Keeley Hawes: still delectable, but not bisexual

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Late last year, I wrote a blog post talking about my longstanding admiration
for Tipping the Velvet actress Keeley Hawes. In the
post, I mentioned a teasingly brief quote that had been attributed to
her by the British lesbian magazine Diva, whom she spoke to while
promoting Tipping. Of the Sarah Waters adaptation, she
had said that:

"It’s true to the book.
Except for a slight change at the end. And I completely related to Kitty
[her character]. Well not completely, because I’m not a lesbian. I’m
bi."

Even at the time, I was a bit
suspicious about this statement — which apparently was not followed
up by the interviewer. If Hawes seriously identified as bisexual, then
didn’t it seem a bit surprising that she wouldn’t want to elaborate
at all to a lesbian magazine — while promoting a lesbian project —
about what that meant to her?

Well, a new interview was out
with Hawes in last week’s edition of the Radio Times (the British
equivalent of TV Guide) — and unfortunately, it seems like my
suspicions were justified. In the article, titled “Keeley on the Couch,”
which promotes her new show Ashes to Ashes, reporter Andrew Duncan
asks Hawes to clarify the bisexual comment:

When she made Tipping
the Velvet
, as a male impersonator, she’s reported as saying she
was bisexual. [Said Hawes,] “Maybe what I meant is that everyone is a little bit
bisexual. I’ve been married twice, both times to men.”

Aaaaaaahhhh. Can I
just send a note to Hawes — and to Megan Mullally and Nelly Furtado, who are also women in the public
eye who have claimed they are bisexual only to take it back later (two
weeks later, in Furtado’s case)? While I’m reasonably sure that
you mean well — there are some of us out here for whom the words “I’m
bisexual” actually mean “I might want to date women.” If you don’t
want to date women, could you maybe consider not using the words “I’m
bisexual”?

Or at least — if you have
a very broad definition of bisexuality that includes “wanting to hold
my straight female friend’s hand platonically while we’re shopping
and talking about men” — could you maybe consider specifying that
at the time that you make your statement? Because otherwise, people
who don’t define bisexuality the same way you do might start to get
ever so slightly confused.

I appreciate that human sexuality
is complex. I appreciate that labels don’t always capture that complexity.
But the eventual retractions from Hawes, Mullally and Furtado don’t
really make me feel like they are sexually ambiguous women struggling
to find a way to define their complex feelings. They make me feel (to
put a charitable interpretation on it) like they are straight women
who were trying to show their support for the queer community, and got
carried away.

As a bisexual woman, there’s
really just one thing I want to say to them: Don’t. Please don’t.
Seriously, we have enough trouble as it is trying to convince the lesbians
that we aren’t all out to toy with their hearts before inevitably
dumping them for a man. And we have enough trouble as it is trying to
convince both the lesbian and the straight communities that we aren’t
just confused, indecisive idiots who don’t really know who or what
we want.

If you’re a straight woman
and you want to make a contribution to the queer community, try sending
some money to a gay rights charity. Meanwhile, I’ll remain grateful
for out bisexual celebrities like Kristanna Loken, who show that bisexuality can actually
be a genuine, stable orientation that you maintain — irrespective
of whether you wind up with a man or a woman.

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