Loud Mouth

Judy Gold remembers Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers had a big mouth. She attributed her success to “saying what everyone else is thinking.” But she did a hell of a lot more than that.

For the past week, we have read so much about Joan. There have been tributes galore. There have been love letters, and there have been lots of personal stories. Stories about her kindness, generosity, integrity, thoughtfulness, humor, strength, struggles, fearlessness—and of course, her big fat mouth.

We, in the LGBT community lost a lot more than a friend and ally last week. We lost a voice—an important one, and a very loud one.

The last time Joan and I spent time together was in July in Provincetown.  She was at the top of her game, and had just completed a flawless hour-long set. The audience couldn’t get enough of her. And me? Well, I was in heaven. There wasn’t an unfunny moment all night, and when she was done, the audience went crazy. Oh, how she cherished her gay fans.

Joan and I hung out in her dressing room, in between shows. We talked and talked about life and death. She was incredibly wise, and I was incredibly grateful to know her. She took nothing for granted, and she never shied away from standing up for the things she felt most passionate about. She was outspoken about the AIDS crisis from the very beginning. She worked for God’s Love We Deliver for decades, and she delivered the food herself—dressed to the nines. And when she won Celebrity Apprentice, the $500,000 prize went to GLWD. During her talk show in the ’90s, she had many prominent gays on as guests. She loved drag queens. She officiated at same-sex weddings, and she had the NYC Gay Men’s Chorus open her memorial.

She was a pioneer when it came to equality. Why? Because she knew what it felt like to be an outsider. Everyone in our community is more than a little cognizant of what it’s like not to fit in.  Many outsiders choose not to draw attention to themselves, to just keep quiet and sweep it under the rug. Well, we all know how destructive that is.

Martin Luther King once said: “In the end, we will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

Thank you, friend. We will always remember your really big mouth.

What Do You Think?