Sharon Gless as Hannah Free: At last, she’s a lesbian

This summer, some friends on a Rosie cruise sent me a text early on the first day.

“Guess who we just met in the bathroom?”

Rosie? Kelli? Julie Goldman? That chick from Annie?”

Sharon Gless.”

“Wait. She’s not gay.”

“I don’t think she cares.”

And that, friends, is exactly why we love Sharon Gless.

Gless is a lesbian icon. From Cagney & Lacey days, when all of us had slash-fiction fantasies whether we wrote them down or not, through playing Michael’s mom Deb on Queer as Folk, to her latest turn as the annoying-but-lovable Madeline on Burn Notice, whenever Sharon Gless is on a show, lesbians are watching.

Instead of getting all nervous about it and taking out full-page ads asserting her heterosexuality, though, Gless slicks back her hair, puts on a tux and shows up at the GLAAD awards.

Or hangs with hot TV lesbians.

Or she goes on R-Family Vacation cruises and patiently poses for pictures with lesbians in the restroom.

Now, finally, Gless will play a lesbian in the new independent feature Hannah Free.

The film tells the story of Hannah and Rachel, who grew up — and fell in love — in a small Midwest town in which same-sex relationships were unacceptable. While Hannah (Gless) becomes an outspoken, unapologetic lesbian, Rachel (Maureen Gallagher) marries a man and becomes a homemaker. The story flashes between past and present to recount how the women maintained their lifelong love affair, culminating in Hannah’s fight to see her partner one last time in a nursing home.

The movie is based on Claudia Allen’s popular play of the same name. Hannah Free begins shooting in Chicago in November and should be ready for release in 2009.

I’m ready to buy a ticket now. Are you as excited as I am?

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