A more open and accepting climate in Hollywood makes it possible for gay actors to come out unlike any previous time in film history.
But the question has to be asked: Is the latest trend a true expression of sexuality?
Or, are celebrities like Miley, Rihanna and others merely using lesbianism as one more publicity tool, a way to express hipster coolness and nonconformity?
Celebrity Lesbianism: You’re In, If You’re Out
Here are notable celebrities in entertainment and media who have come out as bi-sexual or lesbians in Hollywood’s new permissive climate.
Robin Roberts: Roberts, co-host ABC’s “Good Morning America” came out last month after living with another woman Amber Laign, for more than a decade.
Maria Bello: Bello, 46, best known for her role as Dr. Anna Del Amico on the NBC medical drama ER, revealed last November that she has been in a relationship with social activist Clare Munn.
Michelle Rodriguez: Rodriguez, 35, best known for her role in the Fast & Furious movies, came out last October. She’s now in a relationship with model and socialite Cara Delevingne.
Chely Wright: Country singer-songwriter Wright, 46, came out in 2010. The conservative country music industry has embraced her.
Anna Paquin:Paquin 31, revealed she is bi-sexual during a 2010 campaign on behalf of Cyndi Lauper’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender equality group.
Meredith Baxter: Baxter, 66, best known for her role as Michael J. Fox’s mom in the sit-com “Family Ties” came out in 2009, after three failed marriages.
Wanda Sykes: Comedian Sykes, 49, revealed her sexuality after the passage of Proposition 8 in California in 2008.
Jodie Foster: Foster, 51, a closeted gay for most of her life, came out in 2007. She has since split from her long-time partner Cydney Bernard, with whom she has two sons.
Lindsay Lohan: Lohan, 27, dated a string of celebrity men before she engaged in a stormy relationship with UK DJ Samantha Ronson She’s been dating mostly men recently.
Portia de Rossi: de Rossi, 40, led a closeted life until 2005. She’s now married to Ellen deGeneres.
Cynthia Nixon: Nixon, 47, started dating Christine Marinoni in 2004 and came out two years later in a magazine interview.
Ellen DeGeneres: DeGeneres, 56, broke down barriers when she came out on the cover of Time magazine in 1997. But her admission effectively killed her popular television sit-com the following year, after her character, the first lesbian on television, came out as well.
Jane Lynch: Lynch, 53, best known for her role on the hit show “Glee,” has been openly gay since 2005.
Kelly McGillis:McGillis, 56, was a bombshell opposite Tom Cruise in their movie Top Gun. She came out in 2009.
If it’s the latter, it begs another question: Is the trend ultimately demeaning to, and exploitative of, the gay and lesbian community?
Historically, of course, entertainment and homosexuality have been an explosive mix. The Sapphic affairs of ’30s and ’40s stars like Marlene Dietrich, Tallulah Bankhead and Garbo Garbo, were notorious, open secrets.
But Hollywood’s moral code tightened considerably following World War II.
In the 1950s, Confidential magazine, a period scandal sheet, had a field day outing actors and actresses. Rock Hudson, James Dean, Tab Hunter, Marlon Brando and other closeted gays lived in fear their careers would be ruined.
In fact, Hudson’s agent, the legendary Henry Willson once pointedly said: “No two men can live together and have a career in Hollywood.”
Even less was said about actresses. To this day, debate rages over whether such stars as Barbara Stanwyck, Ava Gardner, Lana Turner, Katharine Hepburn and others were lesbian or bi-sexual. Some claim even Marilyn Monroe was a closeted gay.
While homosexuality is much more accepted in Hollywood today, evidenced by so many actors and actresses who have come out, there’s still a hint of taboo and a price to pay.
Anne Heche nearly ruined her career as a lead actress when she revealed her lesbianism. Now, she’s back to dating men. She’s not alone; many openly gay actors and actresses now find themselves pigeon-holed as gay characters.
Cyrus is no stranger to switch-hitting. She started going through her girl-on-girl stage in 2010. Even then, though, actress Evan Rachel Wood drew fire from her fans for joking on Twitter: “I called it! Miley Cyrus is leaning toward gay.”
At the time, Miley heated denied it. Now, she openly flaunts her supposed bi-sexuality. And, she’s not alone.
Wood, Anna Paquin, Kristanna Loken, Lindsay Lohan, Aubrey O’Day, Angelina Jolie, Amber Heard and Megan Fox have all at one time or another professed to be bi-sexual. From the music industry, add Fergie, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Chely Wright and others.
In the gay community, bisexuals have sometimes been branded as greedy or illegitimate, according to Emily Dievendorf, Director of Policy, Equality Michigan, writing in the HuffingtonPost.
Sex and the City’s Cynthia Nixon, now openly gay, was repelled by the term “bi-sexual,” because it connotes an “ugly stereotype” in the gay community, Divendorf noted.
But these days bi-sexuality is becoming more-and-more like a tattoo. Seems like almost everyone has one… or is one.
Say hello to lesbian chic.