Longtime LGBT ally and AIDS activist Susan Sarandon has responded to a question about her sexuality by saying, “Yeah, I'm open. My sexual orientation is up for grabs, I guess you could say.”
The 70-year-old Oscar winner, whose anti-Hillary Clinton/pro-Jill Stein stance during the election garnered her more press than for any of her recent work, is busy promoting her highly anticipated upcoming project Feud, which explores the famous long-running Hollywood catfight between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. In the series, from the king of camp television Ryan Murphy, Sarandon plays Davis opposite Jessica Lange’s Crawford. In a candid interview with Pride Source to promote the show, Sarandon touched on her long history as an ally, her work with HIV and AIDS, and on her own sexuality.
Since the 1970s, Sarandon's career has aligned with the queer community by her playing Janet in the camp classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, engaging in one of cinema’s first lesbian sex scenes with Catherine Deneuve in the vampire flick The Hunger, and portraying half of the post-sexual duo of outlaws in Thelma and Louise (which Sarandon touched on in her appearance in The Celluloid Closet, the 1995 documentary about queer imagery in Hollywood). But her openness to representing the LGBT community on-screen long before the proliferation of queer characters on shows like Transparent and Orange Is the New Black appears to have roots in her personal life. She spoke with Pride Source about making queer friends in college and in her theater work who are still in her life.
“The people who I made friends with in my early day in New York in the '70s are still my friends,” Sarandon said, adding, “My friends I've had forever and ever and ever are gay men and women.”
Beyond her professional life and her friendships, Sarandon has spoken publicly about HIV and AIDS since the early days of the epidemic, something she discussed in an interview with Variety in 2015.
“I started speaking in public in the early days of the AIDS epidemic when there were huge demonstrations that didn’t even find their way into The New York Times,” Sarandon told Variety. “Having lost a lot of very close friends, who were given the message to die in shame somewhere out of sight, that activated me very quickly.”
Despite her representation for and work with LGBT people, Sarandon appears to have taken openness in her personal life to new levels in her interview with Pride Source. Married at age 20 to Chris Sarandon (who, incidentally, played transgender in the classic film Dog Day Afternoon), Sarandon was in a decades-long relationship with actor and activist Tim Robbins until their split in 2009. At an event for the Trevor Project in 2015, Sarandon also publicly applauded her son Miles, a musician, who “colors outside the lines” by occasionally wearing dresses. But Sarandon’s interview with the LGBT publication, published on Valentine's Day, touches on an ongoing personal fluidity.
When asked if she thinks sexuality is more or less rigid now as compared to prior generations, she explained that she’s a “serial monogamist,” having been in mostly long-term relationships, but added, “ I haven't exactly been in the midst of a lot of offers of any kind. I'm still not! I don't know what's going on! But I think back in the '60s it just was much more open.”
She then answered the question, “Are you open regarding your sexuality?” by saying succinctly, “my sexual orientation is up for grabs.”