Gay mag The Advocate refers to gay icon Judy Garland as the "Elvis of homosexuals." Even though Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 June 22, 1969) had numerous gay friends and a gay father it is believed that her true connection with gay men was rooted in her ability to overcome the inner conflict, instability and loneliness that defined her life even during stardom. Judy's necessity to maintain a "stage presence" at all times despite her inner turmoil led to a severe prescription drug addiction and eventually her tragic death. Gay men of the homophobic 50s and 60s identified with the dichotomy of her life as they too had to hide behind walls of perceived strength.
Garland's journey to personal acceptance as the young Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz resonated throughout the gay community. Despite intense fear, confusion and a series of trials, Judy as Dorothy finally made it "home" by realizing that she possessed all of the heart, strength and courage needed to find the true happiness that lived within. Gay men of the past and today also embarked on adventures of self-discover that led full circle to self-acceptance.
The message of The Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland's courage is credited with giving many gay men the strength to come out and live their lives despite adversity. Thus came the expression "Friend of Dorothy," which many gay men used to describe themselves and other gay people. Today, gay Judy Garland references are used to describe a gay man's best friend, who we affectionately call "My Judy."