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Rosie Jones recalls coming out as as she recites Armistead Maupin's tear-jerking 'Letter to Mama'

The comedian delivers one of literature's most powerful queer moments in Speaking of Pride, empowered by Bentley.

2021-06-24

Rosie Jones is going to bring a smile, and possibly a tear to your face as she marks Pride by reading on one of queer literature's most powerful passages - Armistead Maupin's Letter to Mama - for Speaking of Pride, empowered by Bentley.

The comedian, 30, recalls her own coming out experience as she recites the extract from Maupin's 1980 novel More Tales of the City, in which beloved character Michael Tolliver tells his mother that he's gay.

Maupin had originally written the letter to his own mother in the 1970s, but never sent it; instead publishing it as part of his famous Tales of the City series.

Explaining why she chose this extract Rosie for Speaking of Pride, empowered by Bentley, Rosie says: “I love the series of books. They’re funny, warm, and so full of love. And I really feel like I’m part of that family in San Francisco."

The stand-up comic and former Attitude Comedy Award winner goes on: “I chose this extract because I remember feeling so scared to come out to my mum. I didn’t know how she would react.

"Luckily, she was great. She was amazing. But I need to remember how lucky I am.

"When some queer people come out to their parents, they don’t get an ‘I love you’ or a hug. Sometimes it takes time.”

As she recites 'Letter to Mama', Rosie delivers lines that have stayed in the hearts of LGBTQ people for more than 40 years: “Being gay has taught me tolerance, compassion, and humility. It has shown me the limitless possibilities of living. It has given me people whose passion and kindness and sensitivity have provided me with a constant source of strength."

Maupin's Tales of the City books about a group of people living in San Francisco in the 1970s were praised (and, naturally criticised) at the time for their frank, non-judgmental exploration of sex, drugs, and the LGBTQ issues.

The books were initially published episodically in the San Francisco Chronicle before being published as novels and eventually made into a TV series starring Laura Linney and Olympic Dukakis. A sequel miniseries was released on Netflix in 2019.

Murray Bartlett, who starred in the revival, spoke to Attitude in 2019 about what the series meant to him.

"I have so much love for Tales of the City", the actor said at the time. It’s something very special and kind of profound, I guess, to me and to a lot of people, because it [originally] came at a time when there weren’t many — if any — characters and shows that were such a celebration of being openly gay and being yourself."

Also taking part in Speaking of Pride is swimmer Michael Gunning, trans author and journalist Juno Dawson, the co-founder of UK Black Pride Lady Phyll Opoku-Gyimah, and comedian Tom Allen.

Speaking of Pride, empowered by Bentley, is part of Attitude Pride at Home, in association with Klarna, that runs from 17-27 June at attitude.co.uk, youtube.com/attitudemag and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@attitudemag).

Attitude Pride at Home, in association with Klarna, is to benefit the Attitude Magazine Foundation for LGBT causes – this year supporting ten amazing organisations including AKT, Black Trans Foundation, Curly’s Legacy, Elton John AIDS Foundation, The Food Chain, Kaleidoscope Trust, LGBT Youth Scotland, Mermaids, Stonewall UK and Switchboard LGBT.

Each will receive at least £1000 courtesy of our sponsors Klarna, Bentley, Clifford Chance, Slingsby, Swatch and Taimi and individual supporters.

To donate £5 please text ATHOME5 to 70480 or see our Virgin Money Giving link here. Visit attitudemagazinefoundation.com for more details.