Lea DeLaria revealed she was once the victim of a hate crime so brutal that it sent her to the hospital.
In a new interview with Page Six, the “Orange Is the New Black” alum, 63 recalled being “majorly, majorly gay-bashed” in San Francisco when she was 24 years old.
“My nose was broken, chipped an eye socket, had several cracked ribs,” she said. “I’ve been verbally abused more times than you can mention in my life, and that still goes on. There’s always someone who’s going to call me a fat guy.”
DeLaria said the harassment has eased in recent years due to her beloved role as Carrie “Big Boo” Black on “OITNB,” but she noted that gay-bashing has always “been incredibly rough” for butch lesbians like herself.
“That’s a fact. We get attacked more than any other women in our community,” she explained. “It’s always been rough on trans women, very rough especially for trans women of color, and it’s always been incredibly rough on butch lesbians. What ‘Orange’ has done for me, as a butch lesbian, is, it’s opened up people’s hearts and minds to women who look like me. Because ‘Orange’ was the first positive representation of a butch lesbian that I’ve ever seen in mainstream media.”
In 1993, DeLaria, who is also an accomplished jazz singer, became the first openly gay comic to appear on a late-night talk show when she announced on “The Arsenio Hall Show” that she was a “big dyke.”
These days, she’s been focused on “The Lesbian Bar Project” documentary, which was created in partnership with Jägermeister’s #SAVETHENIGHT, an initiative that supports the nightlife community as it recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Astonishingly, there are only 21 lesbian bars left in the entire United States. DeLaria wants to make sure that they are not shuttered and is asking that people watch the documentary for free and then donate.
“[When] I walk into a dyke bar, I’m walking into my sense of community, my sense of safety, my sense of camaraderie,” the “One Life to Live” star told us.
The self-described “Lord of the Lesbians” even has a favorite watering hole: Cubbyhole in New York City.
“I’ve been a professional lesbian since 1982,” she said. “I always had a presence in the lesbian bars, and I was always the famous lesbian that would go to the lesbian bars. Most famous lesbians do not. The Cubbyhole is my home. It’s the place I go to nonstop; everybody there knows me.”