Rock Hudson’s ex cried after learning he was the star’s ‘true love’

American film star Rock Hudson poses for a photo in 1956

Rock Hudson’s ex-partner Lee Garlington has revealed that he only found out after the star’s death that Hudson thought of him as his “true love.”

The 81-year-old retired stockbroker, who dated Hudson in the 1960s, said that when he read the revelation in a biography, he “broke down and cried.

“He said his mother and I were the only people he ever loved. I had no idea I meant that much to him,” Garlington told People.

Lee Garlington praises impact of Rock Hudson on AIDS discussion

The legendary Hollywood actor, who was a prominent leading man during the 1950s and 1960s, made international headlines when he publicly revealed he had AIDS in July 1985, three months before his death.

He was one of the highest-profile victims of the AIDS crisis, and his announcement shifted the conversation around the disease, according to Garlington.

“Because he was so widely loved and appreciated, his admission changed so many people’s attitudes about AIDS. He had a huge impact, much more than he ever realised,” he said.

Hudson died just weeks after former First Lady Nancy Reagan ignored a request to help him secure a pioneering AIDS treatment at the Percy Military Hospital in Paris.

Rock Hudson and Lee Garlington dated in secret

The pair had to keep their love affair under wraps, to the extent that there couldn’t be any evidence of their involvement.

“We couldn’t take any pictures together, it was too dangerous”

— Lee Garlington

Garlington said: “We couldn’t take any pictures together, it was too dangerous. We could only take pictures of each other.”

He explained that Hudson, whose life is being turned into a new biopic by Universal Pictures and Love, Simon director Greg Berlanti, was advised to take this secretive approach by those closest to him.

“His agent told him that he was never to have one of his boyfriends in a photo because if anyone saw it, they would suspect he was gay,” he said.

This was also true when the couple went on holiday to Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, on the recommendation of Hudson’s co-star and HIV/AIDS campaigner Elizabeth Taylor.

Hudson’s ex-partner remembered: “We walked on the beach and took pictures of each other with his camera and drove around in an open jeep.

American actor Rock Hudon (1925 - 1985) leans against a sea foam green car in a parking lot, 1950s

Lee Garlington wished that Rock Hudson had been alive decades later (Getty)

“We just lived the life of two normal gay men that loved one another. There were no paparazzi and no one knew we were there. We were just comfortable being us.”

Garlington wished that Hudson had been alive decades later, when society was more progressive, saying his ex “did not have the opportunity to live his life the way he wanted to and he had to go around hiding.

“I wish he had been born thirty or forty years later. He’d be more relaxed and at ease and it would have been a happier life. He’d also be elated by how much has changed.”

Garlington, who has been in a relationship with his husband Paul Garlington for 32 years, added: “I remember how handsome he was and what a great time we had together.

“He was the kindest man I ever met.”