for her protection

Rosie O’Donnell Reveals How Cosmo Editor Kept Her From Coming Out In 1992

vibe-rosie-odonnell-drakeRosie O’Donnell made national news when she came out publicly in 2002, but it turns out she had planned to do it ten years earlier.

The talk show host/Harriet The Spy actress spoke with Marlo Thomas about how the landscape has changed for gays and lesbians over the past few decades, and shared this story from the early ’90s of coming out in an interview she gave to Cosmopolitan:

“At that time, nobody printed it. I remember [Editor-in-Chief] Helen Gurley Brown took it out of an interview that [a reporter] had done with me in, like, 1992. He said, ‘Are you gay?’ and I said, ‘Yes.’ She took it out … She was protecting me because at that time it would’ve been a huge issue, right? So, I think it’s changed a lot. I think it’s much more common and people are much more used to it. Being a part of a gay family was not nearly as troubling to my kids as being part of a famous family.”

Was Brown justified in trying to protect the star’s career? Should Rosie have spoken out years ago against being silenced?

H/t: HuffPo

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  • robirob

    I find it difficult to believe that Mrs. Brown acted on her own. I’d rather believe that Rosie’s management or talent agency heard about it and told Brown to not publish Rosie’s coming out statement.

  • redcarpet

    *sigh* Ya know, my first reaction is HOW DARE SHE, but…It was 1992 and it really would have been career suicide. Just look how tough it was for Ellen and that was 5 years later. Hell, even in 2002 it still made waves.

    It’s easy to be judgmental about how things were in the past, but it’s really just the sad reality of how things were. And sometimes still are.

  • tardis

    It was 1992. Even though it wasn’t that long ago, it was a different time.

  • middleagespread

    I met Rosie in 1995 @ the AIDS walk in Miami. She was funny and very gracious. I still have the autographed t-shirt she signed. No doubt back then that she was one of us. Also, Cindy Crawford was there as host of the event. I swear u could put both of ur hands around her waist. She was so thin and gorgeous!!

  • Will L

    redcarpet and tardis are right. There wasn’t as much support in 1992. Or maybe I should say that there weren’t as many people willing to *show* support then.


    Well that explains the Tom Cruise thing not at all

  • Arkansassy

    Too bad she didn’t have a TV show or some other access to the media so she could have come out sooner than 2002.

  • Dakotahgeo

    Good Grief… 22 years ago, it would have meant losing her job and I believe that, with no malice, the management of Cosmo did the right thing and Rosie was spared a lot of flack in her career. Now… it seems ine. People don’t care… except for the wea-minded.

  • Kangol

    I believe it. 1992 was still rough waters for LGBT people. The HIV cocktail hadn’t yet appeared, H W Bush was still president, the [email protected] backlash was still in full swing.

    It was just a year after the landmark gay same-sex kiss on LA Law (1991) and a few years before the same-sex kiss on Roseanne (1994), and sevearl years before Ellen came out on her show in 1997. I can still remember don’t forget what she endured because of that.

    We’ve come a long way, though we still have a long way to go. Rosie’s telling the truth.

  • LadyL

    I guess I’m in agreement with most people here–it’s troubling, but then again it was a much less accepting era and Brown’s motives may have been relatively pure.
    And Rosie herself was more ambivalent about it than she’s letting on. According to Kate Clinton, during the run of her talk show Rosie was very afraid of the consequences of coming out and couldn’t be talked into opening the door even a crack.
    When Ellen came out and appeared on her show, reportedly Rosie “hated” having to talk about it because it was a reminder of what she herself couldn’t/wouldn’t do and because she was afraid of the “queer by association” syndrome.

  • Tackle

    I don’t know what to believe about this story. As someone above pointed out, it could have been Rosie’s mgt or agent who asked Brown not to run the story, or it could have been Brown herself, as Rosie stated. But I’m just not sure I’m agreeing that Brown just wanting to protect Rosie. I’m more inclined to believe that Brown felt that the subject matter was NOT appropriate for the magazine at that time.

  • BJ McFrisky

    Newsflash, Rosie: It was 1992. There were forms of media beyond magazine articles, and you could have come out any time you wanted, in any way—specifically, you could have spoken up on your TV show instead of fabricating a phony crush on Tom Cruise. Ms. Gurley-Brown did not keep you in the closet.

  • tdx3fan

    Lets be honest about the real reason that Ellen got the backlash that she did… it was because she did not just come out, she threw the door open and shoved everyone’s face inside her closest. If she would have done it in a more quiet way, such as giving an interview to a magazine that a select group of people read (such as Cosmo) it would have gone much better for her. Sure, 1992 was a very different time, but it was not 1969. I have no hard feelings towards Rosie, but maybe some kids would have been helped during 1992 if they had more allies.

  • Cam

    I don’t believe her. Why?

    1. Because there were no Cosmo editors on her show when she continually pretended to be in love with Tom Cruise.

    2. There were no Cosmo editors forcing her to attack Howard Stern when he made a comment about O’Donnell bringing her girlfriend to an event but forcing her to sit at a different table so they weren’t photographed together.

    3. There was no Cosmo editor in every interview where O’Donnell pretended to be a supermom-single mother raising all her adopted children and not telling the truth that she had a girlfriend at home.

    4. There was no Cosmo editor when O’Donnell ignored and tried to dismiss lesbian protesters outside her show because she continually talked about men she was attracted to on the air etc…

    O’Donnell has simply realized that Ellen is seen as courageous and people love her and O’Donell is seen as a pandering coward and not getting the respect of the community so once again she is trying to rewrite truth to help her brand.

  • Cam

    @krystalkleer: said…

    “@Cam: ummm YEA…cuz YOU WERE THERE? get real…get the facts!


    I love these people that won’t list out what their supposed defense is, but instead make an idiotic comment.

    And as for “Being there”. Um, I hate to tell you, but a ton of people WERE there, and all saw her lie and pretend that she was in love with Cruise, and claim to be a single mom raising her kids, and show up “Alone” to awards shows only to have it exposed later that her girlfriend was there but being put at different tables etc..

    So gee, I guess we all were there. Sorry that Ellen was courageous and Rosie wasn’t and now is trying to rewrite history.

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