In the pantheon on gay icons, there are a few that sit a wee bit higher atop the great gay Mount Olympus. Your Chers, Barbras, certain idols for whom there is a reverence that contemporary stars can only aspire to.
Liza Minnelli is one of those idols.
“I think probably Barbra and maybe even Cher and myself in school felt like outcasts because we didn’t have standard looks,” Minnelli told Newsweek in 2006. “Maybe what a gay icon is, is a person who is rooted for — in other words, cheered on — by people who feel different.”
The daughter of fellow beloved icon Judy Garland, Liza’s distinctive features, oversized stage persona and personal struggles have endeared her to the gay community for decades. Whether she was battling addiction, overcoming debilitating encephalitis or having her love life splashed across the tabloids, Liza’s persevered with the kind of resilience and old-school showbiz style that’s made her a legend.
Through it all, she’s also been an outspoken advocate of the LGBT community, particularly around HIV/AIDS awareness. She’s done lots of work with amfAR, which she told Palm Springs Life magazine is so important to her, “because I’ve lost so many friends that I knew [to AIDS].” She even told Broadwayworld.com in 2006 that she was the one who first told amfAR co-founder Elizabeth Taylor about HIV/AIDS.
“I invited Rock Hudson to a concert with Elizabeth Taylor. I hadn't seen him in a long time. When I saw him he looked different. I thought that he looked like just a couple of friends that I had seen lately in New York, who had this new disease. I said to Elizabeth,’There is something called AIDS, and I don't know, but I think Rock may have it.’ She said, ‘He looks ghastly, what is it?’ I explained it to her as much as I knew. She said, ‘We have to do something. She stood up and said, ‘This is out of the question that people are being treated like this.’”
Get the dizzies over some of our favorite Minnelli moments, AFTER THE JUMP …