Dating back to her first book The World is Full of Married Men appeared in 1968, best selling author Jackie Collins has included gay characters in her novels.
‘Before AIDS, before gay men were even talked about in books, unless it was a gay book. Before women talked about sex,’ she tells Out.com.
‘I’ve written 29 books, and I’ve always had gay characters, right from the very beginning,’ she adds. ‘Sometimes they might be a little clichéd, and sometimes not. [For example] Cole, who is my gay fitness trainer, has been in several books with Lucky [Santangelo, the heroine of many Collins novels]. He is so gorgeous, and he keeps on having these affairs with older men in Hollywood who just want him for his looks.’
So what is the reason behind Collins inclusion of gay characters and her longtime advocacy for gay rights?
It dates back to a tragic experience as a teenager.
‘When I was 15 and thrown out of school, I went to a drama school, a preparatory academy in England, and there was this lovely guy there called Peter,’ she says. ‘He was my first gay crush, really, and we got along like a house on fire – and one day he committed suicide. … I’ll never forget Peter. He was so good-looking; he had curly hair, and he was tall and lovely. He just couldn’t come out, and then he killed himself. He must have been about 17, maybe.’
She adds: ‘That made me think really deeply about the problems that some poor guys go through when they want to come out.’