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Rosie O'Donnell on Supporting Artists, Early Memories of The Advocate 

Rosie O'Donnell and Tracy E. Gilchrist

Following a wildly successful fundraiser for the Actors Fund that amassed more than $600,000 for out-of-work artists, technicians, and theater workers of all stripes, Rosie O’Donnell chats with The Advocate about this extraordinary time in which we are living as part of our new Inside With The Advocate series.

The comedian, actress, and talk show host shares about reprising The Rosie O’Donnell Show in March for a 3.5-hour fundraiser with Broadway luminaries including Patti LuPone, Ben Platt, Audra McDonald, Billy Porter, Stephen Sondheim, and dozens more.

On a Zoom call with the Advocate’s co-editor in chief Tracy E. Gilchrist, O’Donnell opens up about her early experiences reading the publication decades ago.

“The first thing was getting the Our Bodies, Ourselves book,” O’Donnell says, citing the "In Amerika They Call Us Dykes" chapter as life-changing. “I was overwhelmed with getting to read something about me that maybe I didn’t realize I was part of.”

"[Later] I would look to The Advocate when it came out and be afraid for people to see me reading it. It was a different world,” O’Donnell says, adding that she’s happy to see how things have changed for you LGBTQ people.

Expressing her love of Broadway and musical theater, O’Donnell talks about the importance of artists in hard times. And, of course, she sings part of a show tune for the interview.

O’Donnell also shares nuggets about how she considered her character in A League of Their Own to be gay and then launches into her spot-on impression of that film’s director, Penny Marshall.

She also touches on the episode of her talk show in 1997 during which Ellen DeGeneres jokes that the character on her sitcom was announcing that she’s “Lebanese” as a code for lesbian. O’Donnell, who responded, “I might be Lebanese too,” says she didn’t want DeGeneres to be out there in the uncharted territory on her own.

Watch the full interview below. And check back for more of Inside With the Advocate that features an array of virtual stories with some of our favorite LGBTQ artists, trailblazers, and allies including Emily Hampshire, Leslie Jordan, Ross Mathews, Kalen Allen, Sherry Cola, Fortune Feimster, Bruce Richman, Tonatiuh, and Harvey Guillén.

 

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