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Gay History – June 10, 1922: Happy Birthday Judy Garland! The Queen of Gay Icons.

Judy Garland Gay Icon

Forget Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and yes, (Sorry Matthew Rettenmund of Boy Culture) even Madonna.  Judy Garland was and always will be greatest gay icon of our time.  Garland led the way for gay men through the darkness for some 40 years.  Her pain, her joy, her talent, was there for the taking and everyone felt it..

Born Frances Ethel Gumm in Grand Rapids, Minnesota on June 10th. 1922, She was renowned for her contralto vocals and attained international stardom that continued throughout a career spanning more than 40 years as an actress in musical and dramatic roles, as a recording artist, and on concert stages

Garland herself had numerous gay friends from the beginning of her Hollywood career. She liked to visit gay bars with openly gay friends Roger Edens and George Cukor, to the chagrin of her handlers at MGM.   But Judy’s true connection with gay men was rooted in her ability to overcome the inner conflict, instability and loneliness that defined her life even during stardom. Judy’s necessity to maintain a “stage presence” at all times despite her inner turmoil led to a severe prescription drug addiction and eventually her tragic death. Gay men of the homophobic 50’s and 60’s identified with the dichotomy of her life as they too had to hide behind walls of perceived strength.

Garland’s journey to personal acceptance as the young Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz resonated throughout the gay community. Despite intense fear, confusion and a series of trials, Judy as Dorothy finally made it “home” by realizing that she possessed all of the heart, strength and courage needed to find the true happiness that lived within. Gay men of the past and today also embarked on adventures of self-discover through both the good and the bad that led full circle to self-acceptance.

Unfortunately today because of the AIDS epidemic and its annihilation of almost a generation of gay men of the era le’ Garland who worshiped her, Judy runs the risk of becoming a gay culture memory

The message of The Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland’s personal courage and strength is credited with giving many gay men the strength to come out and live their lives despite adversity. Thus came the expression “Friend of Dorothy,”

Happy Birthday Judy.  We still love you.


Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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1 thought on “Gay History – June 10, 1922: Happy Birthday Judy Garland! The Queen of Gay Icons.”

  1. Such a sweet tribute to my all time favorite. No one will ever replace her in my heart. I was in my early teens when she died. I was devastated. I looked forward to the day I could go to NYC and see her sing. It was a child’s dream but her passing was crushing nevertheless.

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