Ilene Chaiken talks about lesbian icons and being a mom

In an interview with Parent Dish, L Word creator/lesbian mom Ilene Chaiken talked about who she could look up to as a lesbian icon when she was growing up. Although she notes they were pretty much invisible in the ’60s and ’70s, one of Charlie’s Angels stood out to her:

Kate Jackson was, by some definitions, kind of butch.

She also said that Kristy McNichol and Jodie Foster have served as icons, nothing that she’s not sure that Foster ever officially came out.

I know I’ve read things in the last several years that vaguely seem to acknowledge her relationships, such as they are, but I don’t know if she’s ever officially come out.

And who else is an icon that didn’t really have a coming out party yet?

Peppermint Patty was a total dyke! I’m sure I’ve met women in my life who reminded me of Peppermint Patty more than anybody else.

But mostly Ilene had thoughts on being a parent to daughters Augusta and Tallulah, whose other mother is Chaiken’s ex Miggi Hood.

I have 15-year-old twin girls. I’m remarkably lucky because I have amazing kids. Without going into too much detail, they’re great kids, sweet and bright and very teenage. I haven’t had to deal with that awful thing that so many of my friends go through with their teenage daughters. My daughters don’t seem to hate their mothers and they’re not vile to us.

We are also helped in that because they are in boarding school in England. Their other mother is English and grew up in boarding school and it’s very much a part of her life and whole ethos. My girls chose it, they felt like it sounded like a cool thing to do and it’s proving to be a great thing. And I think when your kids are away at boarding school they kind of love the time with you more.

On critics who say gay people shouldn’t raise children:

It’s nonsense. What is there to say? It’s so clearly nonsense. We are all living our lives. Our lives are widely diverse, in no way monolithic. Who are we to judge, other than to hope everyone is leading his or her best life, finding companionship and love, if possible, and not hurting anybody else.

On her daughters having a “male influence” in their lives:

It’s never something we had to think about or strive for. There are men in our lives, there are men in their world and I never feared they were not going to know what a man was or anything like that. My children don’t have a father but I don’t think they lack for men or a male influence.

And on the lesbian community being a hard crowd to please:

It’s a tough community and I think it would take a serious sociologist to analyze the dynamics. I’ve thought about it a lot because I love our community. I love the audience for my shows, which, by the way extends beyond the lesbian community, but sometimes they are the toughest on us and I’m sure there are many reasons. I think once you start getting into it, you can walk into a lot of traps. It absolutely exists. It can be really brutal. For the most part, I’m intrigued and entertained by it and every once in a while I feel slammed by it.

Chaiken with current partner LouAnne Brickhouse

Even if you’re one of her slammers (or just a slammer of the shows she’s worked on), I think it’s intriguing to hear more from Ilene and her views on being a lesbian and on lesbians in entertainment. It can really show you how her vision is shaped, and why she’s so intent on including lesbian moms in the things she does (The Real L Word is actively trying to recruit lesbians trying to get pregnant for the new season).

I wonder if she’ll ever be asked on as a guest of The Talk. Two lesbian moms on one couch? Stranger things have happened.

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