Golden Gays

Golden-Con Was A Gay Old Time For Thousands of Golden Girls Fans

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The Golden Girls ran for seven seasons on NBC from 1985 to 1992. But 30 years after the beloved sitcom’s final episode aired, its fandom is alive and stronger than ever. At the end of April, around 3,500 Golden Girls devotees flocked to Golden-Con in Chicago, a new fan convention that’s sure to become an annual tradition.

The three-day event was full of — you guessed it — the girls and the gays. Plenty of people came in full costume or decked out in fabulous merchandise honoring the show’s four leading ladies: Dorothy Zbornak (Bea Arthur), Blanche Devereaux (Rue McClanahan), Rose Nylund (Betty White) and Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty).

White was the last surviving member of the main cast. In light of her passing at the end of last year, just shy of her 100th birthday, the convention had a special air of reverence. With the show’s main stars unable to attend, guests of honor at Golden-Con were instead writers and minor actors from the show’s many seasons, as well as Cindy Fee, the singer who lent her voice to the show’s infectious title theme, “Thank You For Being A Friend.”

Fee recorded the song when she was just 28 years old and living as a singer in Los Angeles. “I hadn’t seen the song before but that’s pretty typical in the industry — most of us are fairly good sight readers,” Fee told the New York Times. “They played through the song and I just sang it. It’s easy to sing because it’s a lovely tune.”

And the crowd went wild when Fee performed the song live at Golden-Con. They went even crazier when she brought out a special guest to sing with her: Aaron Scott, whose gospel remix of the song went viral in 2016 and has since garnered over 6.3 million views. (If the show ever gets a reboot, god forbid, they could at least use this version for the theme song.)

Another attraction for fans was a couch and chairs from the set of the show, driven to Chicago from Cañon City, Colorado, by partners Bryan Brozek and Richard Carrington. They bought the set from a California prop house for $9,000, and until Golden-Con, it had never left their home.

At the convention, fans just wanted “to come up and touch it knowing the cast sat on it,” said Carrington. “We had one guy bow to it.”

Plan are already in motion to have another Golden-Con in 2023, though it might be in Miami, the show’s setting, instead of Chicago. Wherever the convention goes, fans are sure to follow.

One of those fans, Chase Bristow, exemplifies the welcoming, friendly spirit of the show. Wearing Golden Girls merch from head to toe (including a tattoo on his arm), he shared how the show has helped him through dark times.

“When my parents threw me out because I’m gay, the first thing I did when I walked out the door was turn on Golden Girls,” he said. “It’s like that great big hug from grandma you always want.”

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