Sure, everybody knows about Portia and Ellen. But there are likely many other fantastic pairings you never knew about or totally forgot about or vaguely remember but not really anymore! THIS IS IMPORTANT HERSTORY.
15 Lesbian Couples Time Forgot
*indicates that one member of the couple has refused to confirm the relationship
1. Tracy Chapman & Alice Walker
The brilliant shy musician Tracy Chapman, who drove a fast car into all of our souls forever, and the legendary Alice Walker, author of The Color Purple, dated in the mid-1990s. Walker spoke to The Guardian about the relationship in 2006:
“Why was it kept so quiet at the time? “It was quiet to you maybe but that’s because you didn’t live in our area,” she answers with a throaty laugh. She has written about the relationship in her journals, which she plans to publish one day.
So why did they decide against using their relationship to make a big social impact like other celebrity lesbian couples, such as Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, have in the past? The idea seems to amuse her. “I would never do that. My life is not to be somebody else’s impact – you know what I mean? And it was delicious and lovely and wonderful and I totally enjoyed it and I was completely in love with her but it was not anybody’s business but ours.”
In 1967, Alice Walker married Melvyn Roseman Leventhal, becoming the first legally married interracial couple in Mississippi, but the two divorced in 1976. Walker told The Globe and Mail in May that she is not heterosexual or gay, just “curious.”
2. Ellen Degeneres & Alexandra Hedison
Before she began engaging in knife-play with Helena Peabody, Alexandra Hedison engaged in loveplay with Ellen DeGeneres, who she met via mutual friends in 2000 after Ellen and Anne Heche broke up. Although she was a cast member of The L Word and played bit parts in Lois & Clark, Melrose Place, Nash Bridges and L.A. Firefighters; Hedison’s primary occupation is photography. She’s also directed an animated film, In the Dog House, and a documentary, The Making of Suit Yourself. They lived together in Ellen’s Hollywood Hills home until December 2004, when the two split up, Heddison moved out, and a “source close to the couple” told The New York Daily News that “it’s difficult for both of them and very sad. They were a private couple, and they hope they can separate privately.” Recently rumors began swirling that Hedison has hooked up with another major lesbian power player – Jodie Foster.
3. Ione Skye & Jenny Shimizu
Bisexual actress Ione Skye (best known for her role in Say Anything) fell for legendary model/actress Jenny Shimizu when they met on the set of Quentin Tarantino’s movie Four Rooms, around the time that Skye’s seven-year marriage with Beastie Boy Adam Horowitz was crumbling into a million little pieces. Skye reportedly admitted, “I guess I was just looking for love. I was reeling, I didn’t know what I wanted. When Adam and I split up, I was making Four Rooms with Madonna. She had this gay entourage. She introduced me to them. And I have to admit, I dallied.” She described Shimizu as “kind of boylike, kind of dykey” with “a great figure.” Clearly, Jenny Shimizu has mad game. I mean she also dated Angelina Jolie. So.
4. Amy Ray & Jennifer Baumgardener
Jennifer Baumgardner, esteemed third-wave feminist activist, former editor of Ms., prolific journalist and author of Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism and the Future, Grassroots: A Field Guide for Feminist Activism and Look Both Ways: Bisexual Politics, dated The Indigo Girls‘ Amy Ray from 1997 to 2002! Now Baumgardner lives in New York with her husband Michael and their two sons, and Amy Ray has been dating a lady in Seattle for the last ten years.
5. Patricia Velásquez & Sandra Bernhard*
Venezuelan model and actress Patricia Velásquez is best known for her print and runway work (she’s also been in several Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Editions) and her role as Anck-Su-Namun in The Mummy and The Mummy Returns. You may recognize her from Arrested Development (she was the second actress to play Colombian soap opera star Marta Estrella) and The L Word (she played Begoña, the actress playing Marina/Karina in Lez Girls). But did you know that she dated outspoken lesbian comedienne Sandra Bernhard in 1992? The two met at a fashion show in Paris. In her memoir Straight Walk, Velásquez confirmed that relationship and her lesbian identity, revealing that Sandra Bernhard was actually the first girl she kissed. “I was deeply in love with Sandra,” she wrote in her book, “in a way I’d never experienced before.”
6. Meshell Ndegeocello & Rebecca Walker
Alice Walker’s oft-estranged daughter, the writer and activist Rebecca Walker (Black, White and Jewish, Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence, BLACK COOL), was in a long term relationship with crush-worthy bisexual singer Meshell Ndegeocello once upon a time, a pairing which AfterEllen says was “for years… the most out couple in the black lesbian community.”
Ndegeocello and Walker co-parented Ndgeocello’s son, Soloman, born in 1989. Ndegeocello now lives in upstate New York with her partner of eight years, Alison, who had a baby in 2009. Ndegeocello spoke openly about her family to OUT Magazine in 2010, noting that “it’s kind of important to get it out into society about people who are gay or different, that they can have a family.”
Walker now lives in Maui with her partner, Buddhist teacher Choyin Rangdrol (or “Glen,” as Walker calls him) and her 11-year-old son, Tenzin. In 2012, she wrote about her first girlfriend and discovering her attraction to women for Marie Claire Magazine.
7. Portia De Rossi & Francesca Gregorini
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been asking yourself “What happened before Ellen?” pretty much constantly for at least ten years. Well, now we all know. It was Francesca Gregorini, an Italian writer and directer and the daughter or Bond Girl Barbara Bach and businessman Augusto Gregorini and the stepdaughter of Ringo Starr. Gregorini has also been rumored to have dated director Kimberly Pierce and actress Amber Heard.
8. Rosie O’Donnell & Sophie B Hawkins*
I’ve been hearing about this one for what feels like a decade, but although Rosie’s open about it, Sophie isn’t. Damn, I wish I could hear about her being her lover.
9. Leisha Hailey & KD Lang
These two are like the ultimate “omg remember when ____” couple. Crooner k.d. Lang and actress/musician Leisha Hailey, then a singer in The Murmurs, met at a friend’s birthday party in 1996 and broke up in 2000. Hailey has never talked much about their relationship, telling The Advocate, “It’s a very private matter for me. I learned a tremendous amount from that relationship, and I’m very sentimental about it and look back on it with beautiful memories.” She says their lifestyle “was about being at home and being with our dog.”
10. Camilla Grey & Clea Duvall
If you’re following along at home on your Chart then you will see that Leisha Hailey connects the prior couple to this couple! The exact timeline of this relationship is unclear, but it was definitely in full bloom circa Uh Huh Her‘s 2007 debut, during which time Clea was doing photography for the band. After their split, Grey hooked up with bandmate Leisha Hailey and Duvall kissed a girl in the park and also got all of our hopes up about Ellen Page.
11. Susan Powter & Jessica Kirson
Susan Powter, ’90s fitness icon (author of Stop the Insanity!) and current fitness/lifestyle/yoga guru, dated lesbian comedian Jessica Kirson circa 2008-2009-ish. Prior to dating Jessica, Powter had dated Animal of the band Bitch & Animal. Powter had divorced twice and had two sons by the time she came out in Curve magazine in 2004, describing herself a a “radical feminist lesbian woman.” She adopted a third son and presently lives in a self-described “earth ship” in New Mexico. Kirson, the stepsister of Zach Braff, has appeared on Last Comic Standing, Last Call With Carson Daily, The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Comedy Central’s Premium Blend. The internet offers no recent updates regarding her relationship status.
12 & 13. Rita Mae Brown & Fannie Flagg // Rita Mae Brown & Martina Navratilova
Rita Mae Brown was quite the romancer back in the day. She lived with Martina Navratilova from 1979-1981, a relationship which likely inspired her novel Sudden Death, about a lesbian tennis player. Martina went on to famously and publicly date beauty queen and mother-of-two Judy Nelson, starting in 1983, and when the couple suffered a messy breakup in 1991, it was Rita Mae who mediated their palimony dispute — and who then moved in with Judy. Rita Mae wrote the intro to Judy’s book Love Match, which was about her affair with Martina. Much later, Rita would meet Fannie Flagg at a party thrown by Marlo Thomas, but Rita has said that her relationship with Fannie ended up not working out because of generational differences: “It doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, [it just means] we will never see the world quite the same because of our tremendous losses and disillusionment and then the realization that ‘Oh my god, we gotta fight back.'”
14. Amanda Moore & Kate Young
Model Amanda Moore and ex-Vogue writer Kate Young were featured in New York Magazine’s Sexiest Couples of 2003 with the following tidbit: “Now, that’s lesbian chic. Kate’s an ex–Vogue-ette with Marilyn-blonde hair and a pixie face. Amanda’s a tall, dark runway regular. They recently posed, making out, for iD magazine. And why not?”
15. Lindsay Lohan & Courtenay Semel
On the cover of Curve magazine in 2009, Courtenay Semel, daughter of former Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel, described herself as the “lesbian Don Juan,” having been linked romantically to Lindsay Lohan, Tila Tequlia and the now-deceased heiress Casey Johnson. Lohan and Semel were linked shortly prior to Lohan’s relationship with Samantha Ronson. Semel also appeared in Curve magazine again this month because she painted a large colorful mural in her garage.
It was difficult to determine exactly the proper level of forgotteness for these couples and thus the following couples almost made the list, but then did not: Rose Troche & Guinevere Turner, Corin Tucker & Carrie Brownstein, Linda Perry & Clementine Ford, Romi Klinger & Dani Campbell, Cherry Jones & Sarah Paulson. But perhaps you remember all these fine feathered felines like it was just yesterday! Keep the memory alive, friends!