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kids and parents. Even when she’s acting a little
nuts, she’s so open and honest that it’s hard not
to love her.
Wanda Sykes talks about being a mom
just like other women celebrities do. That she’s
an African American lesbian legally married
to a French woman never seems to be an
issue. She talks to male talk show hosts about
their wives, and they talk to her about hers.
It’s fabulous. But it happens because she makes
Celebrity isn’t all warm fuzziness,
however. The celebrities who run in and out
of the closet make us feel bad about ourselves
because they can’t accept their true sexuality.
I don’t care that Anne Heche was a lesbian
for five minutes 20 years ago, or that Gillian
Anderson had a lesbian affair in high-school.
I don’t need to hear anything else about Queen
Latifah, Robin Roberts, Janelle Monáe or any
of the other women who are rumoured to
be closet cases but apparently just can’t bring
themselves to open that door. I can no longer
even talk about Lindsay Lohan.
Nor do I need to hear about the straight
actors and musicians who have a lesbian
following but really don’t care about us. Many
women stars play to the lesbian crowd and
then get incensed when we think they are one
of us. I may still love their music, but I’m over
Sarah McLachlan and Ani DiFranco. Michelle
Shocked’s recent homophobic tirade and
Lauryn Hill’s new anti-gay hit knocked the
both of them off my playlist for good.
I took some heat back in January when I
wrote a column about how tiresome I find Jodie
Foster, and how she’s a terrible role model for
young lesbians—or queers of any age.
Heretical, I know. “ But we love Jodie.”
Really? Why? Do you love her refusal to ac-
knowledge anything or anyone queer? Do you
love her best friend, the homophobic, racist,
anti-Semitic wife-abuser Mel Gibson, who
is rumoured to be the father of her children?
Do you like her support for convicted child-
rapist Roman Polanski? Because I don’t love
any of that. And when I hear yet another ram-
bling, self-serving speech in which she plays
games about being a lesbian, I want to just
shake her and tell her to stop manipulating
her queer audience.
But that’s the thing about celebrity—these
people aren’t our friends. They’re stars. They’re
an elite class. They don’t have to do anything
they don’t want to do, because they have more
money than God and just as much access.
So why do we give them such power over us?
Why do we spend so much time paying attention
to what they say and do—or won’t say and
I’ve been privileged to have some exchanges
with Roseanne Barr on Twitter. I admit I was
pretty thrilled that she noticed me, and was
talking to me and favouriting my tweets. I was
impressed that she’d read my recent writings
on rape, which admittedly have gone viral, but
still—she’s Roseanne Barr!
I’ve been watching Roseanne for what seems
like my whole adult life. She’s funny, smart and
politically astute. I love it that she doesn’t give a
fuck what people think or say about her. I love it
that she ran for president.
That she has thousands of followers and
responded to me was exciting. I had a fan-girl
moment. But why was I swooning over her
and telling my friends about it? Why was I so
thrilled that this famous woman was reaching
out to me?
Because, like everyone else, I’m drawn to
celebrity. And when celebrities turn out to be
people who don’t care if they are talking to
someone in their own super-famous sphere or
someone way lower on the pole of fame, that
validates my fan-ish love for them.
Likewise, the cringe-worthy speech Foster
gave at the Golden Globes does the opposite:
makes me feel like the fan-girl love and
support is misguided and misplaced.
But how fair is that? Jodie Foster is, after
all, just another 50-year-old lesbian with issues.
Don’t we all know plenty of real-life women like
her? Do I find her tiresome precisely because
I know so many women like her—women who
are still mostly in the closet, even though every-
one knows they’re gay and they’re old enough
that they really shouldn’t care about such things?
I expect more from celebrities than I do from
the lesbian down the block. I expect them to be
out, to be activists, to be role models. I expect
them to give some of their big bucks to queer
causes. I expect them to reach out to queer kids
and feed them the “it gets better” line, even
though I find it incredibly deceptive.
When I think back on the magic of Tony
night, what I recall is feeling one with the
celebrities. Feeling like I could have been Billy
Porter, or been friends with Cyndi Lauper. The
way they and the other stars spoke that night
made me feel included and embraced, loved
That’s what I want from my celebrities. But
I also want to see that in my celebrities: I want
to know that they aren’t self-loathing queers or
closet homophobes, but that they accept them-
selves for who they are and accept us—their
audience—for who we are.
What I want is for every night to be Tony
night, where everyone acts like queer is just part
of our world—and should be.
Like Lauper, they should think of me as
their people. Otherwise, they don’t deserve my
fan-girl moments. Or yours.
Follow Victoria A. Brownworth on Twitter:
I expect more
from celebrities than
I do from the lesbian
down the block. I expect
them to be out, to be
activists, to be role
models. I expect them
to give some of their
big bucks to
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