Lohan's recently released
faux eHarmony profile
is perhaps the most brilliant 90 seconds in the young
actor's career. She simultaneously manages to poke fun at
herself, her relationship with Sam Ronson, and eHarmony -- a
homophobic dating website that would never allow her to post an
ad looking for a "man or a woman."
But when I posted a
link to the video on my Facebook page, I received comments like
"she's young and immature and well -- who cares?"
The answer: I care.
Deeply. And so should anyone who's concerned with the future of
queer rights and visibility in the United States.
It can't be stated
strongly enough: Lindsay Lohan is unlike any other LGBT
celebrity to come before her. She's young, she's beautiful,
she's A-list -- and at the top of her career, she began
publicly dating a woman. This is not the coy
"maybe/maybe-not" game that other young celebs have played,
or the outing of a former star. It's worlds beyond the
occasional kiss or the admission of having "dated women in
the past," which until now was the most radical truth that
Hollywood stars would own up to.
While never choosing a
label and avoiding public statements, Lindsay Lohan lived her
relationship with Sam Ronson in the public eye almost exactly,
one feels, as she would have had she not been famous. They
partied, they made out, they fought, they bought groceries. And
yes, I read about it every time. Not just because I love
gossip, but because Lindsay Lohan is both representative of and
at the forefront of an important cultural shift in the way
sexuality plays out in the public sphere. She is the first of a
new post-identity wave.
And it is this same
wave that is helping to win the fight for same-sex marriage --
as well as other queer issues like adoption by same-sex
parents, hate-crimes bills, and discrimination protections. In
the aftermath of the Prop. 8 vote in California, an important
set of data came out: 63% of voters ages 18 to 29 rejected the
initiative, but 54% of voters 45 to 64 supported
If that's not a
generational shift, then what is?
It's not to say that
time alone makes change, but instead that the work of
organizers, radicals, and individuals brave enough to come out
and educate those around them accrues over time. Lindsay is the
flowering of the queer movement in this country: She has not
attempted to sanitize or hide her life for anyone. She's queer,
she's messy, she's had problems with drugs and alcohol, she
gets dressed up and flashes her shit, she fights with her
girlfriend (sometimes publicly) -- frankly, she sounds like a
lot of people I know.
The more honest she is
about her sexuality, the more it creates the normalized
expectation among young people that sexuality is not a big
deal. Of course, there is a danger in this, because violence
and discrimination are still the norm for many queer people --
especially those who are not white, beautiful, rich, young,
Now is not the time to
pat ourselves on the back and believe that we live in a
post-homophobic world. But this new attitude offers a deep well
of potential for taking the queer movement in a radical
direction. In the post-identity future, where same-sex desire
is less likely to be an inherently radicalizing identity, we
must find a way to continue to be relevant.
The issue of marriage
has long been a divisive one in the queer community. Some see
it as the final frontier to equality; others as a misguided
move toward assimilation and away from more important issues,
such as housing discrimination or escalating violence against
Personally, I'm not
invested in marriage. I think discrimination is wrong, but why
should the government give tax benefits to citizens
based on relationship status? When marriage is tied to
important freedoms like citizenship, keeping families together,
and health care, I can understand the appeal. I'd simply prefer
to decouple these benefits from marriage. But that's
another fight, one we're not likely to have soon.
But in a world where
more people can be honest about their sexuality, and marriage
equality seem like an increasingly obvious civil rights issue,
perhaps we can one day move on to these greater issues.
With Lindsay, of
course, leading the way.