As the star of the recent queer-themed films Other People and Miles, Molly Shannon has emerged as a vocal ally for the LGBT community. Now, the comedian is revealing that a large part of her voice as an ally stems from her late father’s revelation that he had spent his whole life living as a closeted gay man.
While speaking at a West Hollywood Q&A for Miles, in which she plays a mother fighting for her son to be able to join the high school girls’ volleyball team, Shannon revealed that she never realized her dad might be gay while she was growing up, and didn’t learn the truth until he was 72-years-old.
“He told me he was gay right before he died,” she shared. “We were sitting at the pool at the Four Seasons, and I said, ’Have you ever thought you might be gay?’ He said, ’Most definitely.’ And then we drove to Ohio and talked about it for the next 72 hours.”
Looking back, the former SNL star realized there may have been some clues about her father’s sexual orientation along the way.
“When I went to NYU drama school, I would send him pictures of, like, a head shot of Judy Garland,” she said. “I didn’t associate that he might be gay; I just thought, ’He’ll love this!’ And then when I got my first color head shots, my dad framed it and threw gold stars all over it.”
Shannon recently won Best Supporting Female at the Independent Spirit Awards for her moving portrayal of gay man’s mother who’s dying of cancer in Chris Kelly’s Other People, and she credits her father as part of the reason she was drawn to the project.
“All stories about people being gay and coming out, I’m just so attracted to,” she said. “It was my whole childhood. My whole life. I was the child of somebody who had to keep that secret. So anything I can do to let that out and tell all those stories is the most important thing to me.”