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Joan Rivers: “If you’re going to be a romantic idol and try to get every teenage girl to love you, then you’d be an ass to come out and say you’re gay.” can count on Joan Rivers to call it as she sees it.

The legendary comic, focus of the new documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, talked to The Advocate’s Brandon Voss about a host of topics including her thoughts on if young gay performers should keep their sexuality a secret:

“It’s part of the game,” Joan says. “If you’re going to be a romantic idol and try to get every teenage girl to love you, then you’d be an ass to come out and say you’re gay. That’s why Ricky Martin was so smart — he did what he did, he made his millions, and then he said, “Guess what, everybody? I’m gay, I’m having this life, and here are my children.” It didn’t matter anymore because he didn’t have to bring in 16-year-old girls.”

Q. Like Betty White, who sort of outed Cary Grant on The Joy Behar Show last week, you’ve surely encountered some closeted celebrities through the years.
A. Yes. But it’s a business. If everyone had known that Cary Grant was gay, he wouldn’t have been the great romantic idol, and that would’ve been the end of his career. Same with Rock Hudson, who was a very good friend of mine. He had a partner named Tom for years, and when you invited Rock, you invited Tom — there was no question. But if the world had known, maybe they wouldn’t have wanted to see him make out with Jane Wyman. It makes sense, in a way. If you’re looking at someone who’s your idol, thinking that maybe one day they’ll come ring your doorbell, you don’t want to hear, “There’s no chance in hell, honey, but still buy a ticket to the movie.”

I gotta say, Joan’s attitude is not going to help change the world. I respect her honesty but I think things are becoming less black and white and Ricky Martin’s coming out was a lot more complex than how she paints it here.

To read the entire interview, go to

FILE UNDER: Controversy


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5 Remarks

  1. Joan’s attitude is as old fashioned. Adam Lambert is out, is sexy as hell, and had people of all sexes, sexualities, races and creeds standing in line over night in NYC this week to see him. The amount of women of all ages in that line shows that times are changing. It’s time to care more about TALENT.

  2. The adoration of Adam Lambert will prove that Joan may be right about the past, but the present & future will be different.

  3. She’s definitely entitled to her opinion, because she’s been around for a long time, and seen a lot. We all know that homophobia exists in the media and our culture. However, change is happening right now through the bravery of certain amazing, talented, and appealing individuals. Many of us may not have realized until recently that we could be attracted to a gay person. Fortunately for us, we do now. Sexy is sexy and that’s that! Change is already here, and more change is gonna come!!!

  4. June 25th, 2010 at 7:05 pm
    Starry Night says:

    There are no secrets anymore. A simple Google search brings up oodles of pre-Idol pix that makes it obvious that Adam Lambert had never been in the closet in the first place. Young fans are the first to Google anything, so there would be no surprises there. The fact that they don’t care bodes well for Adam and future gay artists. I think it’s the techno-challenged 50+ set (including Joan Rivers) that may have their head in the sand regarding any privacy vis a vis public entities.

  5. Well, I think Joan was probably right about how the fans would have reacted to knowing Cary, Rock and Ricky were gay at the times of their greatest popularity with the ladies.

    But yes, times have changed with entertainers like Adam Lambert, NPH and John Barrowman being fully out and still having tons of female fans.

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