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Lisa Vanderpump rode on an English double-decker bus in the L.A. Pride parade with U.K. Consul General Chris O’Connor and Downton Abbey’s Lesley Nicol. (Photo: Courtesy Lisa Vanderpump)
In the wake of the horrific Orlando tragedy, many around the world have come together to support and remember the victims.
We spoke with Lisa Vanderpump last week about the importance of June’s LGBT pride festivities, and the reality star and co-producer of Vanderpump Rules says that it’s now more important than ever to forge ahead and show courage in the face of adversity.
“I was deeply saddened and devastated, like the rest of the world,” she told Yahoo Celebrity. “We’ve seen unbelievable pictures of what’s going on in London, Paris, and in Orlando of people coming together and showing compassion and unity when needed, and the LGBT community needs support. They’ve been attacked, violently, egregiously attacked.”
When learning of the tragic news on Sunday — and the news that someone was apprehended with firearms on the way to the L.A. Pride festival — Lisa had to decide whether to continue filming Vanderpump Rules, as planned.
“I did say to my staff, it was up to them to work. I made the decision [to film], and it wasn’t one out of bravery — I don’t want that to be self-gratifying. It was one out of unity and loyalty and standing up for what’s right,” she said of her choice. “To walk away from it would be to let the perpetrator win, and that wasn’t the message I wanted to send to the world. We should send to the world a message of compassion, condolences, and unity.”
For those who are hooked on the Bravo reality show, you know that past Pride episodes are usually ones where Vanderpump’s staff gets drunk and disorderly. However, this one will have a different tone.
“I took a meeting with our producer, Bill Langworthy, who’s a remarkable man, and we [agreed] we couldn’t just show the frivolity of [the festival],” she explained. “When it airs, it will be months from now, but we have to acknowledge how this all made us feel. I couldn’t walk into [my restaurant,] Pump, without talking to people and thanking them for coming and supporting the LGBT community, and thank them for their bravery for showing up.”
However, a few of her staff-slash-cast-members didn’t show up. “I’m not condemning them for that — although it will be obvious who didn’t show up — but they were scared. I would never tell them they have to be there,” she said, adding that Jax Taylor and Tom Sandoval stepped up, showing leadership and compassion. “I saw tears from them.”
“When this [episode] comes out, it will draw attention to it again and how we all felt,” she added. “It will show we will not be beaten, and we need to stand up.”
Something else Lisa is standing up for, or rather taking a stand against, is the Yulin Dog Meat Festival, which happens every year on the summer solstice. At this annual “festival” in China, thousands of dogs are killed and eaten.
Lisa led a Stop Yulin Forever march in October. (Photo: Getty Images)
“It was brought to my attention because when we started Vanderpump Pets, I started immersing myself more in doggie culture. We thought, ‘What could Vanderpump Pets support?’ We wanted to tie in something to the business we’re entering. Then the pictures of the Yulin Festival were brought to my attention,” she explained. “I couldn’t believe the barbarianism. I couldn’t believe this festival believed in torturing dogs … It’s torture from the moment they are captured. We have seen pictures of the dogs being pegged up, dogs being skinned alive, dogs trying to [get free], dogs strung up from their neck.”
Lisa paused, overcome with emotion.
“This is truly ruining my life. It’s in my day, my mind, my thoughts, I can’t un-know it, I can’t un-see it, I can’t turn away. Turning away is condoning it,” she stated. “Look at these pictures. Let it burn a hole in your heart, and retweet it. Get this out there.”
Lisa and her partner, John, have done a PSA, are working on a documentary about the festival, and are releasing a song that Diane Warren gave to them featuring Leona Lewis, which will be available on iTunes June 17.
“What we need is people to shout it from the rooftops. I need [California] Gov. Brown to help us and for people to contact him. He doesn’t want to get involved … Apparently this cause isn’t worthy of his time, and I believe it is,” she said. “I feel like people will now question, ‘Why are you worried about dogs when 49 people have just been slaughtered?’ I’m not minimizing any cause, they are all important to me. But this is a cause and campaign we’ve been on for a year. America is a nation of dog lovers. I believe this cause will have a following. LGBT is something I’ve been incredibly supportive of for years, and we have been devastated by [Orlando]. There are so many causes, I don’t think by supporting one you minimize another. Choose your cause and support it, but don’t minimize mine. I will do anything in my power to stop this festival.”