Leisha Hailey and Jenna Lyons Were Both Outed by the Media. Now They’re Thriving in Dyke Bars for Magazine Photoshoots

If you woke up today and wondered “what gifts will the world bestow upon me today” and you’ve been looking at the clock, watching the day pass by, still lacking a single gift, then have I got the fantasy football lineup for you: A joint interview and photoshoot with Jenna Lyons and Lesiha Hailey at Cubbyhole for Coveteur Magazine, photographed by Austin Sandhaus

A photoshoot at Cubbyhole?! Leisha and Jenna are officially invited on the next Autostraddle Dyke Bar Crawl

Leisha says her Mom’s best friend was a lesbian named Maureen, which is cool because my Mom is a lesbian named Maureen, although it’s not the same lesbian named Maureen.

Leisha talks about journalists angling to out queer celebrities, about how The L Word approached sex scenes, and about her initial assumption that the show wouldn’t really become the phenomenon it did. Jenna confirms some Real Housewives of New York Season Two rumors, namely that another gay will be joining the cast, so expect Bravo Dyke reports on that imminently. (At the end of the interview, Jenna also has the brilliant idea that Leisha should join RHONY so there can be three whole queers in the cast. Make it happen, Bravo!) They also discuss the fact that they were both outed by the media back in the day. But look at them now!

Jenna on her approach to fashion:

“I always wanted the mix of something boyish and something girlish. I never wanted head-to-toe ‘girl,’ and maybe it felt welcoming because there always was something that was pushing it off. And that was not because I was trying to appeal to the gay people, it was just because that was what I had always liked. Tulle with a pinstripe suit or something. You know what I mean? That push and pull.”

Leisha on social dynamics bleeding into the show:

“Yes. I think it was a blessing we were stuck in Vancouver together because we only had each other socially. We were all away from home, and a lot of us lived together. We would all leave set and go eat together and work out together. We were just like this massive bubble, and all the writers were doing the same thing. It just started to morph, everything you see on screen. So if we had a big party or something, they would write it into the show like that whole pot brownie party.”

Leisha’s correct take on the Generation Q throuple:

“When the throuple was pitched to me, I thought it was amazing. I wanted that relationship to last the entire series. I didn’t want it to break up the way it did. I wanted to go to parent-teacher conferences. Then Alice was famous so I wanted the throuple to be dealing with the red carpet.”

Jenna on the impact of The L Word:

“I grew up in a really small town outside of LA in a very classic neighborhood. I didn’t meet anyone gay until I moved to New York when I was 18. That’s why I think things like The L Word are so important. The people who reach out to me most or DM me are the parents. Oftentimes they say, ‘I was so afraid that my child wouldn’t be loved or accepted and wouldn’t find a job, but seeing someone who’s successful and out that looks just like everybody else is really comforting and makes me feel less scared.’ Oftentimes it’s this fear that makes people reject someone.”

Leisha on being the only out member of the cast during season one:

“At the time, It was so exciting to be on the show. Kate [Moennig], who plays Shane, was gay but she wasn’t out publicly, but I knew she was in that first season. I didn’t feel alone because all the women in charge were gay, like Ilene [Chaiken], Rose Troche, and all the producers. There was a lot of focus on me in the cast because I was the only out one. It was a constant question in every interview like, ‘What’s it like to be the only out one?’ and they would try to get me to spill that Kate was gay, and I was never going to do it. It was really awful how the press was back then.”

Jenna on her root being Black Swan, just like Autostraddle Managing Editor Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya:

“When the two of them started making out, I was like, ‘What?’ I remember feelings that I had not felt before, and I was definitely like, ‘Something is happening.’ The whole dynamic between the two of them was just so intense. There was also a sadness to it, too.”

Also, when asked how they’d program a lesbian cinema double feature, Leisha went with Desert Hearts and Bound and Jenna went with Black Swan and Entre Nous. The entire interview and photoshoot is just a nonstop delight from top to bottom, and you can learn that yourself here.

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Riese

Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3227 articles for us.

3 Comments

  1. This was fun and interesting; thank you. It was cool learning more about that show, because, even though it wasn’t perfect, it was what we had at the time, and it was fun. And I like that they referenced the Sleater-Kinney/Spin situation, because I remember how the magazine handled that and how it impacted the band and their families.

    Also, as a teenage girl growing up in the 90s, even though I was a little younger than LH and JL, this is very relatable, and reminiscent of my own confusion:

    “JL: This is something that I experienced, and I’ve been asked this question a lot. Because I only saw people who looked a very specific way that were gay—butch lesbians, women who were more masculine—I didn’t have any connection to that. I didn’t see myself in that. I wanted to wear sequins, heels, and lipstick so I didn’t connect myself or whatever feelings I might have had. When was the first time you actually started to connect yourself to something you saw?

    LH: I had the exact same experience as you. The feelings were the thing that made me realize I was gay, but I never saw anyone that looked like me.”

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