Published on Nov. 9, 2022, at 4:35 p.m.
by Sydney Palmer
“Happiness is a choice. Happiness is a habit. And happiness is something you have to work hard at. It does not just happen.” – Leslie Jordan, 2021
Leslie Jordan, an Emmy-winning actor, writer, comedian and singer, best known for his roles in Will & Grace, American Horror Story and Hearts Afire, has died at 67. Jordan’s publicist confirmed the news to NPR, stating “not only was he a mega talent and joy to work with, but he provided an emotional sanctuary to the nation.”
Jordan was known for his multiple roles, notably for Beverly Leslie in “Will & Grace,” as well as characters in “Call Me Kat” and three separate seasons of “American Horror Story.”
Jordan’s following grew exponentially during 2020 when he posted uplifting videos full of laughter to TikTok. With the world stuck at home and looking for a light at the end of the tunnel, he emerged as the bright spot we had been searching for.
One of his most popular videos, where he tells a story about his childhood passion for baton twirling, surpassed 1.8 million views on Instagram. Posted at a time where gyms and fitness centers were closed due to the pandemic, Jordan displayed his “fitness routine,” twirling the baton while quoting his childhood self, saying “Daddy, watch me twirl!” This quote became the defining portion of the video, along with Jordan’s Southern charm and lovable personality.
Jordan’s following grew not only because of his humor but also his honesty. He often talked about his childhood experience growing up in Tennessee and being raised in the Baptist Church. As he grew up, he realized he was gay and subsequently fell out of grace with the church. “It’s hard to embrace something that doesn’t embrace you,” he told NPR in 2021. Jordan’s honesty and commitment to being comfortable in his own skin propped him up as a role model to others within the LGBTQIA+ community.
He resonates with many because of his sobriety. Jordan, who became sober in the ’90s, told “Today” that “his journey into sobriety was a cornerstone of his own acceptance of his sexuality.” Using drugs and alcohol had been a buffer to cope with the difficulties of being “out” in the ’80s. He mentioned in his videos that he grew up hating his femininity. Becoming sober at the age of 42 allowed Jordan to focus on himself and his own journey with his sexuality, doing so without the numbing effects of his addiction. Those struggling with their sobriety appreciated his candor, as well as his advice on how he conquered the difficult situation.
Jordan is a prime example of someone who epitomizes how to cultivate relationships — the cornerstone of the public relations practice — by being authentic, transparent and honest in one’s interactions with others. Thousands have commented on his passing, writing how much they respected and trusted him. He was an extremely influential person and will be missed greatly.