Gay Iconography: Thank You, ‘Golden Girls,’ For Being A Friend


It was more than 20 years before the Supreme Court weighed in on DOMA and Prop. 8 when The Golden Girls offered up this perfect case for marriage equality in the 1991 episode titled, "Sister of the Bride."



Later in that episode, Blanche's brother Clayton tells the women that he and and his partner Doug would "bend over backwards" for one another. It's a set-up just begging for one of the ladies' signature zingers.



When Rose puts together a talk show about women who live together, she invites Blanche and Dorothy to be guests. The only problem is that Rose didn't realize the producers were looking for lesbians.



While being mistaken for lesbians was sort of the butt of the joke in the last clip, in this video, Blanche is jealous that Dorothy's female friend has a crush on Rose and not her.



Considering the LGBT community is constantly evolving its own terminology to accommodate different identities, there's something almost elegant about Sophia's understanding of the terms "gay" and "queer" when referring to her cross-dressing son.

What were your favorite The Golden Girls moments? Tell us in the comments!


  1. Derrick from Philly says

    Boy, does the “Golden Girls” bring back a special memory (kinda’ erotic too).

    It was Gay Pride Weekend 1999. I met this beautiful guy at the Starlight Lounge in Brooklyn. We walked home to his apartment. I had a wonderful time. He had the most round juicy butt…well. We watched “Golden Girl” episodes in between sex.

    Anyway, he was part of the NYC Municipal Employees Brigrade in the Pride Parade that last Sunday morning in June.

    I had a good time, and he let me take a shower at his apartment. That was necessary because as usual that Pride Sunday turned incredibly hot and humid early in the day.

    Anyway, I had a good time.

    His birthday was less than a week later. I called to give birthday greetings and mailed a card–hoping there was a chance we would see each other again. When I called he could barely remember who I was. LOL

    But I had good time early that morning with him and “Golden Girls.”

  2. graphicjack says

    You forgot Dorothy’s lesbian (not Lebanese, Blanche) friend who fell in love with Rose. This show was the best, but ultimately, it was about the comedy. For once I agree with your choice. Yes, the Golden Girls ARE gay icons.

  3. anon says

    Yeah, the Coco character never made any sense. These women were supposedly living together because they couldn’t afford to live on their own. How could they afford a “house boy”?

  4. rebarb says

    Love this show! My partner and I watch it all the time..there are back to back episodes broadcast on the Hallmark Chanel late at night. I really liked the episode when Blanche’s brother Clayton brings his partner with him to stay w/ the girls. Poignant and real.

  5. Derrick from Philly says

    Thanks for reminding me ,REBARB. The reason we were watching old at 5:00am in morning of “Golden Girls” episodes was because there was a marathon of the episodes on the Hallmark Network.

    I bet he got fat. I don’t care.

  6. Stephen in Laguna says

    Not too terribly long after 9/11 The Onion had a faux TV listing on their site. ABC, NBC, CBS, etc all had listings for shows like “Remembering”, “What Really Happened”, “The Survivors” and what not (You know, just like the real shows we watched for 2 months) and then under Lifetime Network, all across the grid – Golden Girls … Golden Girls … Golden Girls … Golden Girls … Golden Girls … Golden Girls …

    Peed my pants.

  7. Brian W. says

    I think it’s generational. I was born in the 80s, and although I remember my mom watching Golden Girls it was never a show I followed closely.

  8. PapaBear says

    The Golden Girls are on television every night at our house. We know the dialogue by heart. It never gets old. There will never be another show that can measure up to The Golden Girls.

  9. Mags says

    Great story @Derrick from Philly, Keep them coming. I love it when you mix in comedy and sex nostalgia!

    The Golden Girls were a lot more than just older women getting together under strenuous circumstances, it was about strong women who even when left penniless by their cheating husbands, fought hard to make their way on their own, are in charge of their sexuality, and thrive to treat all God’s creatures with love and acceptance.

    The Golden Girls were Feminist as well. They made fun of Blanche’s slattern ways but at the same time fought for her right to be free and inhibited in her sexuality. They were accepting and most of all, they showed what true Christianity was about, which was showing empathy and helping those most in need, like that teenage girl who got pregnant and her father kicked her out of the house. So many examples where women pulled for one another, and how you can create your own family where it holds true whatever the circumstances: Supporting you loving you no matter what you do, and no matter what happens to you.

  10. will says

    This series has really blurred the lines. I don’t know WHAT a gay icon is anymore. I think it just means “favorite” — entertainers a majority of gay men like in any era. That means Judy is an icon, Barbra is an icon, Donna Summer is, Madonna is, Lady Gaga will be. Kathy Griffin. Megan Mullally (Karen on W&G) and Beyonce and Miley Cyrus will be in 15 years. Of course Barack Obama will become one to future gays.

  11. Frances Birnie says

    When Golden Girls first started on t.v. I wasn’t interested in even trying to watch the show. Now if I have the chance, everything else stops, and I sit down to watch. The thing that upset me the most, was the Oscars the year that Bea Arthur died. They can’t do it over but I was royally pissed when they “didn’t mention her name for the In Memorium”. She had been such a groundbreaker while in “All in The Family” “Maude” when they broached the subject of birth control, homosexuality and abortion. What fantastic women, all 4 of them.

  12. cdubois says

    I remember making fun of my sister for watching golden girls for years! Finally when i was 17 and she was moved out on her own she forced me to watch when I went to her apartment, I remember being shocked by how many laugh out loud moments there were. I became addicted from then on! Cut to a few months later, I went to the bookstore to secretly check out the gay section, imagine my surprise when I looked at the section signs and saw that a picture of the golden below a rainbow was the gay and lesbian section lol. I remember feeling like I finally found my place in the world! That was when I found out the Golden Girls was part of the gay iconography. From then on I have been a die hard fan, i still laugh out loud even though i know all the lines. such a special memory… especially as I’m about to turn 30 BOOOO. Oh and graphicjack, “Rose find out Danny Thomas is a lesbian it will break her heart!” Ha one of my fave scenes!!!

  13. Barnes says

    I watched the Golden Girls entire run the first time around, and while I loved the show, I just don’t get its particular appeal for some gay men.

  14. macguffin54 says

    I can recite most jokes of this show as I watch them. Some people here claim to be “above” the show, but I can’t imagine anyone watching the show (the first 5 season, mainly) and not laughing, at least occasionally. I don’t think gays love this show for any reason other than it is funny (FUNNY!) The fact that it has strong females, a marginalized minority (single, elderly women) and an occasional propensity for gay humor (that really started season 4-ish) is just icing on the cake. The fact that the humor is mostly sarcastic helps, too.

  15. says

    SO MUCH YES. “Golden Girls” was a godsend for a young gay kid growing up in the 80s. Getting four great, funny ladies together on one fantastic show was like catching lightning in a bottle. I’m sorry that Rue McClanahan, Bea Arthur, and Estelle Getty are no longer with us, but I’m thankful we still have the amazing Betty White. The world is a sadder and less funny place without them. “Sex And The City” and “Girls” owe a debt to them – without “Golden Girls”, they would have never existed.

  16. pete n sfo says

    Sure, some of the episodes are a little corny… but I always feel lucky & stop what I’m doing to watch’em. :)

    Their constructed family & the love & support definitely resonates with this 50+ yr old gay. At the time it originally aired I even thought they were older… now, not so much. 😉

  17. Tyler says

    Derrick From Philly – I feel sorta sad for you. It’s not just that you spent your life having sex with people who don’t love you, don’t care about you and who don’t even remember you a week later, it’s the fact that you think so little of yourself that you tell stories about these encounters as if they are something to be proud of. Sort of like how a retarded kid might wipe poop on himself and then wait for applause.

    Don’t know how old you are now but I’m thinking that you are less in demand at the Starlight lounge these days. Your old tricks used you as a friction device. Since you are now saggy and old, they won’t be coming around. Well, at least you have shallow memories and a retroviral infection to keep you company.

  18. Mags says

    @TYLER, You really did not need to be so despicably mean-spirited and shameful. My first reaction was disgust for your obvious bully attempts, but then it turned to pity.

    To waste so much space sprouting hatred for someone, who I might add you probably do not know, simply because he opted to share a personal and funny story, is just testament to the abomination and bitterness that is your own existence.

  19. MIke says

    I have the entire series on DVD, every one, and still tune to Halmark at 11 pm for a couple shows every night before bed.

    Blanche to fey wedding designer: “You’re just ready to fly around here, aren’t you?”

    “Well EXCUSE ME Anita Bryant!”

  20. MIke says

    BTW, if “Golden Girls” is the American gay iconograph, then surely AbFab is the British.

    Serge: “I just want you to know your son, a gay man, can be boring.”
    Edina: “Serge, being gay is the best reason you have for NOT being boring.”

  21. Tyler says

    Mags, it wasn’t a funny story. It was a sad story. When he tells a story like that, he is subtly trying to convey to other gay people that this is a good way to live your life, that this is just how it’s done.

    Well it was never charming or good. It has been a catastrophe for all of us. We can’t and shouldn’t force gay people to prefer love and connection over cold, loveless sexual encounters with strangers. But I’ll be damned if I sit silently while a troll like Derrick tries to recast his loveless, exploitative sex life as something positive.

  22. Mags says

    Dude, you’re taking this waay out of hand!

    What does casual sex between consenting adults have anything to do with leading a loveless and exploitative sex life??!

    It’s the 21st Century, sex is not sin, especially between consenting adults, and having casual sex does in no way guarantee you a loveless life.

    Just as within the confines of monogamous matrimony does not guarantee you a life full of love and good sex!

    I found that guy from Philly’s story charming, but certainly nothing to lose any sleep over. You’re over-the-top reaction however is worrisome and a bit too close to bible-thumping.

    Control your own outcome in life, and lead your own sexuality as you morally see befit.

    By your extreme prejudice, nothing to say of brutish bullying, in regards to others’ views on sexuality, you are definitely not engaging young gay men to your POV. That much hate towards some stranger’s consensual sex life is a turn-off.

  23. antisaint says

    I got into GG freshman year of high school (’96-’97), and had my first high school crush shortly after. Years after high school we reconnected and were able to confirm with one another that were both gay (and both eachother’s crushes) but my first clue that he might have been was his mentioning how much he loved Golden Girls. There weren’t many (straight) guys who did.

  24. Matt27 says

    I love GG! All the girls are my favorite. I watch them daily. Well written, excellent acting. And I love how in real life they strongly supported lgbt issues!

  25. ThomT says

    “The Golden Girls” still run daily on various cable channels. Every time the Hallmark Channel tries to replace them they are overwhelmed with complaints from those of us who need that daily dose of these four wonderful ladies. I know every episode by heart – as soon as Sophia comes through that kitchen door and speaks her first line I know the storyline and nearly all of the dialogue that will follow and yet I continue to watch the full episode. And to “Little Kiwi” – how sad that you have nothing better to do then to wait for people you don’t even know to die off – although I would imagine that there are plenty of people waiting your demise.

  26. Robert in SF says

    I enjoyed The Golden Girls during its first run, during my freshman year at college…but I made the mistake of leaving the informal dorm hallway meet up by mentioning that it was 8:00 PM and I was gonna go watch TGG…well, one of the guys next to me said, “Why would you wanna watch a show about old women talking about sex?!”…

    So I immediately pivoted somehow on my opinion and feigned disinterest in the show outwardly from there on out… I wasn’t out to myself, much less brave enough to stand apart from the other guys in the dorm. That was a tough time for me….but anyway, I didn’t watch after that for some time, scared it would somehow reveal I was gay.

    I tend to think that gay men (generally speaking, yes) tend to like biting, sarcastic humor…and that’s certainly a lot of the TGG humor.

  27. Tyler says

    For the record, the Tyler that has been posting on this thread (as well as the single post from LittleKiwi that followed the first Tyler comment) were not written by me, the REAL Tyler or the REAL LittleKiwi.

    Our resident troll has been posting horrible comments under my name because I him out on his horrible behavior on a regular basis. Sorry if you were offended by his comments and I’m sorry Towleroad continues to utilize a comment system that allows for the stealing of other user’s identities to wreck their reputation.

  28. Georgie says

    Reading thru these comments and I agree with Tyler – the first Tyler. It is his right to comment bc Derrick chose to share that story with everyone. And there’s 45 years worth of social science data that shows that living a life of casual or anonymous hookups is very likely to lead to a whole range of mental, emotional and physical health problems. Guaranteed? No. But very likely? Absolutely. F**k Derrick and anyone else who pushes that sh*t onto gay and bi boys like it’s some kind of funny joke. They deserve better.

  29. says

    I’m happy so many found this show affirming and entertaining. I, however, am gay and did not. I find so much in blogs about ‘gays’ liking this or that. We as a group complain about being stereotypes, but we do a lot to support those stereotypes. I like Barbara but not Madonna. I don’t brunch and find sassy a turn off. I like musicals and sports. We are a diverse group, but you’d never know it.

  30. Derrick from Philly says

    I know who the real Tyler is, and I always appreciate your postings and your corrections to the dishonest posts of crazy azz Rick.

    Hey, Tyler, atleast we stick to our original positng names. Rick uses so many aliases that’s it’s bizarre. And then he tells me that I am sad. Maybe so, but I don’t preach hate.

    And MAGS thanks for your comment. I love that memory of the “Golden Girls,” and the young man from the Starlight Lounge.

  31. says

    Only a curmudgeon wouldn’t love this show. The storylines were, and remain, rather hilarious and the ensemble will go down in TV history as one of the finest ever assembled. Moving, funny, and always with its heart in the right place. Thank God for reruns, these girls will be golden forever.

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