“I need to say right here, honestly and unashamedly – I love gays. I always have, always will. I have proved it, over and over. I met my first homosexual friend while I was in high school. He was a Navy veteran who had come back to finish his schooling. He put his hand on my thigh while we were parked at a fast food drive in. I was a cow milker with a vise-like grip, and after I nearly squeezed his wrist off, letting him know he had the wrong guy, he said, ‘I guess you’ll tell everybody, and I’ll get kicked out of school.’ I assured him I wouldn’t, and I told nobody. I really felt empathy for him, because he obviously was not a happy man. I’ve been in the entertainment business for over 50 years now, and I’ve had many dear and close friends, guys (and some gals) I have loved who were practicing homosexuals. How could I not? We forged real friendships, never strained or awkward. We each knew the other’s perspectives and respected them. Every one of them can tell you that I’ve never condemned or made them uncomfortable, in my home or theirs, though they knew I couldn’t approve their sexual practices. So what? We were friends, and we could be honest with each other…
“Years ago, I sat by the bed of one of my closest friends as he lay dying in a VA hospital. AIDS didn’t have a name yet, but that’s what was killing him. His teeth had fallen out; he had no immune system left. We prayed together, and I saw him off to heaven. I loved Roger.
“Later (you may be surprised to learn), I really went out on a limb and wrote two books, about and with homosexual friends. The first was “Joy: A Homosexual’s Fulfillment,” and the second “Coming Out: True Stories of the Gay Exodus.” They were written with a longtime lesbian, a former very promiscuous male homosexual and with a transsexual man who had emasculated himself in an effort to be a woman. They’d been down the whole road and back again, and they told me their stories and how they’d each been able to leave the homosexual lifestyle. This was not expedient for me as an entertainer, but I did it out of real love for gays. I do care.
“…I prayed with Rock Hudson and placed my hands on his bony chest, anointing him with oil, right at the end of his life. He couldn’t speak because of the lesions in his throat, but the grateful glow in his eyes told me all I needed to know. There was love between us – and I saw him off to heaven, too. I know I’ll see him there again.Me, homophobic? Ridiculous. I love my homosexual friends, but I detest these irresponsible street tactics that can and do lead to violence.”