Culture

Late Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice remembered by trans woman she helped come out

Emily Chudy December 13, 2021
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Author Anne Rice has died at the age of 80

Author Anne Rice has died at the age of 80 (Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly)

A trans actress has described how Interview with the Vampire author Anne Rice was the first person she came out to, following her death aged 80.

The American writer, who sold more than 150 million books, died surrounded by family, due to complications resulting from a stroke.

After her passing, hundreds of fans rushed to pay tribute to the author, with trans actress Phaylen Fairchild penning an essay on Medium describing Rice’s allyship and generosity.

After Fairchild sent Rice fan-mail at the age of 18, the two struck up an unexpected friendship. Rice eventually became the first person Fairchild came out to as gay, and later as trans. 

Then a “young, budding writer”, Fairchild discovered Rice had listed her personal email address on her old website, around the turn of the millenium. So, she wrote her a message – and was surprised when she received a length response a day later.

“She was impossibly generous with her words, beyond kind, and she spoke to me, not like a stranger who had sent an unsolicited email, but like a friend,” Fairchild wrote. 

“At the time I was a navigating difficult territory of gender and sexuality, and she was the first person I came out to as gay.

“Anne, although I never heard her voice, felt like a safe place. It is difficult to describe how her words on the blindingly bright screen contrasted with black text exuded so much gentleness and a indescribable nurturing that we queer kids rarely received. She gave me confidence to live authentically, telling me: ‘Your life is a story, every day is a new page. Live a story worthy of telling again and again.'”

Years later, Fairchild told Rice that she was a trans woman.

“In typical Anne fashion, she thought it was fabulous,” she wrote.

“She told me at the time that she believed transgender people were sacred; that we possessed a unique gift of life experience that few ever would, which would allow us to see the world from ‘a view from the greatest height’.

“She shared with me stories of trans figures in history that she had learned about in her own extensive studies. ‘The most fascinating figures in mythology were always transgender or genderless,’ she once told me. ‘And in so many cultures reaching back thousands of years, transgender and intersex people were deified, perceived as wise and powerful.'”

Fairchild went on to say that Rice “made me feel that it was OK to be comfortable in my skin” and that “my journey as a trans woman was special”. 

Anne Rice, whose son Christopher is gay, has long been seen as an LGBT+ ally.

Speaking to the Daily Beast in 2017, Rice said: “People told me Interview With the Vampire was a gay allegory, and I was very honoured by that. 

“I’ve always been very much a champion of gay rights, and art produced by gay people — whether it was the early Frankenstein movies that had such a gay sensibility to them, or any art created by gay people. I’m highly sensitive to it. I have a gay sensibility. 

“I get teased a lot by my gay friends because we have a rapport on things we find exciting or interesting. 

“It’s very hard for me to remember that I have a gender, and that they’re treating me in a negative way because of that gender.”

Rice announced in 2010 that she had distanced herself from Christianity, in part because of anti-LGBT sentiment.

Writing on Facebook, she said: “Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always, but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being a part of Christianity.

“In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

Announcing her death, her son Christopher said a public celebration of Rice’s life would be held next year in New Orleans, where the author was born and raised.

More: Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire, LGBT, Trans

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