Lee Garlington is an 81-year-old former stockbroker who has revealed the romantic relationship he used to have with Rock Hudson in the 1960s. To People, he shared several photographs of the two, and said that they couldn’t share their romance publicly because of the stigma of homosexuality at the time.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Hudson & Garlington Took a Private Vacation Together at the Suggestion of Elizabeth Taylor, He Says
To People, Garlington said that none other than Elizabeth Taylor suggested he and Hudson take a private trip to Puerto Vallerto, Mexico, to be together without fear of the public eye.
He said, “We walked on the beach and took pictures of each other with his camera and drove around in an open jeep. We just lived the life of two normal gay men that loved one another. There were no paparazzi and no one knew we were there. We were just comfortable being us.”
Garlington added, “[Hudson] did not have the opportunity to live his life the way he wanted to and he had to go around hiding. I wish he had been born thirty or forty years later. He’d be more relaxed and at ease and it would have been a happier life. He’d also be elated by how much has changed.”
2. Hudson Died of Complications Due to AIDS in 1985
Hudson made waves internationally when he announced that he had AIDS at 59 years old, a few months before he died due to complications with the disease in 1985. According to History.com, Hudson was the first major celebrity to public relay his involvement with the disease, which was heavily stigmatized at the time.
Garlington is not the only man who was romantically affiliated with Hudson. In 2009, Marc Christian sued the Hudson estate and won a multi-million dollar settlement after convincing the jury that Hudson had knowingly exposed him to AIDS, per The Washington Post.
However, Christian later said in an interview with People that he didn’t totally blame Hudson for what had happened. He said, “I find myself defending Rock against people who now characterize him as a monster. You can’t dismiss a man’s whole life with a single act. This thing about AIDS was totally out of character for him.”
3. Hudson Was Known for Movies Such as ‘Giant’ & ‘Pillow Talk’
Hudson has 75 acting credits to his name, according to IMDB. He was nominated for an Oscar for his work in Giant, and won four Golden Globes for being the World Film Favorite in 1959, 1960, 1961, and 1963.
Garlington was dating Hudson at the height of his career. Mark Griffin, whose biography on Hudson, All That Heaven Allows, details Hudson’s relationship with Garlington, said of them to People, “Sadly at the height of his fame, being authentically who he was would have resulted in a terminated contact and a shattered career.”
He continued, “Fortunately there has been significant progress in Hollywood and beyond. It’s just too bad that Rock didn’t live long enough to to see our culture evolve.”
4. Via One of the Biographies About Hudson, Garlington Was Called His ‘One True Love’
According to People, Garlington found out through one of the biographies on Hudson years after Hudson’s death that he had been known as his “one true love.”
Garlington said to People, “I broke down and cried. He said his mother and I were the only people he ever loved. I had no idea I meant that much to him.”
Though Hudson never spoke publicly about his relationship with Garlington, Hudson’s wife told The Hollywood Reporter that she’d secretly recorded a conversation with her then-husband to ask him whether he was gay. Via the recording, Gates said at one point, “Everyone knows that you were picking up boys off the street shortly after we were married and have continued to do so, thinking that being married would cover up for you.”
Hudson replied, “I have never picked up any boys on the street. I have never picked up any boys in a bar, never. I have never picked up any boys, other than to give them a ride.”
5. Garlington Eventually Married Paul Garlington, & They Have Been Together for 32 Years
Lee Garlington is currently married to his husband, Paul. It’s not clear if they have any children. They’ve been married for 32 years.
As for Hudson, he and Gates never had any children. However, last January a woman named Susan Dent announced an ongoing legal battle to establish Hudson as her paternal father through DNA testing.