BY David Michael Conner
September 03 2009 11:00 AM ET
Kathy Griffin is a genius, no question. Through sheer will, shamelessness, and a stomach cramp–inducing sense of humor (if you’ve never seen her perform live, you have no idea what this woman is capable of), she essentially self-promoted her way from being Brooke Shields’s dowdy sitcom sidekick to a larger-than-life comedy and gay icon. Most recently, she proved herself worthy of the title "The New Queen of Mean" as she hosted Comedy Central's Joan Rivers roast and let the world know that the thin and crispy older comedy pioneer has an official heiress apparent. At the roast, Joan lamented that Kathy “stole my gays.”
Advocate.com: Thanks for talking with us today.
Kathy Griffin: Thank you! I have a little notation here that says this is regarding all my current projects. I like that! It makes me feel like I have lots of balls up in the air. And yes, that’s a double entendre. Yes, pun intended.
I just always have had gay friends. I was that girl in high school who went to the prom with my gay friend because we both thought, well, we’ll have fun.
What I admire about the LGBT community is that I feel, as a community, you guys are very good and smart about mobilizing and making things happen. And just as a female -- and as a female in comedy -- I feel that I identify with a group that has had to fight harder and jump higher and prove themselves over and over, so I feel a kinship with the LGBT community. We’re both at a point in our journey where we aren’t afraid to go there.
That’s a long-winded, serious answer, but I identify with the gay community and I feel that [civil rights] is a struggle we all share. What I feel most proud about when watching [the “Norma Gay”] episode is that my 89-year-old mother, a heterosexual woman who watches Fox News, got up there and had her sign -- and I love that her sign was funny; I think that was a great, smart way to go -- and that’s the kind of support, I think, that makes change happen. Because you’re no longer preaching to the choir; you’re now including people who never really thought about gay rights or thought that it didn’t touch them or didn’t affect them in any way. And then, in a pretty short amount of time with a pretty small effort, we can touch them and get them to go, "Ohhhh, yeah, this is as bad as racism ever could have been. This is something as bad as not giving women the right to vote. This is something that needs to change, and how can I help?"