Whoopi Goldberg addresses her joke about Republican senator Lindsay Graham’s sexuality

Side by side images of Whoopi Goldberg and Lindsey Graham

The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg has apologised after suggesting in a joke Republican senator Lindsey Graham might be part of the LGBTQ+ community.

Goldberg made a joke about Graham’s sexuality during a conversation with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about politics in the US. 

This led to a discussion about the South Carolina senator’s conservative views on same-sex marriage and abortion, especially after he introduced a bill in September that would bring forward a nationwide ban on abortions

Jean-Pierre highlighted during the show that the bill represented a sharp U-turn from Graham’s previous stance that individual states should decide on abortion rules after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade‘s right to abortion ruling.

“Senator Graham said maybe about a month ago, in early August, that he believes, when it comes to marriage, when it comes to abortion, it’s for the states to decide, so, senator Graham, what changed?” Jean-Pierre said.

“Well, maybe he’s getting married?” Goldberg responded. “Do it quick because I know people are fooling around with our marriage rights, wherever you stand.”

Whoopi Goldberg clarified her statement following the show’s commercial break and the departure of Jean-Pierre. The Oscar-winning actor said her insinuation that Lindsey Graham may not be straight “was a joke, nothing more than that”. 

“I need to make clear that I was doing what I do as a comic,” she said. “Sometimes I make jokes, and it was a joke, nothing more than that.”

Goldberg continued: “I just got a whole conversation about people misunderstanding the joke. I mean, OK. 

“I should probably never do this show again, if this is what it’s coming to. It was a joke, guys.”

She did not clarify publicly who she had a “whole conversation” with during the break, but a source told EW Goldberg’s follow-up was a statement she wanted to make herself.

Whoopi Goldberg wears a purple outfit

Whoopi Goldberg said she would “probably never do this show again” after making a “joke” about senator Lindsey Graham. (Getty)

The joke is likely a reference to the persistent rumours Graham is in the closet, and many have condemned these allegations as homophobic.

The rumours about Graham’s sexuality expose the toxic expectation, underlying the gossip, that politicians are expected to be male, cisgender, straight, married and have children – which is untrue as there are politicians from all backgrounds in the US. 

Comedian Chelsea Handler, Tony winner Patti LuPone and Bill Maher have made comments in the past implying Graham was gay. 

Lindsey Graham has consistently denied claims about his sexuality and clarified in 2018 he is “not gay”.

Lindsey Graham wears a suit and tie as he speaks to someone off camera

Republican senator Lindsey Graham has consistently denied the rumours that he may be part of the LGBTQ+ community. (Getty)

The rumours reached a pitch in June 2020 after the Washington Post published an article detailing allegations made by gay porn star Sean Harding against Graham. The article claimed Graham was reportedly refered to as “Lady Graham” and the abbreviated “Lady G” among male sex workers. 

The hashtag #LadyG does occasionally trend on Twitter, and former White House press secretary Jen Psaki faced backlash from conservatives over a 2020 tweet that referred to these claims about Graham’s sexuality.

In September, a panel on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour denounced Lindsey Graham’s proposed national abortion ban, with guest and comedian Judy Gold claiming the senator has “never seen a vagina”. 

Gold also alleged the lawmaker had “never seen a naked woman”, which was received with laughter from the rest of the panel. Host Stephanie Ruhle added: “We don’t know that for sure. We do not know that for sure.”