Mia Kirshner Fighting for Gay Malawian Couple: ‘There’s No Shame in Being Gay.’


Mia Kirshner, Immortal Princess of Darkness, part-time carnival employee and Founder / Director of I Live Here Projects, is asking for your help. A gay couple in Malawi, where any homosexual act is considered a crime, chose to marry each other in a public ceremony last December. They now face up to 14 years of prison and hard labor. In her piece on HuffPo, Malawi Gay Couple to be Imprisoned: I Will No Longer Keep Quiet, Kirshner shows not only her dedication to human rights, but also a level of honest optimism (and it’s not naïveté, not at all), that you can’t help but embrace as your own:

“What I know is true is that there is no shame in being gay. Love does not understand gender.”

“I won’t give up on this beautiful country because I know that these draconian laws betray the great beauty of this country I love so much.”

Here’s the deal: Mia is the perfect example of someone using their fame and accompanying resources for good, not evil. It’s clear that she views acting as a job – a way to make enough money to do charity work, not just a path to the most reliable coke dealer. Also, we can’t help but fall all over ourselves loving her because she’s been embracing gay roles and standing up for our rights long before it was considered cool. (Is it considered cool now? It’d f*cking better be.) This interview with Mia Kirshner from last year following The L Word’s abysymal final season includes some choice quotes reflecting Mia’s overall awesomeness:

AE: Did you like the way the series ended?
MK: No. No. No, I didn’t. But what can I say? We had so much freedom on The L Word, I think we became used to being able to have our say, and being heard on the show. But that’s not normal. That’s definitely a privilege that [creator and executive producer,] Ilene [Chaiken] and [executive producer,] Rose Lam gave to the cast.

Therefore, when things went down the way they did, it was surprising not to be asked, “Are you OK with this? What do you think of this?”


But they don’t have to do that. We were lucky to have jobs.

AE: What did you think when you got the script and found out Jenny was dead?
MK: I remember so clearly being so shocked at my own reaction. We were shooting the scene where Niki [played by Kate French] is trying to seduce [laughs] – I call everyone by their real name – Alexandra Hedison’s character at the club. We had just come back from lunch and finally, I had heard. There was all this speculation about what was happening, and it was really toward the end of the show. I remember being really upset by it, and being surprised by how upset I was.

There was the logical mind, where I was like: “This is just a character. You’re lucky that you worked so long, and it gave you opportunity to do so much.” But there was another part of me that was so sad because I tried to find the best in Jenny, in order to play her.

I agree with most of what people say about her, but here was a girl, if I can defend Jenny, who at the end of the day, seemed bi-polar to me. And an artist in search of herself. I never wanted Jenny to be a hero. I admired Ilene for making her a complicated, often unlikable character, but perhaps a truthful character that pushed people’s button.

But especially [during] Prop 8, what does this say about a show that was supposed to be about friendship? I guess I was just sad that there was no redemption on that end.

Later in the interview, in reference to a lady in a club in Vancouver coming up to her and telling her, “I hope you die”:

… I said, “Do you have a job?” And she said, “Yeah.” And I said, “Why do you work?” And she said, “To make money.” And I said, “That’s why I work, and that’s why I have a job and I need to make money. And that’s what I do. So when you say, ‘I hope you die,’ I assume you’re talking about my character, and not me. And it’s not nice. It’s not me, it’s my job and it’s what I do to pay my bills. And I just ask you to have a little kindness.”

And what does she do with that money that she makes from her job? Shit that actually matters.

So, getting back to the Malawi couple, Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, Mia echoes the same grumbling, disgusted, why-is-this-common-sense-yet-not-common-practice feelings I think you’ll probably relate to:

“I am angry. I am angry because the right to marry is the choice of an individual rather than a state. I am angry that a dusty law book decides who we have a right to love. I am angry because I know it’s hard to find love in the world and no one should ever stand in love’s way.”

Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza

Steven and Tiwonge will stand trial this week. Instead of sitting around pissed off and wondering what to eat for dinner, why don’t you sign this petition to urge UNICEF to pressure Malawi to ditch the trial and set these incredibly brave men free. (@huffpo)

You can read more about Mia’s efforts in her ‘paper documentary’ / book, I Live Here, which I am now going to purchase and eat alive, just like Jenny would’ve wanted.


There’s a whole segment of the gay population – mostly the ones who listen to NPR on their way to buy more Three-Buck Chuck for their ugly sweater parties – that will be falling all over themselves when they learn that the producers of NPR are releasing their own lip-dub version of Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” on Thursday. (@accesshollywood)



At long last Mary Glasspool is finally going to become a gay lady bishop in Long Beach, CA! “My commitment is to reach out to those who think or believe differently.” You go, girl! (@presstelegram)


Queen Latifah and her personal trainer who, I don’t know you guys, they must be really close friends or something because it looks like her name is on the deed too, how weird, have bought a new mansion in Hollywood. Pictures are over at Queerty. It looks baller. (@queerty)


Still have feelings even after our Queer Feminist Roundtable? Megan at Jezebel also has some thoughts on what it takes to be a feminist. “I was 19 and didn’t realize that “feminism” meant many different things to many different people, or that there was more than one way to be a feminist.” (@jezebel)


I can’t remember, are you guys into KStew? What about KStew in lingerie? Surrounded by other pictures of KStew? If you’re into that, it looks like Elle has got you covered. (@ohnotheydidnt)

Laneia is the Executive Editor and founding member of Autostraddle, and you're the reason she's here.

Laneia has written 927 articles for us.


  1. Mia Kirshner is one of my favorite beings because she dares to care about other human beings. My signature was # 71 on that petition & I felt great pride as I retweeted her HuffPo post and the petition, watching the signatures grow & grow. Last time I checked it, there were over 3500. Puts a little hope in my heart:

  2. I have been a Mia Kirshner fan I think since I first saw her in The Crow: City of Angels (mid 90’s) and I read her post when she put it up on FB late Friday night. I had just gotten home after a few drinks and it sobered me up quite quickly. Stars who use their money and fame for charity/civil rights always endear themselves to me. Actually *anyone* who uses their money and position to do good in the world instantly has my respect and attention.

  3. The inability to separate Mia Kirshner from the complex character Jenny Schechter that she played on The L Word has long been embarrassing to me. I have read many a fan site that has launched into vicious personal attacks. They all have in common one thing, the inability to realize it is called acting. The woman is doing humanitarian work and is also a very strong actress. But more than that, she is a human being. I am glad that she has not allowed the poor behavior of certain delusional fans leave a bad taste in her mouth when it comes to the LGBT community.

  4. Vaguely on topic, the Malawi couple’s plight reminded me of a news story I read today about civil partnerships and marriage for both gay and straight couples in Austria. It had the most wonderful quote:

    “You can’t be a little bit equal, in the same way as you can’t be a little bit dead or a little bit pregnant. You can only be equal or unequal.”

  5. Pingback: Why it is difficult to separate the Actor from the Character | RachelShelleyRX's Thoughts

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