Honey Boo Boo's gay uncle, Lee Thompson, whom she lovingly refers to as "Uncle Poodle," spoke out about what it is like to be gay in the South and shared some of his more painful memories in honor of Spirit Day.
"Being gay in the South, people don't like it," Thompson, who has appeared on TLC's "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," told GLAAD. "Why? You have homophobes that wanna beat you, and bully you, and name-call you, and hurt you in any kind of way."
Growing up a gay in Milledgeville, Ga., Thompson was the target of hate. He suffered broken ribs and a broken jaw, and has had his car vandalized. "But I have a family that stands by me, supports me," he said. Adding, "I'm wearing purple today to let every youngster and every teen know it is okay to be who you are. Don't let nobody change that."
Miss Honey Boo Boo herself, otherwise known as Alana Thompson, supports her uncle through and through. On the season finale of her hit TV show, Alana voiced her pro-LGBT stance, saying "ain't nothin' wrong with bein' a little gay." Her uncle Lee is her favorite "Poodle."
Thompson explained to the Georgia Voice how Alana came up with the now-famous "Poodle" nickname.
"We were at practice one day, getting ready for a pageant. Her coach was talking about her gay friends, and she said, ‘I love all my poodles,’" he told the Georgia Voice. "Alana thought she was really talking about dogs. She wanted to know how many poodles she had, and what were their names. And I said, ‘No, Alana, she’s talking about gay people.’ Well, that did it. All gay people are poodles to her now, and I’m her number one poodle.”
Fame has gotten Thompson his own group of Southern fans (one woman followed him around Walmart before getting a photo), and he now uses that platform to speak out for the LGBT community.
"We've always supported gay people, even long before the show started," Mama June, Alana's mother, told E! News. "We didn't just do it because we have the show. Some people are kind of scared—what you'd call homophobes—but everyone knew Sugarbear had a gay brother. It's not a big deal."
Thompson joined celebrity supporters Dianna Agron, Perez Hilton, Kristin Cavallari, Andy Cohen, Lance Bass, Jimmy Kimmel, Ricky Martin and Snooki to celebrate Spirit Day on Oct. 19. Spirt Day started in 2010 in memory of those young people who have taken their lives.