Betty White Proved “Being From a Different Generation” Is Not an Excuse

by Sabine Waldeck
January 20th, 2022

Betty White sadly passed away on December 31, 2021. The legacy that White leaves behind is not only one of outstanding acting but also of allyship to the LGBTQ+ community.

Photo By: Gus Ruelas, Reuters

If you were not already aware, Betty White has been a gay-icon for years, despite not being a part of the community. This acceptance by the LGBTQ+ community is not random. One day the girls, gays, and theys did not host a meeting in which they decided that Betty White would be their newest obsession. Betty White earned her place into the LGBTQ+ community stardom based on her continued allyship.

To take it back to the beginning; in Whites hit show Golden Girls there were many queer characters that were featured throughout the years. In an episode titled “Isn’t It Romantic.” that aired in 1986, one of Dorthy’s friends Jean has a crush on Rose. This episode does not criticize Jean or mock her, and in the 1980s, where there was a lot of propaganda surrounding the gay community, that was not commonplace.

White has spoken up about her support for gay marriage since 2010, saying that same-sex couples should have the right to marry, which was a big debate at the time. 2010 may not seem long enough ago to make that sort of claim at that time to make for big a deal, but for context Joe Biden, our president, did not publicly support same-sex marriage until 2012.

Speaking up is one thing, but we all know actions speak louder than words. While many celebrities gush on with empty words and no actions for allyship, White took her beliefs off paper and into reality. In 2013 White changed her name temporarily to Betty Purple on Spirit Day, a day to bring awareness to the bullying LGBTQ+ people face. She did a promotional video with GLAAD (a media group that focuses on proper representation of the LGBTQ+ community) next to her Hot in Cleveland co-stars.

One Whites most famous quotes among the LGBTQ+ community is “I don’t care whom you sleep with… it is what type of a human being you are.” She said this in an interview with Larry King.

Many use age as an excuse for their homophobia, saying they are “from a different generation.” White was an example that being older and raised in a different time does not excuse or permiss homophobic remarks or actions. Her passing is felt throughout the queer community, but her impact and what she represented will never leave.