Leslie Jordan

“There isn’t a lot I can do on this planet, but I can be funny” – Leslie Jordan (1955-2022).

On October 24th, the world lost one of its most influential LGBTQ+ icons and an amazing, funny actor Leslie Jordan. On his way to film scenes for Call Me Kat, a show he was on, he suffered from a medical emergency and unfortunately crashed his car into a building in Hollywood. At only 67 years old, Leslie Jordan leaves behind a great legacy that goes far beyond his Hollywood career.
During the pandemic, Jordan gained social media fame, posting many comedy videos on TikTok and Instagram. Many of his videos garnered millions of views and likes, with one of his “sounds” going viral on TikTok. At the time of his death, he had 2.8 million followers on TikTok and six million followers on Instagram.
But Jordan’s greatest influence was his icon-level status in the LGBTQ+ community. As a gay actor from the South, he took up a very special and unique corner of queer culture. Jordan was very well known for expressing his queerness in his roles and public persona. His character in Will and Grace came out as gay on the show, which broke barriers and was very forward thinking for the 90’s. Jordan also represented the generation that was hit by the AIDS epidemic. He was a representation of all of the amazing talent and potential lost by AIDS. Because of his public image and joy surrounding his queerness, Jordan was an amazing role model for members of the LGBTQ+ community, both young and old. In 2021, he received the GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics’ Timeless Star award, further cementing his place in queer entertainment history.
Jordan began his acting career in the 80s, having many guest roles in several sitcoms of that time. His biggest role of that time, and one that he is still recognizable for, was Beverley Leslie in the TV sitcom Will and Grace. This role earned him an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series. Some of his most notable roles since then have been in The Help, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Reba, and American Horror Story. He also was a guest judge on Rupaul’s Drag Race and The Masked Singer. For fans of Disney and Disney Channel, Jordan also had guest roles on K.C. Undercover and Shake It Up. He also had many onstage roles throughout the years, even writing an autobiographical stage show called Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far. The show ran for seven months off-Broadway at the Soho Playhouse. His other autobiographical show, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet, was a one man show that opened off-Broadway at the Midtown Theater in 2010.
As much as Jordan’s passing has been devastating for many, it’s important to look back on his immense impact in both Hollywood and the queer community. His constant light and joy will be missed by many.