As a closeted gay kid growing up in a socially conservative environment, there were few ways in which I could assert my true identity. One of those ways was by saying that I liked The Golden Girls. Hell, not just saying it, but proclaiming it loudly and proudly. “I not only like the Golden Girls. I LOVE the Golden Girls!”

Admitting your love for The Girls was admitting your love for the boys. The only thing close to that was admitting your love for Madonna. If you did both, you were basically flaunting your gayness, and at your own peril too. Straight jocks aren’t THAT stupid.

So it’s with great sadness that one of The Girls passes. Sophia Petrillo was the grandma everyone wanted. Regardless of which of the three “younger” girls you identified with, everyone loved Ma. She would not only cook and clean for you, she’d tell you a good story, make you laugh, impart her wisdom, and even kick your ass from time to time when you got out of line.

A lot of people are sad to hear the news of Estelle Getty’s passing today, but none are more sad than the gays. We’ll miss you Mrs. Petrillo.