The AfterEllen.com 2008 Visibility Awards

 
 


BEST STRAIGHT ALLY

Jennifer Beals

A longtime supporter of gay rights, Jennifer Beals stepped up her activism this year by speaking out passionately for gay marriage (and stumping for Barack Obama). Her ongoing role as power lesbian Bette Porter on The L Word doesn’t hurt her popularity with readers, either.

Runner-ups: Tina Fey, Keith Olbermann

MOST SURPRISING COMING-OUT

Wanda Sykes

For those who have followed the comedian’s career, or attended even one of her stand-up comedy shows, the fact that Wanda’s gay is no surprise. But it was surprising that she chose to publicly reveal that she’s gay (and married) at a Las Vegas gay rights rally in November.

"I don’t really talk about my sexual orientation," she told the crowd at the Las Vegas GLBT Community Center. But, because of the passing of Proposition 8 in California (which would ban gay marriage), "I gotta get in their face. I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a black woman, and I’m proud to be gay."

Due to a combination of factors, including homophobia within the black community, the fact that it’s already hard enough to get ahead as a black woman in American entertainment (let alone as a gay black woman), and a universal desire for privacy, there are very few openly gay high-profile black women. The fact that most black lesbians chose to stay closeted makes Wanda’s decision to come out all the more inspiring.

LEAST SURPRISING COMING-OUT

Lindsay Lohan

Although Lindsay has not publicly defined her sexual orientation, she joined the queer community when she publicly confirmed her relationship with DJ Samantha Ronson in September, following years of hints and increasingly open displays of affection between them.

Although she remains controversial, Lindsay’s nonchalant confirmation of a lesbian relationship while rejecting a label is nonetheless representative of how many younger women choose to define themselves these days — or rather, don’t.

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