The Portia de Rossi Guide to Public Relations

When
Portia de Rossi and Francesca Gregorini
were first photographed together by the paparazzi in
2001 quietly canoodling in an alleyway, it was impossible
not to have mixed feelings about their sudden exposure to public
view.

On
the one hand of course, it was wonderful news — a famous and beautiful
actress, and the sassy rock-singer daughter of a Bond girl (and
step-daughter of a Beatle, no less), together. In love! The celebrity
lesbian-couple void left by the very public Anne/Ellen and Melissa/Julie
breakdowns was all but forgotten. And so too perhaps, were the smug
grins on the faces of those who cheered their fall, eager to delude
themselves that lesbian couples, as a rule, couldn’t last.

But
on the other hand, the sickening
headlines that accompanied many of those first photos of Portia
and Francesca, where words such as "caught!" and "exposed!"
were liberally splashed across the pages (as if pictures of two
women hugging and kissing represented something illegal) reminded
us all that as long as there is a sense of shock felt by some around
same-sex relationships, sections of the press will gladly exploit
it every time and for every penny it is worth.

However,
since those initial revelations about Portia and Francesca, the
two women have conducted themselves and their relationship with
a level of dignity and grace that has, possibly, re-written the
book on how to be publicly in love with someone of the same gender.

Not
that there ever really was a book.

In
years gone by, there seems to have been only two alternatives
for a lesbian celebrity to take when it came to balancing her public
life with the media’s relentless and often provocative curiosity
about her sexuality and love life.

1) Go completely public, in front of all the cameras, and declare
"I’m a lesbian!" in the hope that by blowing the secret
wide open, the world will respect your honesty and leave you alone.

or

2)
Go completely into hiding, refusing to ever talk about your love
life in interviews, and keeping your partner so hidden from public
view that many people will have doubts (right until the bitter end)
as to who you love. Or whether you even have a love life.

But
Portia and Francesca have approached things
a little differently — a kind-of hybrid method of the old ways. As
anyone knows, love is not always a feeling that can be kept a secret,
nor is it usually able to withstand the intense scrutiny of the
public spotlight.

After
the news first hit the airwaves, Portia and Francesca seemed to
ignore all requests for interviews that might involve questions
about their relationship. But they also began to appear together
in public, with a complete lack of fuss, holding hands and wearing
engagement-type rings on their left ring fingers.

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