on this, and there’s long articles in The Advocate and everything else, but if you look at anti-miscegenation laws, which was a Federal law against people of different races marrying each other, including Native Americans — we only got rid of that in 1967 because of Loving vs. Virginia. Now, people look at that and go, "Oh, that’s crazy."
And it is crazy, but what’s going on now is crazy as well. And it’s very, very hurtful, and it’s very, very wrong. It’s going to take all of us, everybody, standing up and saying, "Look, we say we have separation of Church and State in this country, we don’t. We really, really don’t. At all.
I also am involved with Hollywood United Methodist Church, the big one on Highland and Franklin [in Los Angeles]. We as a church are on the forefront of the movement, which is important because we’re a church. These are my words before I say their words, and my words are this — and I grew up down South in the church: The church started this. The Church pulled a Bible verse telling us that black people are scary. The Church pulled a Bible verse that said that women aren’t equal. The Church pulled a verse that says those pesky gays are so scary and dangerous.