Lindsay Lohan was at the height of her acting career in the mid-2000s when she began a relationship with DJ Samantha Ronson. Although it was only speculated for some time, Lindsay first confirmed their romance in September 2008 while a guest on the radio show Loveline. And even though it was only six years ago, this was huge news. Lindsay was a child actress turned teen star turned party girl whose Mean Girls success had made her a household name. And after dating a few high profile men, she was in a relationship with a woman.
Though the relationship did not work out, Lindsay has been celebrated as an out woman, despite saying she does not consider herself bisexual. This weekend she explained this to Piers Morgan during an interview published today in The Daily Mail.
This could be Lindsay’s truth — I’m not doubting that. But the disparaging thing about the way she discusses her sexuality is that it aligns with a lot of myths about bisexuals and queer women in general. First, she implies that she chose to be with Samantha over being alone; that companionship was the sole purpose rather than any care or love that was a part of their being together. Second, that her sexual orientation is something that can be turned on or off when convenient. Third, that being with a woman was a phase — an “experience” that is had and then moved past.
Celebrities like Lindsay are often treated as unofficial spokespeople and when they are part of our community, what they say about sexuality can directly affect how anyone who knows little about LGBTs think about us. Lindsay Lohan may only be speaking about her own preferences and ideas about love and relationships, but, sadly, she’s a voice that is heard above others because she is popular tabloid fodder. She might not be seen as the most credible source as of late, with her personal issues of substance abuse and dependency being made quite public, but renouncing her sexuality or discrediting her relationship with Samantha ends up lending homophobes and the ex-gay movement some unintended legitimacy.
It’s interesting, though, because when is someone “no longer” bisexual? This is something that happens on television often with female characters who have a relationship with a woman and later return to men, never mentioning their pasts again (i.e. Angela on Bones, Adrianna on 90210). The real life impact is that bisexuals are often left out of important studies, statistics and funding. In short, they become invisible. The San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Report “Bisexual Invisibility: Impacts and Recommendations” stated that “bisexual people experience greater health disparities than the broader population, including a greater likelihood of suffering from depression and mood anxiety disorders.” They also found that “bisexuals have higher rates of hypertension, poor or fair physical health, smoking, and risky drinking than heterosexuals or lesbians/gays.”
Does Lindsay Lohan’s saying she’s straight have an affect on these stats? Maybe not, but it sure doesn’t help. She might not identify as a bisexual person, but to say she is “straight” is to put the rest of her back into the closet.