Scott Kennedy was a brilliant comic who had all the trappings of success: a Comedy Central special, late-night appearances, a busy road schedule. But just as his career began to heat up, so did our military involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq. So he put his stateside career on the back burner to entertain the troops through several USO tours. Then he organized his own touring show, Comics Ready to Entertain, because -- get this -- the USO wouldn't take him to dangerous-enough military bases. Over the course of more than 50 trips to Afghanistan and Iraq, in up to five shows a day, he gave our men and women overseas a bit of the love they sorely needed. "You have to give them a little bit of home," Scott said at the time. "They have to feel normal once in a while."
Through most of his career, Scott Kennedy was also an openly gay comedian. With his ever-present football jersey, tattered ball cap and spare tire, he didn't look the part, and he used that to his advantage; when he addressed his sexuality onstage, it was usually toward the end of his set, after a new audience thought they had him figured out. Scott defied expectations and broadened minds. He was an out gay comedian in a time when it was not at all easy to be an out gay comedian, and often in places where it was not at all easy to be an out gay comedian, for example in Iraq and Afghanistan, or in front of our troops at the height of "don't ask, don't tell," or, hell, in a comedy club.
Scott Kennedy was talented, generous and brave. And last Thursday, Scott Kennedy died in his sleep. He was not yet 50 years old.
Since then, I have checked the websites and news networks that fall all over themselves to remind you how patriotic and pro-military they are, because surely one of them would want you to know about this patriot who risked his own safety to raise our military's spirits. Nothing. (Though Breitbart does carry several gloating editorials about how much Satan in Mark Burnett's The Bible resembles Barack Obama, so by all means, read each one.)
I've checked the gay-news websites, as one of them would certainly want readers to know about a trailblazing out comic who did the crucial work of personally changing people's minds, one comedy club and remote military base at a time. Nothing. (Towleroad does link to the third video in the "Interview With an Underwear Model" series, wherein a man with abs tells us about the craziest thing he's ever done. It was bungee jumping off a crane, if you were wondering.)
This week a has-been folk singer claimed that God hates gay people, and we've rewarded her with more attention than she's gotten in the last 20 years put together. Scott Kennedy's career was a testament to the fact that we are all worthy of love, and that we're all expected to love each other, especially when it's difficult. Scott Kennedy did the right thing, quietly, in about a dozen difficult ways. So where's his attention?
It's so easy to point at the people who are doing things wrong and reach out to turn their volume down. It's also weak. It's more challenging to find the people who are doing things right and crank their volume up. Scott Kennedy's life gives us a perfect opportunity to start doing that very thing right now. Check out some of the videos and links below. Share them with your friends. Learn more about what Scott did, and about what you can do to keep his mission alive. And then go hug the living hell out of someone.
Scott Kennedy discusses Comics Ready to Entertain:
Scott Kennedy on The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson:
Lolflix's tribute to Scott Kennedy: