“I was going toe to toe with people on talk shows in America.”
Jane Sibbett has recalled the fervent backlash from portraying a lesbian character on Friends.
The actress portrayed Ross Gellar’s first former wife, Carol Willick, on the long-running NBC sitcom for seven years.
In a recent interview with Now to Love, Sibbett said she experienced resistance from mainstream media about playing an LGBTQ+ character, as well as from members of her own family.
“It became apparent soon after [the show premiered] there was suddenly a responsibility about being able to stand up against all of the people that were saying this was wrong, including my own father who had a really hard time with that,” she explained.
“I was going toe to toe with people on talk shows in America, who were saying this and this and this is the reason why you shouldn’t be doing this.”
Sibbett continued to say that she felt a responsibility to educate her critics and “break things down for them” about love and the LGBTQ+ community.
“I felt like it was really important for me to be super clear; love is the most important, of all the things that we could possibly do love is the most important way forward from anybody,” she added.
“So, that was my biggest responsibility, to make sure that people knew that.”
Although her character’s relationship with Susan Bunch (Jessica Hecht) was often the butt of the joke amongst the core six characters, their nuptials in the second season made history as the first lesbian wedding ever broadcast.
“We were poking fun at a person who didn’t get it, who was uncomfortable with the concept of us being together,” she admitted in an interview with Today.
“And that was the great beauty; the great truth in that the joke’s on the people that don’t get it, that this is all about love.”
Hecht – who currently stars in Netflix’s LGBTQ+ dramedy, Special – also praised how the show handled the couple, and her co-star, saying: “She’s so beautiful to act with, and such an amazing person.
“I do feel like we were successful at not over-characterizing it as anything but a loving relationship.
“It was just these two women who were in love, who had a balance between the two of them and were so devoted to each other. And I think that was ahead of its time.”