Roseanne Barr, Getty Images
No-Holds Barr

By Matthew Breen

Originally published on Advocate.com September 10 2013 5:00 AM ET

Roseanne Barr has been breaking barriers and pissing people off since before she was a household name, but she was a known quantity in my household, and our family wore a hole through the VHS tape of her 1987 HBO comedy special, then regularly watched her eponymous sitcom Roseanne (1988–1997) — which featured gay characters and the first televised lesbian kiss.

Born in Salt Lake City, Roseanne was raised — rather uniquely — as both Jewish and Mormon, and she has a gay brother and a lesbian sister. Though she’s as funny as ever and was recently in talks for a sitcom, Roseanne has become much more politically active, taking both right-wingers and Democrats to task on economics, whistle-blowing, and genetically modified foods. She ran for president on the Peace and Freedom ticket and came in sixth place with 67,448 votes in the general election. And she’s a force of nature on Twitter; the day I caught her she had just fired off this gem: “spam blocking all repiglican dim wits who suck brown bankster bungholes. #FUN”

Our July 23, 2013, conversation is reproduced here. It is abridged, but no spelling or grammar errors have been corrected. The full conversation is public and available on Twitter.

@matbreen Hi! Can I interview you over Twitter — on which you’re a rockstar — for The Advocate? I’m the editor-in-chief… and I’m from SLC

@TheRealRoseanne yay slc-we are taking over the world!

@TheRealRoseanne whenever I feel down, I think of SLC-where we all learned that we can change the world if we want to

@matbreen OK, this medium is great/peculiar, so apologies in advance for nature of short questions.

@matbreen Speaking of SLC, LDS are trying to shed antigay image. Would church really change it’s stripes on LGBTs? A revelation?

@TheRealRoseanne my sister saw mormon women marching for marriage equality in the sf pride parade! we do have influence, power 2 change minds.

@matbreen Yes, definitely progress. Think it’s possible at the institutional level too? Or is that too high a bar for LDS leaders?

@TheRealRoseanne actually- i believe the change came from inside the church-which has many gay priests in it-I give credit to @TroyWilliamsSLC

@TheRealRoseanne the church leaders realized they could no longer support the oppression of their own gay children-the word got out-we put it there

@TheRealRoseanne we put the word out that the Mormon church kicks it’s own gay children out on2 the streets-that hurt their “family friendly” image

@TheRealRoseanne I give power to the gay mormons who have made themselves known-who came forward-that’s how things change.

@TheRealRoseanne I also credit Marie Osmond-she has become a great activist w/i the church.

@matbreen You were 6th in prez election. Congrats! What did being a candidate teach you about the process, your most pressing issues?

@TheRealRoseanne I made a movie about american politics by running for office-what I learned: 2000 informed ppl who UNITE can change anything.

@TheRealRoseanne not out yet-still editing

@TheRealRoseanne I also learned that ppl think opposing something is more powerful than supporting something, and that is incorrect & backwards.

@matbreen What’s the status of new TV project? Your sitcom changed TV. Are any old struggles from making old show reappearing?

@TheRealRoseanne I’m doing porn now. It’s difficult, but I persist.

@TheRealRoseanne there’s NO way2 control ur writing-but,-the 10/90 seems 2 b the newest business strategy that could allow4 more artistic controls

@matbreen “Roseanne” was unique, and an exception historically. Are class issues and popular TV incompatible?

@TheRealRoseanne in some ways they r-but in other ways they aren’t-it all depends on who is writing & who watches-

@TheRealRoseanne to speak about class in america is to break the greatest taboo.

@matbreen Heard you talk about celebs in Hollywood who quietly thank you for speaking out on issues.

@TheRealRoseanne not quietly-covertly and with great trepidation.

@matbreen Can anything break thru Hollywood self-censorship?

@TheRealRoseanne it’s NOT self censorship-it’s corporate.

@matbreen What would it take to overcome corporate suppression?

@TheRealRoseanne changing a few minds

@matbreen Seems like merging of disparate progressive interests might be a solution. I see some evidence of that. Do you?

@TheRealRoseanne I keep trying to make that point, as Harvey Milk (my political idol) did-when progressives & labor join-it’s a done deal.

@matbreen You’ve said first to speak out is vilified. Do you feel you’ve been vilified, or blacklisted?

@matbreen I feel like you really rely on and relish your outsider perspective…

@TheRealRoseanne most definitely i do-it’s a continual thing-

@TheRealRoseanne I have no choice-it’s the way I am.

@matbreen And if you want to talk some trash, I’d love to know what you thought of the Geraldo nudie tweet.

@TheRealRoseanne he needs a head transplant-drunk old fucker