Q: I was watching Louie Anderson on the Late Late Show and am curious to know if he is gay. I just read about him being blackmailed, which had me wondering. There is some conflicting information on the internet.—IJK
A: Back in the late 1990s, Louie Anderson was blackmailed by a man, Richard Gordon, who threatened to say that the comedian had propositioned him for sex. Anderson, who was appearing on the family-friendly shows Life With Louie and Family Feud at the time, paid the man $100,000. When Gordon subsequently came back for more money, Anderson went to the authorities, and in early 2000 the man was arrested in an undercover sting.
Anderson has since talked very obliquely about the whole episode, not really denying that the proposition happened, but vaguely attributing it to since-resolved problems with drugs and alcohol. Why did he acquiesce to the blackmail in the first place? He says he was worried about the scandal impacting his career—and, in fact, the blackmailer had specifically mentioned in a letter that his accusations would impact Anderson’s association with children.
I’m certain this was an extremely traumatic event for Anderson, and I can appreciate how he might want to put it completely behind him. I also hate to give any power to blackmailers like Gordon.
On the other hand, this is all a matter of public record and it was widely written about at the time, so it doesn’t seem inappropriate to me to ask the obvious question: How does Anderson self-identify? Does he have a romantic partner in his life? As far as I could tell, he’s never said.
So I did ask him. But he never responded. And especially in this case, it’s worth remembering that as much I have the right to ask, he has the right not to tell.
Bret Hartinger is an AfterElton writer and a young adult novelist.