Why Rock Hudson Hid His Secret Gay Lifestyle

The late Rock Hudson, actor extraordinaire, was known for his handsome face and “deep, sensuous voice.” He played classic lead roles in the romance and comedy genres, among others, and had his own television series, McMillan and Wife, which ran from 1971-1977.

Rock Hudson was sighed over and dreamed about by young girls and housewives alike. Starry-eyed females watched his handsome face on the movie screen and waited each week for the newest installment of Hudson’s TV series. Unbeknownst to them, the ultra masculine Rock led a secret gay lifestyle. This quote, found on IMDB, may have hinted at this.

“I always consider my job just as someone working in an office. Past 5 P.M., I lead my very own existence far from the cameras. It’s essential for an actor to clearly separate private life from work… essential for me, anyway.”

It must have been difficult for Rock Hudson to live with such a secret in those days. The gay lifestyle was not as accepted at that time as it is today. Hudson was essentially leading two very different lives. IMDB further quotes Hudson in a statement from 1978 denying any kind of homosexual ties.

“I’ve heard that rumor for years and I just don’t care about it. I know lots of gays in Hollywood. Some have tried it on with me, but I’ve always said, ‘Come on, you’ve got the wrong guy!’ As soon as they know that, it’s okay!”

It may not be easy to understand why Hudson would hide who he really was from the public, but times were very different back then. As Lee Garlington, Hudson’s former partner, stated, “Nobody in their right mind came out. It was career suicide.”

I remember when news broke in the late 1980’s that Rock Hudson had AIDS. My mom was devastated. No woman who had followed the career of the charismatic Rock Hudson wanted to believe that he was not what he had portrayed for all those years.

As all things, once the news of Rock Hudson’s surprising romantic persuasions and subsequent illness sank in, the shock wore off and he was once again accepted. Perhaps not in the same way he had been before, as eye candy and the perfect model for macho masculinity, but as a genuine person who had the right to be himself.

The stigma on homosexuality was such that, when diagnosed with AIDS, Hudson hoped he would pass away from a heart attack, so the public would never know his secret. That was not the case, however, and although the public was told he had liver cancer when his illness became apparent, Rock eventually announced that he had AIDS. Soon after, Hudson donated $250,000 to NARF, the National AIDS Research Foundation.

“I am not happy that I am sick. I am not happy that I have AIDS. But if that is helping others, I can at least know that my own misfortune has had some positive worth.”

Recently, Lee Garlington has come forward to remember Rock Hudson, who he dated from 1962-1965. After Hudson’s death, his autobiography was published. In it, Rock calls Garlington his “one, true love”. Upon reading this, reports People, Garlington was overcome by emotion.

“I broke down and cried. I just lost it. He said his mother and I were the only people he ever loved. I had no idea I meant that much to him.”

Fans fondly remember the late Rock Hudson to this day. Though he is gone, his memory and legacy live on.

[Image via Fanpop]