My top All-Star interviews from Cher to RuPaul

I have written a column for Fugues for 27 of its 40 years. Here are some of the most entertaining celebrity quotes from my interviews in this column over the past quarter-century.

“I specifically recorded Strong Enough for my gay fans. They have been so loyal and so great. Gay fans usually love you when you’re in the dumps, in the toilet. They were there when other people weren’t.” – Cher, July 1999.


“Why does the gay community love me? Maybe it’s the butch in me! I’ve been asked that question so many times. But I will say this: In a crunch, when I’ve been in need, when things weren’t going well, the gay community always bailed me out. They’re my most loyal friends and following and they have a special place in my heart.” – soul singer Chaka Khan, June 2007.

“The 1970s was a time when the gay community was becoming more political and organized, and my song (Don’t Leave Me This Way) was very popular in the clubs. Because of that it remains very popular with the gay community, who have remained very loyal to me. Once they embrace you – unless you betray them – they will support you forever. They have been my most loyal audience.” – soul singer Thelma Houston, February 2014.

“Bless them. They’re my Glam Squad.” – the “Godmother of Soul” Patti LaBelle on her gay fans, July 2005.


“I have an ability to bring gay and straight people together. It’s all about the love.” – Donna Summer, May 2008.

“It makes me feel great!” – I Will Survive singer Gloria Gaynor on being a gay icon, August 2023.

“I owe everything to my gay fans ever since my Rent days. I am out there singing about empowerment and accepting who you are, and what makes you extraordinary in this world.” – Broadway performer Idina Menzel, August 2015.

“Gay men love me because I love them so much. I was one of the early ones. I was one of the first to come out and say gay men are fabulous. And it’s true. They gave me a career.” – comedian Joan Rivers, August 2013.

“The gay community loves survivors with big voices, and I fit the bill.” – Montreal singer-songwriter Luba, August 2014.


“We were doing a revival of Hosanna at Place des Arts in 1975 and this English CBC reporter surprised me by asking me, ‘By the way, are you gay?’ So, just to brag, I replied, ‘Yes, by the way, I am!’ It was on TV that night. The next morning I got phone calls saying, ‘If you said it in English, then you have to say it on French TV tonight!’ So I went on live TV. You know, if I was a singer, I’d ask myself, ‘Should I come out?’ Seducing audiences is not part of my life, my job. But it is for actors and singers. Less now, but in the 1970s I would never have come out. But I did. Strange thing was after I came out everybody on the streets, it didn’t matter to them. They kept on waving and saying hello to me.” – Montreal playwright Michel Tremblay, March 2010.

“My first restaurant job was on Saint-Laurent Boulevard at Mediterraneo, then Baïla and finally Buonanotte. Working in a restaurant helped me nurture lifelong interpersonal skills. You deal with all kinds of people when you’re a waiter. You work long hours, often holidays, and often till late at night or early in the morning. Restaurants taught me a good work ethic.” – Montrealer Antoni Porowski of Queer Eye, October 2019.

“I’m sure Montreal’s gay scene is treacherous today, it’s always been. I remember it was pretty down and dirty, especially since, with AIDS, New York kind of shut down. But Montreal remained pretty decadent and open. So I would come up to Montreal from New York to continue the lascivious fun!” – singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, June 2016.

“Montreal to Americans is sex city. It’s such a sensual place.” – RuPaul, July 2005.

“The Stonewall Inn today is not the Stonewall that we knew. I mean it’s like an amusement park down there. There are tours going through there all the time! There’s a lot of tourism. It’s not what it was.” – comedian Kate Clinton, May 2016.

“The corporatization of Pride was inevitable. This is kind of like something that needed to happen anyway. Of course it’s going to be very commercialized and corporate, but the spirit of Pride still comes from the grass-roots and not the mainstream. We’re in such a different place thinking about queerness, thinking about who we are. I think it’s great.” – comedian Margaret Cho, July 2019.

“Straight and gay people dancing together is the only way gay bars are going to survive today because young people don’t want to be segregated. They don’t just want to be with gay people, they want to be with their cool friends straight and gay. And that’s actually a healthy sign.” – Filmmaker John Waters, September 2016.

“There is some bootleg film footage going around which shows Bette (Midler) pulling me out of the crowd at the Continental Baths in 1971 and at some point – this was all set up beforehand by (composer and lyricist) Jerry (Blatt, Midler’s long-time collaborator) – she sort of sings to me, looks down at my crotch and says, ‘Oh, you’re disgusting!’ and pushes me back into the crowd because I had a hard-on at that point, but it wasn’t from her!” – The Godfather of Gay Lit, author Felice Picano, May 2015.

“I’m flattered when people call me a living legend, but I’m so over me.” – singer Carole Pope of Rough Trade, December 2011.

“I am very proud to be a queer person.” – singer and author Jann Arden, April 2022.

“I think being queer was an asset. Being very alternative was my secret weapon prior to coming out.” – kd lang, June 2008.

“The lesbian chic era was a very exciting time. Now that I look back upon it – we never knew it at the time, we were just scared and trying to make it in the entertainment business – at the time there were pool parties at my house with Rosie and Ellen and kd and all of us were hanging out. And we talked about what it might be like if we all came out. We were already so out within the industry and to all our friends that it just made sense that we would cross the line. We did. And each time we did it made us all reexamine our lives. In doing so, each of us united a whole community and hopefully gave other gays the strength to come out. Because that’s what changes the world, our coming out.” – Melissa Etheridge, September 2015.

“For any comic, doing The Tonight Show is huge. For me, it was a delicious way of proving people wrong. I was urged by different managers to drop the gay content of my act. They said it would prevent me from having a career. I knew other comedians who were gay but afraid to come out due to homophobia in the industry and in general. I’m proud that I was brave, and when I learn I’ve inspired someone else to be brave, I pat myself on the back.” – Bob Smith who in 1994 was the first out comedian on The Tonight Show, November 2016.

“I love rock and roll, but the business — it’s like any business. It definitely qualifies more and more under ‘show business’ as this ‘reality’ mentality takes over the world. It’s not great. They still don’t give girls in rock any recognition. All these years after The Runaways and the business still hasn’t changed.” – Joan Jett, July 2006.

“For so many years I was the gay man in the Heavy Metal closet. It was a double life for me. I couldn’t go to gay bars after a show. I couldn’t be out with my own people because of the fear of doing damage to the band and everybody else. My life was the classic example of putting everybody else first and putting yourself second. Which is the worst you can do to yourself.” – Judas Priest lead singer Rob Halford, August 2021.

“The concept of coming out is a very dangerous one because it is not the most in-depth thing. It’s like a firecracker that goes off. Then what happens afterwards? Sexuality and identity have been the ingredients of my music and lyrics since the beginning. It was always there. It’s just that my figuring out was done in a different way and under a lot of pressure, a lot of negative pressure, which was the worst possible thing that could be done. Developing a sense of candidness takes time. I’m really happy that I now have the freedom to deal with the concept of sexuality, labels and breaking those preconceptions and how you are supposed to deal with it.” – British pop star Mika, June 2015.

“I have friends and family who are gay. When I became a mom (in 1997) I sat down and read all the letters I got from people who said when True Colors came out (in 1986) it was the one thing that kept them going because they were suicidal, afraid of being disenfranchised by their families. I always feel that it is wrong to be that depressed about who you are. I saw my (lesbian) sister go through it. So when I stand there and sing True Colors, it’s no longer my song. It’s everybody’s song.” – Cyndi Lauper, March 2004.

Cyndi Lauper is a hero. I remember being starstruck when she came up to talk to us when we played a festival at Martha’s Vineyard in Cape Cod. Then years later, to be invited on her True Colors Tour – it was one of those moments, just hanging out with one of your icons.” – singer Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, February 2013.

“I love being a big man. I’ve been a big man most of my life. I found it terrorizing to be normal size.” – Canadian artist Evergon, May 2023.

“Dating has not been easy for me. In some ways because I’m so-called “famous” it is somewhat more difficult. But dating while trans is really hard anyway.” – actor Laverne Cox, July 2017.

“When I grew up, gay was one thing, drag was a whole other thing. None of it was really accepted, much less mainstream. I’ve been around long enough to know when it was a taboo. I was around when even gay men didn’t like drag queens because it was too gay, which was insane.” – drag performer Bianca Del Rio, March 2022.

“I got to witness the transformation of Drag Race to basic cable. Truth is, there’s always been a little distance between the queer community, radical drag and the most commercially successful drag that brings people together and creates employment structures outside of institutions where queer and trans people can be fully themselves.” – drag performer Sasha Velour, April 2023.

“When I’ve done drag I’ve always rejected terms like female impersonator because that’s not what I’m doing. As for drag queens being bitchy, they’re just being themselves! If I am parodying anything at all, it is the tools our society expects women to use to express their femininity. What I’m really doing is taking those tools – make-up, big hair and sequins – that our society decided women have to use and that men are not allowed to use.” – Irish drag performer Panti Bliss, March 2015.

“The idea of non-binary never occurred to be a possibility to me. So I watch with great interest as people go through this process. My generation it was all about fighting for sexual freedom, it was all about saying that homosexuality and heterosexuality are absolutely equal. The next generation was more politically normative. They were the generation – right after AIDS – that took on marriage equality which led to a lot of really positive steps. Now this next generation seems to be taking on the entire idea of gender. Do I consider myself non-binary? I don’t know what the fuck I consider myself. I’m 70-years-old, I’ve gotten this far doing things without titles.” – playwright Harvey Fierstein, July 2022.

“Straight people have trouble with everything to do with us and we have learnt not to let that bother us. People also laugh at me when I say Lincoln was gay. But I say, ‘How dare you laugh? Why is it impossible and why is it funny?’” – playwright and ACT UP co-founder Larry Kramer, October 2009.

“I found out Sylvester had AIDS when he called up my manager. Then he told me, ‘Girl, I got it.’ There was nothing I could say, you just deal with it, and he kept doing what he did – and that was working. You just try to live your life. I remember I was in New York back in 1993 and every day for a week or two, I kept getting telephone calls about somebody we knew had just died, whether it was a close friend or somebody in the business. It felt like it was a plague. It’s been over 25 years now since Sylvester died (in 1988), but HIV/AIDS organizations still need help. I have always maintained that I wish I wasn’t doing AIDS benefits, but I will continue to do them until this nightmare will really be over.” – singer Martha Wash of The Weather Girls, February 2014.

“Condoms are the most beautiful clothes to wear. AIDS affected a lot my entourage, close friends, coworkers and my partner who died from it in 1990. I started being involved with amfAR in 1992 when I did a benefit fashion show in L.A to fight against this terrible disease. People need to be educated about safer sex. Because even if you can take medications and control it, you still cannot cure it. So awareness is very important.” – French designer Jean Paul Gaultier, August 2011.

“When I was younger I was definitely less conscious of the effect I was having on young people. As I got older and smarter, I became aware. I am very proud when people come up to me and say, “The reason I came out was because of you and your music.” That is a responsibility that I take more seriously now as an older man. I am much more conscious about what I do and what I say since I may have more of an effect than somebody who isn’t in the public eye.” – singer Boy George of Culture Club, July 2018.

“Parents should support their LGBT children because they are our children! We are all the same inside.” – comedian and actor Carol Burnett, famously supportive of her daughter Erin, November 2017.


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