Comedian Joan Rivers has praised her large gay following.

In an interview with Los Angeles-based gay weekly Frontiers in LA, Rivers said gays were the first “to laugh at me.”

When asked, “Joan, you have such a strong fanbase among the gays. What is your take on why that is?” Rivers answered: “Because I think gay men are brighter and smarter and more open, and they always – even in the beginning – got my comedy. I remember the first one to say, 'she's funny.'”

The 77-year-old Rivers added: “The first ones in Greenwich Village to laugh at me were the gays.”

Rivers, who won Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice in 2009, recently backed down a bit on her advice that gay actors should remain closeted.

“Yes. You are supposed to be a heartthrob, and you want the little teenage girls' hearts to go pitter-patter. That's what brings in the money. You know what? Let them stay in the closet and send big checks to AIDS research. Let them come out like Ricky Martin did, when you want to come out.”

“However,” she told gay glossy The Advocate, “if it isn't going to affect your career and if you're not the heartthrob, then shame on you for not coming out.”