Carol Leifer on the LAM
BY Rachel Dowd
May 12 2009 12:00 AM ET
Carol Leifer is hard to pigeonhole. That's strange when you consider the former Seinfeld writer is a 52-year-old lesbian Jewish stand-up comedian from Long Island. That should be pretty easy to peg. But Leifer likes to mix it up. She's amassed an impressive résumé producing or writing for The Larry Sanders Show , Saturday Night Live, and The Ellen Show (post-coming out). She's headlined her own HBO specials, appeared on The Tonight Show (with both Johnny Carson and Jay Leno), Late Night With David Letterman , and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, and in March released her first book, When You Lie About Your Age, the Terrorists Win . Oh, and she used to be straight -- married to a man, dated Paul Reiser and Jerry Seinfeld, straight. Here, Leifer talks about the evolution to gay, being a lesbian mom, and why getting older isn't such a bad thing.
Advocate.com: So you turn 40, and like a co-ed in college, suddenly have the desire for a lesbian fling. I'm suspicious. Carol Leifer: It wasn't just a desire, it was urgent. And I think in retrospect, maybe it was my sexuality saying, "We need to go in a different direction. That needs to happenâ€¦now." But I did go into it thinking this would be a fun fling and a great story and brief. The last thing I expected was to fall in love with this person [partner Lori Wolf] and be sitting here almost 13 years later and have a child together.
Lori initially said that she didn't want to be your midlife sex-ed experiment. When do you think she knew that you weren't going back to the other side?It took a while before we knew this was something that was going to stick. It was really big adjustments on both sides, because I had to reconcile myself now as a gay person. I didn't expect this experience to redefine me and have this profound impact on my life. So I had to adjust to that and Lori had to adjust to that too. I give Lori a lot of credit for hanging in there with me. Getting involved with a woman who has never had a relationship with a woman before is a really risky, scary thing.
Did you have to reconcile how society was going to see you as a gay person or how you saw yourself?Both. It's very weird going from being in the majority for most of your life to, oh, now I'm part of the minority. Now I can see what it's like to be hated and what it's like not to be equal. I know what it's like to not have someone hate you purely because you are in love with someone of the same sex. I think I have that much more empathy and passion for the cause now. I've been on the other side, which is like, Hey, you want to get married? Let's run to Vegas, it'll take three seconds and nobody cares. And then there was coming out to my parents.