2009 Year in Review: Television


Many openly gay women were featured on international reality programming this year as well. Nanna Grundfeldt won Finland’s Next Top Model. Mariette Hansson, a contestant on Sweden Idol, came out. So did Lola Van Vors from Australia’s Next Top Model. And Kate Cook, the self-professed “Harley-riding lez,” made it to the top six on Australian Idol.

It’s interesting to note that gay American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert was forced to stay closeted when the show aired on American television in 2009, while the sexuality of international reality show competitors seemed to be a non-issue.


America may not have been ready to vote for an openly gay reality show contestant in 2009, but the country had no problem turning to lesbians for news and entertainment.

Once again, Ellen DeGeneres‘ daytime talk dominated the air waves. Her on-air quest to land on the cover of O Magazine was one of the highlights of the daytime television season. After many shenanigans Oprah agreed to share the cover with Ellen — for only the second time; the first with with Michelle Obama. She then insisted that Ellen and her wife, Portia de Rossi, join her for a “television event” when they unveiled the magazine covers.

In addition to her talk show’s success, Ellen also guest judged an episode of So You Think You Can Dance, which ultimately led to Fox offering her a job as a permanent judge on American Idol.

Portia enjoyed her share of television visibility this year too. Her freshman comedy, Better Off Ted, was such rating’s success that ABC picked up a full season and subsequently ordered a second.

When she was not working her comedic magic, Portia made a few notable talk show appearances. The first was her joint interview on Oprah. She spoke candidly about coming out, living out, and how she met and fell in love with Ellen.

It took me three years to actually tell her how I felt about her because I was on Ally McBeal at the time, not living as an openly gay person. I was closeted and very very afraid that if I talked about being gay, it would be the end of my career — so I wasn’t about to then date the most famous lesbian in the world.

We met socially and felt an immediate draw. We did talk a little bit and then over those three years we saw each other at parties or various things, but the one time that was the most significant was during a photoshoot. I walked over to say hello to her and, I couldn’t believe it, but she turned around and it was like an arrow shot through my heart. I was weak at the knees, overwhelmed with how I felt. It took me 10 months to do anything about it.

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