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Kathy Griffin: I Would Do It Again

Kathy Griffin

Despite the extreme backlash that came with the photograph of a bloody Trump head, the comedian has no regrets.


Kathy Griffin has been through hell and back.

As shown in the new documentary Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story, which screened Thursday at Outfest, the comedian endured an extreme backlash to the now-infamous photograph of herself holding a bloody facsimile of Donald Trump's head.

In the immediate aftermath of the May 2017 incident, Griffin became a pariah to American venues; she lost all of her U.S. tour bookings after the picture was published, and the Trump family and conservatives -- as well as many liberals -- condemned it. CNN dropped her from her long-running New Year's Eve broadcast with Anderson Cooper. Her mailbox flooded with death threats.

Due to the photograph, Griffin was also the subject of a federal investigation, which placed her on a no-fly list, as well as an Interpol list that resulted in detentions at every airport she visited on an international tour. Through it all, Griffin's sister lost her battle with cancer; she received death threats until her dying day.

During these airport detentions, as the film shows, the comedian was stripped of her phone and often sat in a room alone for hours. In addition to rumors of terrorist associations, Griffin also faced a charge of a conspiracy to assassinate the president, which could have resulted in a life prison sentence.

However, through it all -- and in spite of blacklisting by gay public figures like Cooper and Andy Cohen -- Griffin leaned on the lessons in resilience she learned from members of the gay community, which constituted her core fan (and friend) base from the onset.

"I just have been drawn to, let's just say, artistic folks," Griffin told The Advocate on the red carpet of the Outfest screening. "And as I got older, in high school ... when you frequent the musical theater department, I met a lot more gay people and heard their stories and witnessed various forms of discrimination."

"And then I became more aware and interested, but also I think the reason we get along so well in a natural marriage [is] I've always felt like I'm on the outside looking in," Griffin continued. "That's the show, My Life on the D List. I'm not on the list! Not A! That's something the community has responded to, that feeling of having to work harder and jump higher and knowing it and embracing it instead of [going], 'Oh whatever, we give up.' And I think that's why we get along so well."

"I've learned [so much] from the community," said Griffin. "As I say in the film, I'm honored to be your hag, and I'll be your hag forever. As long as you'll have me."

Knowing now what would come of the photo shoot, would Griffin do it all again if she could go back in time? "I would," Griffin declared.

"There are times when I wouldn't have said that. But now that I've been able to shine a light on this in a way -- even though the right wing is still shining a light on in a negative way; stuff happened last week -- I realized that there's so many more people coming around and it's just very gratifying when people go, 'You know what, in light of all this stuff that Trump and his ilk have actually done, this silly picture wasn't really that big of a deal.'"

"To them all, I still say, 'It's OK if you were offended, I have no problem with that. Just know that I didn't break the law. And if you did [a similar act], you wouldn't break the law or violate the First Amendment.'"

When Griffin took the stage following the screening, she was met with a standing ovation from the (mostly queer) audience members. Louis Virtel, the cohost of the podcast Keep It, introduced her as a "legend."

Through Fathom Events, Kathy Griffin: A Hell of a Story will screen one night only in theaters across the country July 31. Find a screening near you at and watch the trailer below.

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Daniel Reynolds

Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.
Daniel Reynolds is the editor of social media for The Advocate. A native of New Jersey, he writes about entertainment, health, and politics.