MW: Why did our gay cause become so important to you? Was there a specific catalyst?
GRIFFIN: We found each other. We just found each other. I mean, truly, ever since I was a little kid – this is gonna sound cliché, but it’s true, so fuck it – but when I was a little kid, I put on musicals in my garage, and sure enough it was the little gay boys who were the most likely to do it with me. As I grew up and started dating in high school, I didn’t know that the guys I was dating would go on to become choreographers at Disney World. I am what you call a ”gay maker.” I believe I can take a heterosexual man and turn him gay, at least at a formative age.
So we just found each other. In my live shows, part of the vibe is reaching out to the disenfranchised. I mean, I had a show called My Life on the D-List. Certainly what that show was about was being in the Hollywood community but still being an outsider. And you know, on my talk show Kathy, I have civilians on, and some celebrities, if they’re willing to play – but believe me, you’re not going to see Gwyneth Paltrow on my couch. Not that she’s not invited, but she’s just had it with my shit.
So I feel that’s something the LGBT community and I have in common. There’s a part of me that is always going to feel disenfranchised, and yet you have to laugh about it. And one thing I learned about working so much with the community – and by that I mean everything from visiting hospices to performing at the White Party or just doing shows where a lot of gay people come to see me – is they’re great laughers. There’s something about being part of an oppressed minority that makes you want to laugh more. I call them my ”unshockable gays.”
I heard on Twitter yesterday from a gay guy in the South who said something very touching. He said, ”It’s very hard to be a gay man in the South and sometimes when I watch you on TV, it’s the only thing that makes me laugh.” And, not to be corny, but that’s why I do it.
MW: You’ve been politically active and outspoken for years. You were doing things long before other celebrities.
GRIFFIN: I’m glad you say that. I appreciate it. Yeah, I’ve been in it for a while, and I’m gonna be in it forever. To this day, it is not uncommon for me to be doing a ”meet and greet” before a show. And I’ll have a straight guy come up to me and say, ”You know, I came to this show – my wife dragged me – and I don’t think I’ve ever even met any gay people and it was a blast and I laughed really hard.” To this day, there are people coming to a silly little Kathy Griffin show that think they’ve never met a gay person before. They’ll say, ”Wow, this is a bunch of gay guys and they’re sure in good shape. I’ve never met one.” And I’m like, ”Well, I think you have. Maybe at your church.”
The ironic thing is with doing Kathy I’m getting all these straight guys on. I [recently had on] three hot Marines. And they’re straight guys and they’re cute and so they really do appeal to everybody. The straight guys want to be them. The girls want to fuck them, and so do the gays. So I’m building bridges. I’m building bridges between hot guys, the LGBT community and women everywhere. And isn’t that what’s important?
MW: Do you remember the first time somebody came out to you and how you reacted?
GRIFFIN: Absolutely. One of my first boyfriends, Tom Murphy, came out to me in high school. We’d actually dated and kissed a little bit. Obviously, he was in that place where he wasn’t sure what was going on or he thought he would give heterosexuality a shot, I don’t know. But when he came out, we still did all the same stuff, except kiss. We still hung out. We still had sleepovers. It was an innocent time. I mean for God’s sake, I graduated high school in 1978, so it’s not like he and I were sexually active!
The phrase that I feel resonates with people is quite simply to say, ”I see you.” ”I see you.” And I’m the expert. I’m onstage – I want people to fuckin’ see me! And there’s something about being in a culture where for whatever reason you’re not allowed to be out in a crowd, or be who you are, and you’re not seen. You may be bullied, you may be ignored, you may be barely tolerated, but everybody wants to be seen.
MW: One of the things that helps with visibility is celebrities who come out. We’ve seen that with Ellen and Neil Patrick Harris. We’ve seen it recently with Jim Parsons. How do we encourage more closeted gay celebrities to come out?
GRIFFIN: You don’t encourage them. It is too fucking personal. They’re gonna do it in their own time. People think I out people. And let me tell you, I do not. I mean, I used to tease Clay Aiken because he would do all these interviews about not finding the right girl, but I didn’t out Clay Aiken. I’m not a fucking journalist. I tease Ryan Seacrest and say, ”Oh, she has pretty hair.” I’m pretty sure Ryan’s straight – I just think it’s funny that he’s so manscaped. But no, I’m a big believer in people coming out in their own time because I have fucking seen it myself. My good friend Lance Bass was forced out of the closet – forced out of the closet. This is a guy who was from the Deep South. His family turned on him for a while. It was extremely difficult.
So before we want to out everybody that we fuckin’ feel like outing because it’s in our best interest, keep in mind it’s a big world out there and there are people – you know, obviously journalists – that go to parts of the world where they will assassinate you the minute they think you’re gay. And by the way, they will assassinate you in a different way than they would assassinate a heterosexual person. So you know what? It’s a bigger issue. We don’t all just live in major metropolitan cities and blue states. It’s fuckin’ rough out there. I meet vets backstage and even though ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has been repealed, it’s fuckin’ rough. I met a guy last night and he was hurtin’. He was hurtin’. He was active military and ”Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” hasn’t exactly sunk in with his buddies yet. It’s gonna take time.