Carol Leifer on the LAM

Carol Leifer came out at 40, got Bat Mitzvahed at 45, and adopted a son at 50. Now she has a new book that explains why the hard-to-pigeonhole comic is just along for the ride.

BY Rachel Dowd

May 11 2009 11:00 PM ET

CAROl Leifer x100 (HARRY LANGDON) | ADVOCATE.COM

And yet, they don't seem to be dying quietly. How much homophobia have you encountered?Your first piece of hate mail will change you. After I did Oprah [on March 25], I got the "You will burn in hell" letter. I thought I was prepared for something like that, but even 13 years in, it's still a kick in the face. How can someone hate me who doesn't know me? How can someone hate me after seeing me on a show where I'm so happy and I'm saying I'm living the best part of my life?

What other reactions have you gotten about your book?I went on The View , and I talked about having a partner for 12 years, and the audience applauded. I'll bet you there were plenty of women in that audience who would have voted against gay marriage and against gays adopting. It's one baby step at a time. I did Mike Huckabee's show, and his audience is obviously very conservative. They have a section called "The Hot Seat" where I got to ask him some questions. And I said, "Why do you feel people like myself shouldn't be able to adopt?" And he said, "Well when you phrase it that way, you make it so personal." Exactly. The more we're out there talking about our lives, our relationships, about our children, our families, it chips away at people. I got a few Facebook messages after that, saying, "Dear Carol, I am your typical conservative and I love Mike Huckabee, but I think gays should be able to adopt." You put a human face on it, and it's hard to discriminate, because you're talking about a real person. The only thing that's been disappointing in my press tour is that there's a misguided impression that, "Oh, you're 40 and it didn't work out with men, so you go to women." That's so off-the-map wrong.

They clearly don't realize you have two senior Chihuahuas named Cagney and Lacey. That's all lesbian.Sadly Lacey passed away a couple of weeks ago. But we've already adopted another senior Chihuahua named Mini Mo. She's 13, and they're bonding beautifully.

Has being gay changed your comedy?When I first started talking about being gay onstage I felt it wasn't working. The audience was like, You seem straight and now you're talking about being gay, what? I just kind of gave it up. But now I think I wasn't completely owning it, because it works completely now. I talk about having been married, and then I met this woman and my life spun around and we've been together for almost 13 years. And the audience always still applauds when I say how long we've been together, which is pretty amazing for a comedy club. I own it so much now. It wasn't the audience. It was me.

Your book is interesting because it's funny, but it's also heartfelt and inspirational. Ever think you need to bitter up your comedy?To be mean gratuitously has never been my thing. I can be snarky and cynical but not mean. There are so many parts of the book that I really do hope are inspirational. We are still changing and growing and the best part of you can still be around the corner.

Tags: Books

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