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Lucille Ball Supported Gay Rights In 1980: "How Can You Knock It?"

Lucille_Ball Today would have been comedienne Lucille Ball's 100th birthday.

As people celebrate in their own way -- Google changed their homepage to honor the legendary entertainer -- I've stumbled upon a 1980 interview Ball did with People magazine in which she says she's no fan of Lily Tomlin, believes in women's rights, but doesn't participate because "I've been so liberated I have nothing to squawk about," and comes out for gay rights, still a relatively taboo subject those thirty-odd years ago.

How do you feel about gay rights?

It's perfectly all right with me. Some of the most gifted people I've ever met or read about are homosexual. How can you knock it?

If only Ball were alive today to see how far LGBT people have come, and how many of us still adore her.

In honor of Ball, watch once of her most famous scenes -- working at the chocolate factory -- AFTER THE JUMP...

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  1. I've been a fan of Lucy since I was in diapers. She is and likely will always be my favorite comedienne and TV actor.

    Posted by: sparks | Aug 6, 2011 10:08:15 AM

  2. This still makes me laugh....every time. Filmed during a time when it was taboo to see a woman eating on television, let alone stuffing her mouth, and her bra. It was one of many "firsts" in the Lucy archives. Man, she was a master in her class.

    Posted by: Paul | Aug 6, 2011 11:00:46 AM

  3. Lucille Ball was not only innovative as a entertainer but as a businesswoman. By controlling her own business destiny, she could break societal barriers, like appearing on television pregnant.

    Vitameatvegemin is my favorite -- "It's so tasty, too!"

    Posted by: jpeckjr | Aug 6, 2011 11:06:38 AM

  4. Have always loved I Love Lucy

    Posted by: say what | Aug 6, 2011 11:28:28 AM

  5. Oh and hey trivia

    Desilu productions , her and Desi's company produced Star Trek when no one else would

    She and Desi were ahead of their time

    Posted by: say what | Aug 6, 2011 11:30:03 AM

  6. I've always adored her. Happy birthday, Lucille!

    Posted by: kc | Aug 6, 2011 11:45:45 AM

  7. I'm sorry, but gay rights was not a "taboo" subject in 1980. The whole Anita Bryant blow-up had already happened by then, after the Miami-Dade Council had passed a gay rights ordinance (and Dade was hardly the most progressive jurisdiction in the country or the first to pass such a law).

    And what Lucille Ball said ("It's all right with me") could hardly be considered a rousing endorsement, even for that time. The "some of the most gifted people I've ever met" remark was similar to the "some of my best friends are black" line that was common at the same time.......

    As susual, some of you are stretching to try to make a female entertainer into a gay "icon" by exaggerating the extent of her supportiveness of gay people, just as you often gloss over much more supportive actions and statements when they come from straight men.

    Posted by: Rick | Aug 6, 2011 12:24:12 PM

  8. I hated it when my my mom squeezed the chocolates to see if which were hard and which were soft.

    Posted by: sylvatica | Aug 6, 2011 12:28:57 PM

  9. Lucy was famously a Republican through and through. I had enjoyed her comedy growing up but became very turned off to her as I continued to read her arch-conservative political comments. No fan here.

    Posted by: stick | Aug 6, 2011 1:27:04 PM

  10. Rick,

    Relax. This interview is a single example of how she may have supported gay rights. Did you even read the whole post? Andrew said "I've stumbled upon a 1980 interview Ball did with People", not "I've searched the entire internet and found only one mention of Lucille Ball's support for gay rights."

    It seems as if you're only searching for examples of false or inadequate gay rights support in some cynical crusade. It's unnecessary. It was 1980, not 2011. Yes, her support meant something, and it was real.

    Posted by: Jake Orlando | Aug 6, 2011 1:39:20 PM

  11. How ironic that Lucy's husband, Desi Arnaz, was bisexual. "Batman" co-star Cesar Romero confirmed having a brief affair with him before he died, and he stated that wasn't the only time Desi had male lovers. This is not to cast doubt on his reputation as a womanizer: He definitely chased girls. But there was more to Ricky Ricardo than met the eye. His autobiography, A Book, is one of the best show-business bios ever written.

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Aug 6, 2011 4:12:30 PM

  12. What is this, Soros' media matters propaganda, don't you know he is out to destroy America and our way of life.

    Posted by: dt | Aug 6, 2011 4:16:00 PM

  13. Lucy was mostly apolitical, but she hated Nixon before it was even vogue. To call her a Republican and "arch-conservative" is ignorant and dead wrong. She did hang out with John Wayne and some other staunch Republican actors and was a fan of Ronald Reagan, but that wasn't because he was a conservative. I'm sure she was very careful after facing investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

    Her words regarding gay rights were, indeed, bold for their time. Someone mentioned Anita Bryant, but Anita was the toast of the country in 1980 and was very successful in her endeavors in Miami/Dade County and elsewhere. Lucy was courageous saying what she did, and just try to find other major celebrities willing to step out on the limb with remarks like hers.

    For the record, I am a Republican and have attended two national "We Love Lucy" conventions, where I have never met more gay men.

    Posted by: LincolnLounger | Aug 6, 2011 7:27:00 PM

  14. As for someone's assertion that Desi Arnaz was bisexual, the "source" seems to be those scurrilous (but sometimes entertaining) Hollywood Babylon books. In the latest, one of the authors says that Desi allowed Cesar to give him a one-time-only blow job. If I recall, Cesar made it clear that it was an exception to Desi's well-imprinted rule of thumb.

    Posted by: LincolnLounger | Aug 6, 2011 8:37:59 PM

  15. I'm going to keep this simple - thanks Lucy for the laughter. You have and will always be missed,

    Posted by: Jeff | Aug 6, 2011 8:59:42 PM


    Posted by: THE QUEEN | Aug 6, 2011 9:31:52 PM

  17. According to wikipedia, Lucille Ball first registered to vote as a Communist in 1936. She did so again 1938. She later stated that this was at the urging of her socialist grandfather.

    In 1944, she was seen in a film reel at a fundraiser for the re-election of Roosevelt.

    And she later stated that she voted for Republican Eisenhower in 1952. It's worth noting that the Eisenhower won the campaign for POTUS in a landslide and that he proposed and signed into law the first major civil rights act since 1875.

    Lucille Ball seems to have been an independent thinker when it came to politics--something that seems to fit with her personality overall.

    Posted by: peterparker | Aug 7, 2011 12:11:37 AM

  18. When a retired (bored) Lucy heard that Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin were great fans and wanted to meet her in early 80s- she agreed to meet for a lunch date. Bette & Lily were thrilled. Not sure if Lucy ever came around to Lily's character-driven politically left comedy -- but she was nice enough to shoot the breeze with the ladies.

    Posted by: Bertie | Aug 7, 2011 1:27:02 AM

  19. Lucy loved Bette but was shocked by her bawdiness. She thought it was great that she could get away with it, though.

    She stated plainly that she was not a fan of Lily Tomlin's comedy. She said (and I am closely and accurately paraphrasing) that she found herself studying it rather than enjoying it.

    Posted by: LincolnLounger | Aug 7, 2011 3:10:10 PM

  20. Andy's post was apropos since the ubiquitous Google was paying homage to Lucille Ball. In other words, Andy Towle was referencing what was newsworthy, which is part of good journalism. Having said that, Rick is right to criticize the lamentable tendency of some gay men to idolize straight women when straight men, especially in the younger generations, are often even more effective at destroying anti-gay hate. I can imagine the men in the Pentagon, and in the military rank and file, laughing at Elaine Donnelly at this very moment.

    Posted by: Artie Rimbaud | Aug 7, 2011 10:16:38 PM

  21. I have enjoyed Ms. Lucy Balls movies ans T.V. shows all my life . I just love Her. It was no surprise to me She would stand by all of us Gay Woman and Men ! Thank you Lucy

    Posted by: felix ekstrom | Aug 8, 2011 8:20:23 AM

  22. If youre the type of female who loves to keep herself in fantastic shape(botanical slimming tablets), youll know-how uncomfortable a wobbly fitting bra is usually

    Posted by: 2daydiet | Nov 23, 2011 2:58:49 AM

  23. Verses against Homosexuality:

    "If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination." (Leviticus 20:13).

    "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination. Nor shall you mate with any animal, to defile yourself with it. Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is perversion. ‘Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you." (Leviticus 18:22-24).

    "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." (Romans 1:26-27).

    Lucille Ball is my all time favorite actress. But I do not agree with her on this. Homosexuality is wrong. I love homosexuals just as much as I love any other sinner, but I hate their sin. I am not ashamed to say that it is an abomination and if America continues to promote it, we will be judged like sodom and gomorah.

    Posted by: Jessica | Sep 22, 2012 1:16:55 PM

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