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Why Doris Day should be remembered as a gay icon

Patrick Kelleher May 13, 2019
Why Doris Day should be remembered as a gay icon

Doris Day in Calamity Jane (Wikipedia)

Acclaimed actor, singer and Hollywood legend Doris Day has died at the age of 97.

Born Doris Mary Ann Keppelhoff in Cincinnati, Ohio, Day become a well-known face in Hollywood films and musicals during the 1950s and 1960s.

Throughout her career, Day also became known as a gay icon for a variety of reasons, and her films hold a special place within the hearts of many LGBT+ fans.

Gay Doris Day fans hold ‘Secret Love’ close to their hearts

Day fast became a gay icon during her peak years on-screen, and that was in no small part due to her starring role in Calamity Jane. In the famed 1953 musical, Day sings the song “Secret Love,” which is often considered a gay anthem.

In the film—in which Day played a tomboy character—she sang the lines: “Once I had a secret love / That lived within the heart of me / All too soon my secret love / Became impatient to be free.”

Towards the end of the song, Day’s characters sings: “Now I shout it from the highest hills / Even told the golden daffodils / At last my heart’s an open door / And my secret love’s no secret anymore.”

The song has long been held close by members of the LGBT+ community, with many reacting to the news of her death by sharing the song.

LGBT+ fans praise Doris Day as a ‘gay icon’

One shared Day’s recording of “Secret Love” and said: “Well this is sad. A gay icon due to her films with actor Rock Hudson and this coded queer tune from Calamity Jane. Another voice from another time… RIP Doris Day.”

Another Twitter user said: “Gutted to hear of the death of the wonderful Doris Day having lived her best life to the grand age of 97. For lesbian and gay people of a certain age this song is anthemic and full of the joys of coming out.”

Why Doris Day should be remembered as a gay icon
Doris Day (Hulton Archive/Getty)

Meanwhile, another user simply said: “So sad to hear Doris Day has died. How many gay men can relate to “Secret Love”?

Somebody else said Day was “an amazing actress, singer, glorious screen comedienne and let’s be honest, a true gay icon. RIP Doris Day, on behalf of us mere mortals give Rock a hug from us.”

Another fan declared “Secret Love” should be considered the gay national anthem following her death.

She is remembered as a friend and co-star of gay actor Rock Hudson

Day was also known for her relationship with gay actor Rock Hudson, who died from complications arising from AIDS in the 1980s.

The pair starred opposite each other in classics such as Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back. Speaking in 2015, Day said she still missed her co-star.

In an interview with People, Day revealed that Hudson kept his promise to appear on her variety show in July 1985—despite the fact that he was dying at the time.

She said: “He was very sick. But I just brushed that off and I came out and put my arms around him and said ‘Am I glad to see you.’”

“They had a small plane to get him to the airport. We kissed goodbye and he gave me a big hug and he held onto me. I was in tears. That was the last time I saw him—but he’s in heaven now.”

She added: “I think the reason people liked our movies is because they could tell how much we liked each other. It came across that way on screen. He was a good friend.”

More: 97, actress, dead, death, doris day, Gay, gay icon, LGBT, rock hudson, singer

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