The Portia de Rossi Guide to Public Relations

 
 

Later,
they continued to ignore requests for interviews, but kept
appearing in public. And since then, they’ve kept on appearing.
And kept on ignoring. Appearing. Ignoring. Appearing. Ignoring.
And all the while, they have continued to look cozy, in love, and
best of all, oblivious to what all the fuss is about.

The
truth is, the fuss over their
relationship has never reached anything like the kind of fever pitch
you’d get if you called a press conference or appeared on a chat
show to formally warble to the whole world that you’re a lesbian.
And yet, everyone knows that they are together. How can that be?

"It
sounds so trite, but my private life is mine," Portia told
an Australian newspaper in May. "When you have the paparazzi
hiding in the bushes outside your home, about the only thing you
can control is how you respond publicly. When I hear celebrities
talking about their marriages or other things that are intensely
personal, I cringe. I just think, ‘Keep it to yourself’. It’s like
desperate attention-seeking."

In
terms of their relationship being a marketable commodity, right
now it’s almost as if they’ve got the media on a leash. Anne Heche’s
emotional acrobatics of several years ago, were easy to write about,
and the media interest in Anne/Ellen shifted plenty of papers back
in the day, despite many people not even knowing who Anne was until
she dated Ellen DeGeneres.

But
what about Portia? By comparison, her star was already burning more
brightly at the time of her public relationship with a woman, with
her role on Ally McBeal
making her one of the Top 10 Earning Australian Entertainers of
2001, rating 7th, ahead of such names as Kylie Minogue, Cate Blanchett
and even Nicole Kidman according to the Australian
business magazine BRW Magazine.

Anyone
currently looking to generate a quick
buck from a headline about her cannot prefix Portia’s name as "Lesbian
Portia de Rossi!" because they don’t even know if she is a
lesbian. Because is she a lesbian? Is she bisexual? Or is she simply
a woman who happens to be in love with another woman?

Instead,
most media reports now refer to her as "Portia de Rossi, and
her girlfriend" or "Portia de Rossi and her partner"
or just plain "Portia de Rossi and Francesca Gregorini."
All of which are longer, and none of which leap out of the morning
paper and make people drop their toast in quite the same way that
the word "lesbian!" does, especially coupled with words
like "confession!"

The
end result is that Portia and Francesca are keeping the details
of their relationship private and dignified, but the existence of
their relationship very much public — lulling the media into a new
kind of submission and forcing them and everyone else to accept
their personal lives with a new level of maturity.

Gossip
columns have been plundering celebrity
sexuality for years at the expense of the personal happiness of
famous gay men, lesbians and bisexuals around the world. No doubt
the papers will continue plugging away with new gossip about Portia
and Francesca for a while yet, and there will be more paparazzi
photos of the two women in the future.

But
what is there to write about when a celebrity gives away the equivalent
of their personal punch-line, without actually saying anything remotely
quotable? By the time Portia and Francesca officially come out (if
they ever do) who will care? We already know that they both like
women. And we already know that they are in love. What more do we
need?

I for
one hope that they continue to be exactly who they are — a quiet
inspiration to women everywhere, and a couple of modern chicks who
are so comfortable with themselves and with each other that they
are simply getting on with their lives, and are above the boring
exposés and confessionals of old.

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