Gay Iconography | Kathy Griffin

Gay Iconography: Do You Love Or Loathe Kathy Griffin?


The phrase "gay icon" gets tossed around a lot, but why is it that some figures amass more of a gay audience? Welcome to Gay Iconography, a feature where we present a proposed iconic figure or character and then ask you to weigh in with your thoughts. 

While one could call many (or even most) of the gay icons we've discussed "divisive," few inspire the same kind of love or hate response as Kathy Griffin. The sitcom, reality and stand-up comedy star has been a vocal supporter of LGBT issues and her outspoken, celebrity-heavy routine has been embraced by (many in) the gay community.

Though bawdy and brassy is right up some folks' alleys, Griffins' loudmouth persona rubs some folks the wrong way. Her caustic Hollywood takedowns may be beloved by the Bravo-set, it's earned her a fair share of detractors, as well. 

Have a laugh with some classic Kathy moments (or proceed directly to the comment to vent your disdain), AFTER THE JUMP …

Most people were first introduced to Griffin as the character Vickie on Suddenly Susan in 1996. She amassed television credits on shows like Seinfeld and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Her gay audience, however, was growing in her club performances. She told HuffPo Live last year: "I started doing the gay clubs and getting a better response [to my act]. I find that gay audiences are more raucous, somewhat political and knowledgable."


After working in the industry for years, Griffin found success with Bravo's My Life On the D-List. Named after one of her comedy specials, the show chronicled Griffin's life as a self-described sub-C-List celeb. Her self-deprecating humor only further endeared her to gay audiences. "Certainly what that show was about was being in the Hollywood community but still being an outsider … " she said in an interivew with MetroWeekly in 2012. "So I feel that's something the LGBT community and I have in common."


My Life On the D-List was a ratings and critical success. All six seasons were nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Reality Program. The show won the award in 2007 and 2008. In true Griffin fashion, her acceptance speech, above, ruffled feathers with its infamous "Suck it, Jesus!" line. Griffin has also earned six Grammy nominations (including one win) for her comedy albums.


Griffin holds the record for the most comedy specials for one network with 2013's Calm Down Gurrl marking her sixteenth for Bravo. She's also the first comedian to have four television specials in a year. Paula Abdul, Justin Bieber and (especially) Ryan Seacrest have all been skewered in her act.



Griffin doesn't only use "her gays" as a punchline. She's spoken out for marriage equality, supported Aid for AIDS and organized a rally in 2010 to encourage the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell (which drew criticism from some). "As a woman and a feminist, I very much admire the way the LGBT community sticks together," she said.

Where do you land? Are you on Team Griffin, or do you wish not to be counted among her gays? Let us know in the comments.

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  1. I love her. However I think she was funnier a couple of years ago. she lost her touch a bit!

    Posted by: Phil | Feb 8, 2014 2:35:36 PM

  2. with kathy, it was love at first sight, and she's gotten only better with age. few work harder, she has a huge heart, and deserves every ounce of success - she's earned it.

    Posted by: northalabama | Feb 8, 2014 2:35:54 PM

  3. Love.

    Posted by: FFS | Feb 8, 2014 2:38:56 PM

  4. Love...but in small doses.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Feb 8, 2014 2:41:16 PM

  5. Please, Towleroad, don't start using even more link-bait headlines like "Do you...", "Why..." and so on. What's next "Upworthy-style" headlines?

    I mean, dear God, this week you already posted stories from the National Enquirer.

    Posted by: Eric | Feb 8, 2014 2:46:27 PM

  6. Love her.
    I don't know half of the celebrities she talks about because I'm not american, but she's a just a really funny gal. I love the way she tells her stories, and yes: I agree that the 3-4 specials after Allegedly are her best.

    Posted by: topher | Feb 8, 2014 2:48:08 PM

  7. LOVE HER !!

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 8, 2014 2:51:12 PM

  8. Like most underdogs that become accepted within the entertainment community, Kathy has transformed from someone I'd cheer for to someone I can't stand. Her comedy seems false given her own desire to fit in to the establishment she took apart.

    Posted by: JAMES B. | Feb 8, 2014 2:53:46 PM

  9. Forget Kathy... it's ANderson Cooper that makes my stomach turn. That giggle kills my soul a little every time he does it.

    Posted by: jack | Feb 8, 2014 2:56:59 PM

  10. I don't know whether I love or loathe Kathy Griffin. I do know that I DON’T love BOBBY HANKINSON and his many gay iconography posts.

    Posted by: Andy Towlette | Feb 8, 2014 2:58:20 PM

  11. Smart and quick woman that knows the business and doesn't apologize for it.
    Funny and no-hold back on all matters.
    Her and Joan Rivers clearly continue to work hard to make it in the stand-up business.

    Posted by: Matteo | Feb 8, 2014 3:02:32 PM

  12. Love. And I also really love that the comments here (so far) aren't the hatefest I was afraid of encountering when I clicked through.

    Posted by: CC | Feb 8, 2014 3:09:21 PM

  13. There are moments on TV when I love her and laugh along with the rest. There are moments when I don't love her at all. Those moments make me a little sad for her and they usually include the low, cheap shot or the times that someone tries to be her friend (or family) and then becomes grist for her act later. (The Maggie stuff is getting old.)

    And then there's the surgeries (which I hope she's stopped, lest she become Joan Rivers 2.0)


    Name me ANY other female comedian who has gone over and entertained our troops during a war in the last decade. She's a hero for that alone.

    As was pointed out, she is also an outspoken ally to all causes gay and deserves a place of honor for it.

    And, on some days, she's downright hilarious and I keep coming back, despite the cringe-worthy moments. I hope she can figure out a new angle or new type of material for her act because once you are an A-lister, you can't pretend otherwise, even if that show is over. Sad her talk show did not last a lot longer than it did because I was hoping that would be a new path into another type of entertainment for her. She'll figure it out eventually, she's nothing if not smart.

    Posted by: johnny | Feb 8, 2014 3:14:38 PM

  14. I can't get enough of her personally.

    Posted by: Bernard | Feb 8, 2014 3:17:32 PM

  15. Wow, I'm really sorry that some commenters are forced to read articles they don't like. Must be tough.

    Posted by: Paul R | Feb 8, 2014 3:18:13 PM

  16. She's funny. She's talented: Emmy, Grammy, with multiple nominations and wins. Her humor may not be yours (there are lots of comics I don't like or listen to), but she's kept her following for years.

    Now, let the hating begin. . . . .

    Posted by: Christopher | Feb 8, 2014 3:28:50 PM

  17. Used to love her, then overdosed, had to cut back and enjoy her in small doses, now I don't loathe her but avoid her. The voice is like fingernails on a blackboard. I don't think she's changed, I have. I have the same reaction today to Joan Rivers. I don't find meanness as funny as I used to I guess.

    Posted by: Andrew | Feb 8, 2014 3:30:36 PM

  18. You have to love someone who's so supportive of the gay community.

    Posted by: Richard | Feb 8, 2014 3:33:03 PM

  19. love. duh.

    Posted by: jaker | Feb 8, 2014 3:45:33 PM

  20. She's a hoot and and an ally, and like all good gadflies, she's sufficiently obnoxious that there are times I think she's the funniest thing ever and sometimes I think she's completely off the mark and insulting. Wouldn't change a think about her.

    Icon, though? No.

    Celebrity and name and face recognition are different from iconic status. And, given the state of both the gay community and the celebrity machine these days, I think icons are going to be pretty thin on the ground going forward.

    Posted by: Lymis | Feb 8, 2014 3:52:17 PM

  21. Can't stand her. I've really tried, but I just can't do it. I appreciate her support of the community, but she always seems to be very mean spirited.

    Posted by: WildGift | Feb 8, 2014 4:01:21 PM

  22. love her

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 8, 2014 4:04:58 PM

  23. Love her.

    Posted by: Dattexas | Feb 8, 2014 4:10:01 PM

  24. Love her. And she's a genuine supporter of the gay community.

    Doing her brand of stand-up is one of the hardest thing in the world to pull of. it's just her up there alone. No props. Nothing.
    And she delivers. "Celebrity" pretensions may seem like an easy topic but she manages to extend the metaphor though politics. She does not suffer phonies lightly.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 8, 2014 4:14:31 PM

  25. LOVE. Not as much as Joan Rivers, though.

    Posted by: Learjet | Feb 8, 2014 4:16:53 PM

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