Best. Lesbian. Week. Ever. (Aug. 1, 2008)

According to a recent article in New York magazine, faux lesbianism (or bisexuality for that matter) is back! What? You didn’t know that it ever went away? Neither did I. (Paging Tila Tequila!)

Remember the olden days when Britney Spears and Madonna were making out willy-nilly and the two straight girls from t.A.T.u. (Lena Katina and Yulia Volkova) moistened their tank tops, locked lips and let all of us assume they were gay?


It wasn’t that long ago, but when those women toyed with the notion of lesbianism, they were rewarded with instant publicity. The New York article suggests that it doesn’t work that way anymore.

Journalist Jessica Coen, in "The Diminishing Returns of Faux-Lesbianism," writes that current pop culture is once again rife with girls who like girls — or at least pretend to and are willing to exploit it in the name of publicity. Only these days, being lesbian or bisexual doesn’t incite the same media firestorm that it once did.

As evidence of the trend — and the lack of public shock in response to it — Coen sites the alleged Lindsay Lohan/Samantha Ronson romance that has been splashed across the mainstream press, as well as the popularity of Katy Perry‘s single "I Kissed a Girl" (although those two things hardly seem similar, and the former seems more real than “alleged”).

Samantha Ronson and Lindsay Lohan

Even the rumored relationship between Johnson & Johnson heiress Casey Johnson and Courtenay Semel has failed to cause the kind of gossip frenzy that it might have just a few years ago.

Coen writes: "These moments seem more like a performance for attention than actual sexuality. As far as career moves go, going insta-gay has entered into downright predictable territory (and predictability, in these matters, might as well be a sin). These may, in fact, be the last months in which we even notice lesbian-tinged lyrics. For these women performing for the public gaze, adopting the lesbian pose is as easy a career move as grabbing a bottle of peroxide."

I think the article means to suggests that "faux lesbians" don’t make headlines anymore because one too many starlets has cried "lesbian wolf" and the public doesn’t buy it anymore. But I wonder if the "we" of Coen’s article includes lesbians and bisexual women, because our "we" (that is, we who are lesbians and bisexual women) does "notice" lesbian content in songs, television and film — even if it’s subtle, exploitive, or maybe not even real.

Despite the supposed ho-hum “predictability” of being gay, we all know that plenty of public figures still remain closeted out of fear that homophobia will cost them their career. The same goes for any kind of representation of lesbianism or bisexuality in popular culture. As of this fall there will be four queer women on network television, and two of those characters have never had relationships with women. It’s a lousy statistic, and I don’t think it’s because lesbianism is oh-so-boring.

Coen writes, "Exploring her lesbian side is the least shocking thing Lohan could do at this point; in fact, for any other young woman, it’d be positively normal." Call me crazy, but I don’t think so. It’s not that I don’t want what she’s suggesting about lesbians (faux or otherwise) to be true; it’s just that I don’t think she’s right.

Will any of the women above actually come out as lesbian or bisexual? The mainstream media may not care, but "we" will "notice" if they do.

by Karman Kregloe

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