When famous women flaunt their relationships with gays, it can have a disingenuous aura—like a clever marketing ploy to cash in on the gay dollar. Kathy Griffin is another story entirely. “We have each other’s back,” she says.
Kathy’s affinity for our community started in school. “I was beyond a nerd,” she says. “I was that girl who went to the dance with a gay guy, but he didn’t know he was gay yet. I asked four guys to the Sadie Hawkins dance, and they all said, ‘No.’ Do you know how embarrassing that is? And then, one adorable gay man who just happened to be in Fiddler on the Roof with me said, ‘Yes.’ We’ve been friends ever since.”
Griffin takes her school experiences in stride. “I was picked on relentlessly,” she says. “The jocks and the cheerleaders gave me vocational training. You learn humor to survive. That is something I love in the gay community.” Her posse had its fringe benefits—her parents didn’t freak if she stayed out a bit late. “My mom was grateful I wasn’t going to get date-raped by sketchy drunk dudes,” Griffin says. “The worst we were going to do was light Bedazzling or flipping through fashion magazines.”
Griffin has been honored with awards from GLAAD, Lambda Legal, and The Trevor Project. She rattles off a litany of gay events—fundraisers, bear jamborees, porn awards—she’s performed at recently. If sodomites throw it, Griffin will be there. “I just performed for sober drag queens,” she says, “which is a very specific subset.”
Since her Emmy–winning reality show Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List ended, Griffin has gone back to stand-up. She’s had three specials on Bravo this year, and a fourth will air in December. Next, she wants to do a talk show. But no matter what, she’ll never forget her fans: “I read every single twat someone sends me on Twitter.”
Photographed in Los Angeles by Gavin Bond, September 28, 2011