Bea Arthur died in 2009, but the Golden Girls star is in the news again this week. And this time, not just because someone is referencing that ahead-of-its-time hit show from the ‘80s.
Back then, Arthur played Dorothy Zbornak, and she and her fellow Golden Girls cast members turned ageist stereotypes on their heads. They also tackled social justice issues on TV long before “ageism” was widely talked about. In her personal life, Arthur was an outspoken advocate for animal rights and civil rights.
Arthur’s Selfless Support for the Cause
In 2005, she began offering her support to the Ali Forney Center, a nonprofit tackling the problem of homeless LGBT youth in New York City. The idea of kids kicked out of their homes because they were gay or transgender especially troubled her. In a 2015 piece for the Huffington Post, center director Carl Siciliano wrote about Arthur’s selfless support for the cause, quoting her as saying, “These kids at the Ali Forney Center are literally dumped by their families because of the fact that they are lesbian, gay or transgender — this organization really is saving lives.”
After her death, Arthur bequeathed $300,000 to the center, a gift that not only helped the organization survive the recession, but also helped it build the shelter that will bear her name. It’s been a long time coming, but the 18-bed Bea Arthur Residence for LGBT youth in crisis is finally set to open in February 2017 in New York City’s East Village.
At this year’s groundbreaking ceremony, Siciliano writes, a cheesecake was cut, instead of a ribbon. It was a nod to the kind of friendship, love and support the center intends to provide. A place where, like The Golden Girls, kids on the margins can create their own families.