It makes me really happy that people are speculating about Rosie O’Donnell’s love life, that she’s in People magazine talking about how she met her girlfriend at a Starbucks. And The National Enquirer, that trashy rag, wrote an entire story recently about how Portia and Ellen don’t want kids. They literally took one idea from Ellen’s new book where she said they won’t have kids and made it into a news item. That, too, makes me a little giddy.
Lesbians are finally getting tabloid equality.
Now I know that many people don’t aspire to be paparazzi-stalked (or maybe they do, I just don’t know many with that dream), but when I went to People.com last week and saw Rosie’s relationship was a hot topic next to a similar story about George Clooney, it reminded me that our love lives are becoming more normalized. It used to be that stories about gays and lesbians were relegated to pieces on outing, secret gay lovers or drunken lesbian trysts caught on camera. So there’s a been a subtle shift in the last few years in which these kinds of gossipy bits actually hint at progress.
Celebrity gossip isn’t exactly high-brow, but most people will admit to their being up on the latest tidbits. In fact, I bet your mom knows Lindsay Lohan had a girlfriend once. (Seriously, I’m curious if she does. Ask her!) It’s not that I want cameras and pushy reporters digging into the private lives of celesbians (or any public figures for that matter), but their inclusion alongside newsworthy straight celebrities is validating. Everyone wants to be able to see parts of themselves reflected on TV or in magazines and if you could only find the words “lesbian” or “bisexual” accompanied by an unflattering photo, the words “shocking scandal” and the celebrity at hand denying the entire situation, that is not going to give you a positive self image.
Visibility is important, and that includes our coverage in even the least reputable of tacky magazines. But as long as they aren’t referring to Wanda Sykes’ wife as her “lesbian lover” or quoting anonymous sources who are using someone’s sexuality against them, I’ll feel OK about the whole thing.
So … have you heard the latest on Sara Gilbert?
Trish Bendix is the managing editor of AfterEllen.com.