The queer community is mourning the loss of LGBTQ+ advocate and ally Olivia Newton-John.
In an announcement on Facebook Monday, John Easterling, the husband of the singer and actress, relayed the news that she had died at age 73.
Newton-John had been battling breast cancer for over three decades, her first cancer diagnosis in 1992 when she was 44. Although she had previously seen her cancer in remission, in 2017 she was diagnosed again.
In October of 2020 in an interview with The Guardian the pop star and actor spoke about her third diagnosis of cancer. “Three times lucky, right?” she smiles warmly. “I’m going to look at it like that. Listen, I think every day is a blessing. You never know when your time is over; we all have a finite amount of time on this planet, and we just need to be grateful for that.”
When Pride Source Editorial Director Chris Azzopardi interviewed Newton-John in 2017, just before she announced the recurrence, she said, “My dream is to see an end to cancer in my lifetime.” In the interview, she also touched on her affinity for her LGBTQ+ fans.
“I love you guys,” she said. “You’re so loyal and lovely to me, and I appreciate you.”
The cancer’s return in 2017 was, she told The Guardian, not unexpected. “It’s been a part of my life for so long. I felt something was wrong. It’s concerning when it comes back, but I thought: ‘I’ll get through it again.’”
What of her health problems? “I don’t think of myself as sick with cancer,” she says firmly. “I choose not to see it as a fight either because I don’t like war. I don’t like fighting wherever it is – whether it’s outside or an actual war inside my body. I choose not to see it that way. I want to get my body healthy and back in balance. Part of that is your mental attitude to it. If you think: ‘Poor me,’ or ‘I’m sick,’ then you’re going to be sick.”
The pop star and singer was arguably best known for her breakout role in “Grease,” the 1978 American musical romantic-comedy film based on the 1971 musical of the same name by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, which co-starred Oscar nominated actor John Travolta.
Travolta paid tribute to his co-star in a post on his Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
Out actor George Takei tweeted his remembrance:
We have lost a great, iconic artist in Olivia Newton John, gone too soon from us at age 73. I trust she is now in the great Xanadu beyond. Know that we are forever hopelessly devoted to you, Olivia. Rest in song and mirth.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) August 8, 2022
In addition to her husband she is survived by her 36-year-old daughter, Chloe Lattanzi.
The family asked for donations to be made to her cancer organization, the Olivia Newton-John Foundation Fund, in lieu of flowers.
In the Pride Source interview, Newton-John reflected on losing her sister (Rona Newton-John, who died in 2013 from brain cancer) and had a message for those left behind. “I think grief is not something that is talked about enough,” she said. “There’s no time when there’s a loss. Loss is different for everybody. The people you’ve lost, they’ll always be in your life; they’ll always be there, in your heart.”
This article originally appeared in the Washington Blade and is made available in partnership with the National Gay Media Association. Additional reporting by Sarah Bricker Hunt.