Cher on her LGBT connection: “It’s just like, we made a pact and we’re a group and that’s it”
There are more Cher interviews floating around out there right now than there have been in years. That’s because her new album, Dancing Queen, has just been released. The Broadway show based on her epic life opens in New York next month and she will also be in the spotlight as a honoree at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors.
She’s in the current issue of People Magazine (sadly not the cover!) and was on the cover of the Los Angeles Times Sunday Calendar section yesterday, among many other write-ups. I’m reading all of them! But this one with PrideSource is of particular interest because of the section about Cher’s long connection to0m the LGBTQ community.
Here is an excerpt:
When were you first aware that the LGBTQ community identified you as a gay icon?
I don’t think I was when I was with Sonny. I think it happened on “The Sonny and Cher Show” (which ran from 1976-1977), somehow. I don’t know – I don’t know how that happens. I mean, how does it happen? I have no idea! It’s just like, we made a pact and we’re a group and that’s it.
But you were seeing more of the LGBTQ community come out at some point? There was a switch?
Yeah, there was a change, there was definitely a change. And I think it was when I was not with Sonny anymore, and then somehow it all started to click. But I always had gay friends. I actually almost got arrested at a party with my best friend at school. He was gay but he couldn’t let anybody know, and he wanted me to go with him to a party and the party got raided. And we jumped out the bathroom window! It was high. We had to go over the bathtub into the window and jump out.
And you got away?
Do you recall the moment that galvanized you to stand up as an ally for the LGBTQ community?
I really don’t know if there was a moment. I’m not sure there was a moment; I’m not sure what it was. I just feel that, probably, there was a moment where guys thought I was just one of you. It’s like, there’s a moment where you’re either part of the group and you’re absorbed into the group and people love you as part of the group, or they don’t even know you’re alive, you know? Gay men are very loyal.
Look, I have a friend (makeup artist) Kevyn Aucoin – he’s dead now – but he told me when he was young, he was growing up in some place in Louisiana and said how horrible it was to have to hide and be frightened, and he said he loved listening to Cher records. I think that’s a dead giveaway! Haha! If you want to hide being gay, do not buy Cher records!
And I had another friend who had a Cher poster on his wall. I don’t remember where he came from – some small town too – and his dad ripped it off the wall and he bought another one, put it inside his closet and said it was a way to really be who he was in spite of who his dad wanted him to be.
When in your life have you felt like the LGBTQ community was on your side when the rest of the world maybe was not?
Always. I remember when I was doing (the play) “Come Back to the Five and Dime” (in 1976) and we had standing room only before we got reviewed, and after we got reviewed nobody came except the community – the community, and little grey-haired old women who came to matinees. We managed to stay open until we could build back up the following. Also, the gay community, they just don’t leave you, they stay with you; that’s one thing that always keeps you going.
What does that loyalty mean to you?
There’s been sometimes where I was just, you know, heartbroken about things, but it always gives you hope when there are people who think that you’re cute and worthwhile and an artist. It’s a great thing to have in your back pocket.