When I first saw Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap I thought, Man, that’s one ugly kid; she’s never going to make the transition into an adult star. I thought the same thing about Alyson Hannigan (back before Buffy and How I Met Your Mother made her a star) and Seth Green (long before Austin Powers and his funny upcoming TV series, Dads). I realize now I’m not great at determining who’ll make that jump from cute kid to successful adult Hollywood star, and that I’ve clearly got some weird bias against freckle-faced, redheaded children.
Seth and Alyson are on the top of my love ’em list today, and I have to admit that Lindsay is too. She actually grew on me, and by Mean Girls I was quasi-fascinated.
Years later, when Lindsay began an on-again off-again, in-the-tabloids-way too-often relationship with Samantha Ronson, I was thrilled. Not with the antics and turbulent nature of their relationship, but with the idea that there was a bankable, A-list actress who was conventionally beautiful, young, feminine, a sex symbol, and who was hopefully ready to tell the world she was lesbian or bisexual.
But it didn’t quite happen. I spent years trying earnestly to get her to talk to me. I’m a fairly spirited celebrity skirt-chaser, and many women have come out to me on record as something other than straight, from Angelina Jolie to Sinéad O’Connor. It’s what I love to do, because when celebrities come out it can have a huge impact on American cultural values. Celebrities are our royalty, for better or worse, and having our icons we identify with identify their whole selves makes life easier for every LGBT person.
But I couldn’t report on the relationship or her orientation until she was ready to come out (my boss’s rule about not outing; for the record I’m fine with outing). Knowing that one of Hollywood’s hottest young stars had joined our team or was at least batting for both teams was good news I was eager to share.
And then it never really happened. Last month she talked to Piers Morgan in the Daily Mail, and he tried to pin her down by asking if she thought she was bisexual. “Not really. I like being in a relationship with a guy,” she told him. “But there’s something just different about it with a woman. When I was with Samantha, I didn’t want to leave, because I didn’t want to be alone. It was very toxic. And her family controlled anything she did.”
Sure, she admits she was in love with Samantha Ronson and still loves her as a person, but she’s straight, she says. “I have made out with girls before, and I had a relationship with a girl. But I think I needed to experience that and I think I was looking for something different.”
The media of course had a field day, even the LGBT media, which reacted with shock and recrimination. While few would find it acceptable to point to Chris Brown and Rihanna’s relationship and say that all women will eventually reunite with their batterers, many public figures and everyday folks looked to Lindsay as further proof that all bisexual women prefer men (or are tramps, can’t be monogamous, will always leave you for the opposite sex, don’t know what they want, or it was just that dreaded thing all our parents pointed to — a phase).
“I think that a lot of LGBT people and media tend to blame female celebrities when they say or do something that fits in with biphobic stereotypes,” says Shiri Eisner, author of the brilliant new book Bi: Notes for a Revolution. “But it’s important to remember that these celebrities did not create the stereotypes themselves and are not to blame for perpetuating them. The media gets to pick and choose what kind of bisexual women appear and which statements get more publicity. One of the ‘rules’ for bisexual women in the mainstream media is that you can only get publicity if your bisexuality can be perceived as ‘not real,’ ‘just a phase,’ ‘really straight,’ etc. The fact is that the mainstream media isn’t interested in bi women speaking politically about bisexuality — it’s only interested in perpetuating the stereotypes and therefore spotlights whoever can assist in reinforcing that.”