Why Bette Midler is a Gay Icon
Perhaps Bette Midler is a gay icon because of her bold and brassy approach. Maybe she mirrors a life of bursting out of the closet (or wanting to) for some gay men.
Others may identify with the obstacles she has overcome in her career.
Regardless, Bette Midler has been embraced by the gay community since she came onto the scene singing in gay baths in the 1970s.
I first saw Bette Midler perform live in 1982. I wasn’t yet out of the closet, but seeing men in the audience holding hands and embracing—like any “normal” couple—gave me hope that there was a world out there that I fit into.
Early Supporter of LGBT Rights and AIDS Research
Back in 1977, Midler supported one of the first gay rights events called A Star Spangled Night for Rights. The night was deemed by some as having the makings of the cabaret version of Woodstock. Richard Pryor headlined and all that quickly changed, but the stage was set for change, thanks to Midler and others.
In 1998, she stated in a Village Voice article, “I feel like I was at the forefront of the gay liberation movement, and I hope I did my part to help it move forward.” And she has. She was welcoming to the gay community at a time when a lot of people weren’t, and she has been showered with our attention ever since.
Bette has also been a larger support for AIDS research and has given many important concerts to help AIDS’ foundations. In 2014, her remake of TLC’s “Waterfalls” exemplifies her continuation for the cause. In her stripped-down version, the song’s story really come across.
Bette Midler is a gay icon. Like many, I consider her a diva. She doesn’t though. A diva means nothing to her. According to a 2014 interview with PrideSource, she just prefers being divine.