When she told The Advocate in 1999, “I consider myself bisexual, and my philosophy is, everyone innately is,” actress Megan Mullally (Karen on Will & Grace) was one of only a few celebrities to ever publicly identify as bisexual.
Since then, however, there has been a stampede of well-known women admitting their attraction to women, with only a few actually embracing the word “bisexual” as Drew Barrymore did in her July 2003 interview with New Woman magazine when she said “I have always considered myself bisexual” because “I think a woman and a woman together are beautiful, just as a man and a woman together are beautiful.”
Most who are open about their bisexuality, however, are leery of being labeled. Angelina Jolie has always been very upfront about her attraction to women, making frequent references to it in the press all along, like in a 2000 interview with Elle magazine in which she responded to a question about what who she was attracted to by saying “Honestly, I like everything. Boyish girls, girlish boys, the heavy and the skinny. Which is a problem when I’m walking down the street.”
But in her July 2003 interview with Barbara Walters on 20/20, Jolie responded to Walters’ question of whether Jolie considered herself “bisexual” with a response that was both characteristically forthright and deliberately undefined: “I consider myself a very sexual person who loves who she loves, whatever sex they may be.”
Tian Kitchen from the CBS reality series The Amazing Race 4 gave a similarly ambiguous response when asked how she defined her sexuality in an interview with AfterEllen.com, saying “The way I feel about my sexuality is that I am open to finding my soul mate from whomever it may come from.”
In another interview, with The Dallas Voice, Kitchen indicated even more discomfort with the label when pressed as to whether she considered herself bisexual: “I guess so. I don’t do labels on stuff. I don’t know what my sexuality would be called—but it wouldn’t be called heterosexual either.”
Many of these women have never actually had a relationship with a woman. “I have never had a girlfriend but I’ve dated,” Kitchen told the Dallas Voice. “I don’t know what form the love of my life is going to come in. I’m open to that.”
Mullally made a similar statement to The Advocate in 1999, saying “I’ve never had a full-on relationship with a woman, just a couple of what I’d term half-assed dalliances, so I haven’t explored it to the degree that I’d like to, but I’ll tell you, I’m open to it. And I don’t have any problem saying that.” Since she met her now-fiance Nick Offerman shortly afterwards, however, it is unlikely she will have an opportunity to explore it further in the near future.
Others, like Alanis Morrisette, Lisa Marie Presley, and former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell have acknowledged previous relationships with women, but are quick to place these firmly in the past. Presley even went so far as to say on The Howard Stern Show in April 2003 that although she could have a relationship with a woman again, she tries to keep that impulse in check.
Barrymore told New Woman “when I was younger I used to go out with a lot of women,” but then she added “I don’t think I could ever just solely be with a woman…It’s just not enough for me.”
In fact, of all of these celebrities acknowledging their attraction to both genders, only Angelina Jolie has both had a relationship with a woman in the past (actress/model Jenny Shimizu in 1996) and expressed an interest in dating women in the future. “If I fell in love with a woman tomorrow, would I, you know, feel that it’s OK and it’s right to want to kiss her and touch her if I fell in love with her in that way?” she said on 20/20. “Yeah.”