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F4M? F4F?

F4M? F4F?


Celeb mags are all agog: Lindsay is either lesbian, bisexual, or just another straight girl engaged in an elaborate -- albeit genius -- publicity stunt. But really, what difference does it make?

It used to be so easy to psychoanalyze Lindsay Lohan. All the trappings of young fame were right there: the box office successes, the forgettable pop music, the overbearing stage mother, the troubled father, and a revolving door of famous boy toys who kept her company as her heady Hollywood life spiraled out of control. The shock we felt as she squandered our goodwill with stints in rehab, cocaine-fueled car crashes, paparazzi shots of her bare crotch, and an increasingly irritable demeanor was warranted -- after all, wasn't this cute young thing from Long Island supposed to be the antithesis of a celebutard? But it was never easy to look away, and after a while it started to feel as if she didn't want us to.

We've obliged: We're still watching Lindsay Lohan's story unfold, thanks to the battalion of tabloid magazines and celebrity-oriented websites that routinely trample the boundaries between keeping tabs on her diminished career and chronicling her every waking moment. In the past year, we've watched as she's taken up what appears to be a serious relationship with 31-year-old DJ Samantha Ronson, an out lesbian. And here's where it gets interesting: Lohan, one of the preeminent young starlets of her generation, seems to have entered into this same-sex relationship with little to no fallout. What does it say about evolving attitudes in the media -- and among the public at large--that Lindsay Lohan is suddenly living lesbian and the news has barely caused a stir?

The press has covered Lindsay and Samantha's union with almost unheard-of restraint. After months of media speculation about their ongoing outings -- using code words and phrases like "inseparable companions," "more than just friends," "BFFs," and "gal pals" -- People magazine has finally gone full-bore with a two-page spread devoted to the couple in its August 4 issue headlined lindsay in love. The article -- featuring five pictures of the duo variously holding hands, blowing kisses, and beaming as they share ice-cream cones -- all but confirms their status as lovebirds, even if Lohan and Ronson have yet to do so themselves: More than a year after they were first spotted club-hopping, neither woman has publicly commented on the exact nature of their relationship. Their obfuscation has only been magnified by comments from Lohan's press-happy family. Her father, Michael, told the New York Daily News in May, "Lindsay's life choices are up to her." Her mother, Dina, spent months refuting the rumors but appeared to backtrack in July when she told reporters, "They're great friends, and as long as my daughter is happy and healthy, it is what it is."

But what exactly is it? The breathless rush to judgment that accompanied recent high-profile celebrity closet cleanings -- Lance Bass, T.R. Knight, Neil Patrick Harris -- is strangely absent in this case, and we're left to fill in the blanks. In lieu of spoken confirmation, the press has relied on photographic evidence (and reporters' own accounts) to justify coverage of the relationship. The blogosphere, on the other hand, has been predictably catty and small-minded: Titans like Perez Hilton have engaged in juvenile name-calling ("LezLo" and "SaMAN Ronson" receive an inordinate amount of coverage on his website), though even he seems discombobulated by the whole affair. Hilton was himself a major catalyst behind Bass's, Knight's, and Harris's eventual public coming-out statements, but he hasn't pushed nearly as hard this time. He seems to view the pairing as something of a joke--again with those nicknames -- and represents a group of cynics (and there are many) who have openly insinuated that Lindsay's relationship is nothing more than a brazen publicity stunt. Even if that's the case, what is her end goal? If it's to keep herself in the public eye after a string of personal and professional embarrassments, she's gotten her way. But the playful same-sex female dalliance no longer packs the shock value it once did--at least not in a lasting sense. It's been decades since Madonna stepped out with gal pals like Sandra Bernhard and Ingrid Casares, and her overhyped on-screen make-out session with Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears is now just another silly career footnote. More than that, the public is growing accustomed to the sight of glowing, committed lesbian partners like Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels, Cynthia Nixon and Christine Marinoni, and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. Lindsay and another girl? Yeah, so what?

It's possible that Lindsay Lohan is bisexual and doesn't care who knows it. Society -- and a multibillion-dollar porn industry -- has long held the idea that a little girl-on-girl action is more palatable than two dudes sneaking around. That double standard is only magnified when it comes to high-profile names -- just imagine the fallout if Justin Timberlake were suddenly spotted snogging a "good friend" like Pharrell Williams, Ashton Kutcher, or Zac Efron. We'd never hear the end of it.

Lohan is a strange case: At age 22 she already has an impressively long (if not entirely impressive) list of male exes, but none of them ever seemed like the kind of stable, attached-at-the-hip companion Ronson has quickly become. Press accounts often trumpet their playful, protective, "I'd die without you" bond, which is hardly surprising when you consider their backgrounds. Like Lohan, Samantha Ronson was exposed to a hypersexualized, anything-goes celebrity culture from an early age. One of professional gadabout Ann Dexter-Jones's five children, she grew up in recording studios and on tour with her stepfather, Foreigner guitarist Mick Jones. She's been a club fixture for nearly a decade. It's not hard to imagine that their seemingly unshakable commitment is just as much about the ease with which they can commiserate over their outsize tales of adolescence--or lack thereof -- as it is about actual physical attraction. Because in their own fascinating way, these two party-loving daughters of scamps and socialites have turned away from their headline-hogging families to create a uniquely workable unit, not unlike any number of young, impressionable women who team up, Thelma & Louise-style, as they try to figure out their place in the world. As a friend of this reporter said, "Eh, she's just having her sophomore-year-in-college moment."

Is she, though? Or could it be that Lindsay Lohan is a lesbian? The only way we'll ever know is if Lindsay herself lifts the cone of silence and starts talking to more than just the paparazzi who follow her incessantly. So far, that's not looking likely: Lohan's rep confirmed that OK! magazine had approached the star with an offer for a cover story and that she passed. Nor is it looking all that important, based on the public's generally nonchalant reaction. For every person who wants a categorically sound answer, there are 10 more who simply don't give a whit. (Rolling Stone's opinion? "At least she's not downing a bottle of schnapps!") Because let's be honest: It's grown pretty hard to muster much excitement--or, conversely, indignation--when a song like "I Kissed a Girl" can dominate the singles charts for weeks on end, when photos of Miley Cyrus and female friends playing kissy-face surface on a regular basis, and when the most prominent lesbian in America dances with jolly women in "mom jeans" on television every weekday morning. And that may be why Lindsay Lohan isn't saying anything at all. The pictures, the public canoodling, the matching rings and bracelets, the hickeys, the tabloid reports of nights out at gay bars, and reports of Lindsay's defiant tirade against potential romantic interlopers like Ashley Olsen (!) -- they're all right there, ready for your interpretation. And Lindsay has stopped denying a lick of it. Maybe her mother was right. Maybe it just is what it is. And maybe the joke's on us for thinking that we should care.

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Nicholas Fonseca