Actress Miriam Margolyes reveals she’s lost 34 friends to HIV
British-Australian entertainer, Miriam Margolyes has detailed her agony over losing 34 friends to HIV.
The actress, who is the cover star for Vogue’s Pride issue told the magazine: ‘I counted [the number] one day because there were so many people who had died and they were all beautiful, talented, funny, gifted boys.’
While residing in LA, Miriam, 82, joined the Project Angel Food charity, which delivered meals to those too ill to leave the house.
She said: ‘I didn’t always know their names. I just knew their addresses. They were on their own all day. These tiny hunted faces looking out the window. It was awful.’
The author and actress, who is a lesbian came to her parents in 1966 – when being gay was still illegal.
Miriam is currently in a civil partnership with her partner of 54 years, Heather Sutherland, 80, an Australian historian and a former professor at a university in Amsterdam.
The pair met in 1967 while working on a BBC radio drama.
Miriam has said the thought of her calling Heather her ‘wife’ makes her feel sick and said living apart has been good for them.
She said: ‘We were able to lead our lives without diminishing them. I didn’t want her to have to give up anything. And I didn’t want to give up anything. I wanted my cake and I wanted to eat it too. And so far, it’s worked.’
Miriam entered into a civil partnership with Heather ‘mostly for legal protection’.
She admitted she’s never been one for Pride marches, admitting: ‘I actually find lesbians a bit on the boring side, because they’re a bit heavy-handed about it all.’
The Call The Midwife star has just returned from Tuscany where she has been staying with Heather since December, in her farmhouse.
She has previously said she saw her partner – who she describes as ‘private and reserved’, eight times in the space of one year.
While she has never felt any shame over being gay, Miriam does admit she regrets coming out to her parents, Joseph, a doctor, and Ruth, a property developer.
Despite the law saying otherwise at the time, Miriam says she knew her sexuality wasn’t criminal because ‘it was me. I couldn’t be criminal,’
However, she said her parents’ reaction was hurtful and her mother made her swear on the Torah that she would never have sex with another woman again.
She said coming out ‘hurt them’ and she ‘doesn’t want to hurt people.’
Months after, her mother had a severe stroke and she cared for her until she died, convinced that the news of her sexuality contributed to her mother’s ill health.
In her book, Miriam wrote: ‘I always believed that my coming out in some way caused it.
‘It was a horrendous time and I was very unhappy. I knew I couldn’t change what I was; I should not have told them.’
Miriam’s father passed away in 1995, aged 96. She has said she doesn’t believe either ever accepted her sexuality, but it never stopped her from loving them.