A lot of people really dislike Elisabeth Hasselbeck. For one, she's a Republican, which is like being on the second cast of Designing Women: no matter how funny Jan Hooks was, no one ever really got on board, because she was "no Jean Smart." (And by "no one," I mean no one but me. I love Jan Hooks so much, but that's beside the point.)
I really love Elisabeth Hasselbeck. I've watched The View from the beginning, and it's been a huge part of my life for the past 15 years. I was home-schooled for all four years of high school because I was afraid of being bullied, but also so that I could watch The View every day.
Elisabeth joined The View after getting super famous super fast on Survivor. She was a gorgeous, young, blond, and conservative, and America was instantly fascinated. She said some questionable things about gay people and women's right to choose and got into feuds with some of our nation's most respected liberal celebrities. At some point in there, gay people decided that hating Elisabeh Hasselbeck was the "in" thing to do, like Instagramming or watching Taylor Armstrong's life fall apart on Bravo every Monday night.
However, not everyone is as addicted to The View as my boyfriend Patrick and I are, so not everyone has watched Elisabeth come into the light on the issue of gay marriage during the past few years. Just this week she spoke out on Pope Benedict XVI's hate-filled comments on our basic civil rights, saying, "For people to actually say that gay marriage is harming marriage and the idea of marriage is inhumane."
I posted the video clip on my Facebook page, which ignited a large comment thread of the usual Hasselbeck hatred, which I frankly find a little too 2007. My boyfriend and I are constantly defending Hasselbeck anytime she comes up in conversation. My boyfriend is her biggest fan and greatest cheerleader. The mere mention of her name always leads him to tell his amazing Hasselbeck story, one I've heard so many times now that I literally know it by heart.
I have a friend of a friend who works at The View, and while Patrick and I were in New York this past September, I surprised him with a ticket to a taping. I had to work, so Patrick went alone and was seated on the very front row. On his way there he tweeted to all the co-hosts about his overwhelming excitement to attend a taping of the show. As the co-hosts made their entrance and took their seats, Elisabeth looked directly at Patrick with a knowing smile and waved. During the commerical break Elisabeth called out to him, "PattyMac! PattyMac!" which is Patrick's Twitter handle (@PattyMac42) and high school nickname. Patrick looked around to see who she was talking to, then realized she was calling out to him. Patrick spent all of the Hot Topics segment attempting not to wet his pants. (I added that, not Patrick, but I can only assume it's at least partially true.)
Patrick remained on cloud nine until the commercial break, when they allowed a few audience members to ask Elisabeth and Whoopi questions. Patrick's hand was the first one raised, and seeing his intense excitement, they gave him the mic, and he said, "Elisabeth, as a gay man, I just want to thank you for being a constant champion of equal rights. My question to you is: what is the greatest lesson you've learned at The View?"
Elisabeth put her hand on her heart and thanked him for saying that. She told him, "Bringing it back to what you said on gay rights, when my conservative friends first approached me about gay marriage, I'd always ask them if they actually knew anyone who's personally gay. The ones who said, 'Yes, I do," were the ones who always supported gay marriage, because they recognized, as you and I both know, that love is love. Those who opposed the issue were the same ones who said they did not know anyone who was gay. That's the biggest lesson I've learned: to not have an opinion on something you don't know anything about."
After the show she called Patrick to the stage and gave him a huge hug and told him how much what he said about gay rights meant to her. She blew him a kiss, and Patrick hasn't stopped smiling since.
I think what people don't remember is that people can change, views can alter, and realizations are had. Just because Elisabeth Hasselbeck might not have agreed with gay marriage 10 years ago doesn't mean we shouldn't celebrate the fact that she does now. We're supposed to be the accepting ones, the open ones, the nice guys. We're supposed to set the example of what we want to see from our conservative allies. So let's.
On behalf of my boyfriend Patrick McDonald and me: thanks, Elisabeth Hasselbeck. You rock.