Pop Culture Fix: Why Are We So Thirsty for Celesbians Coming Out and Other Stories

Welcome to your weekly Pop Culture fix, a time for mixing apples with bananas and seeing what happens next!


+ At Buzzfeed, Shannon Keating asks “Why Are We Obsessed With How And When Female Celebrities Come Out?” Obviously she talks to our very own Stef Schwartz, Self-Appointed Vapid Fluff Editor, as well as other lesbians with vested interest in celesbian gossip. It’s a great piece on a topic that could not possibly be nearer and dearer to our own hearts.

But these conversations also stem in part from queer people’s desire to see themselves reflected in pop culture. The way we talk about queer celebrities is ultimately a way we can talk about ourselves. These celebrities are our avatars, upon whom we can project our complicated feelings about the closet, about queer respectability and assimilation, about how big or small a part of our public identities our queerness should be, about monogamy and domesticity, about life and love. Gossip isn’t always “just” gossip; sometimes, it’s a common language.

+ Angela Robinson “singled out misogyny as the sole reason it took 75 years from Wonder Woman’s inception for the hero to get her own standalone film.” She was also grilled on her decision to make the triad in Professor Marston and The Wonder Women an all-way affair — to make it so that the two women were involved with each other as well as being involved with the same man.

One component of that interpretation that got brought up at the panel was the queer relationship between Olive and Elizabeth. Was that based on research you’d done, or was that just your interpretation?
I mean, it’s both. This is one of those things that’s kind of tricky about history, especially history that has been obscured because of the relationships and because of society and many things. But there’s certain facts that are indisputable about the Marstons’ lives, which everybody agrees on, and there are certain ones that are open to interpretation. You know what I mean? It’s how you choose to interpret those facts. So that’s how I chose to interpret them. That, I don’t know how else to say except that it’s open to interpretation.

The film comes out October 13th and it looks real good!

+ The showrunner for Danger & Eggs talks to The Hollywood Reporter about How to Bring LGBTQ+ Truth to Kids’ TV:

When my show Danger & Eggs got the series order from Amazon, I couldn’t go down the road of delightful nostalgia. I asked our writers to treat the writing more like speculative fiction. Speculative social fiction. What does diversity look like in the modern small-city-in-America park? What is the new shape of the intersections of race, class, ability and gender. I didn’t realize writing LGBTQ+ kids — our show includes trans youth along with gay dads and other queer characters (many voice by LGBTQ+ actors) — and their freedoms of tomorrow would begin to heal my own more traumatic childhood. A healing joy second only to my jealousy of them, which I save for therapy.

+ The Richest is celebrating National Coming Out Day with an insane list that doesn’t make any sense: Celebs Who Killed Their Career By Coming Out And Some Who Helped It. In addition to listing Ellen as somebody who’s career took off because of coming out (when in fact it killed her career for an extensive period of time before she could bounce back), they claim that Adam Lambert, Cynthia Nixon and Amber Heard killed their careers by coming out, which is also not true.

+ I have very sad news for the world today, which is that ‘Survivor’s Remorse’ has been canceled at Starz after four seasons.  I’m not surprised — everybody I’ve told about this show has never heard of it, it had a really unfortunate and not-reflective-of-the-show title, and it did lose a lot of what it had going on for itself after the death of Mike Epps’ character Uncle Julius at Season Two’s end. But I loved this show to pieces and I’ll miss you, M-Chuck!

The Best Queer Comedy on TV Right Now Is on Facebook:

Created by Mia Lidofsky, Strangers is a genuinely affecting, lovely, and sometimes devastatingly-relatable series that just finished its first season on Facebook’s “Watch” tab (both Watch and Strangers launched the first week of September). The show, co-produced by Beachside and Refinery29, follows newly single Isobel (Zoë Chao), a bisexual woman discovering and exploring her sexuality. After a break-up, Isobel begins renting out her house on an Airbnb-like site and meets a handful of strange and wonderful people (and familiar faces: Jemima Kirke, Jemaine Clement, Shiri Appleby), each who help Isobel navigate her personal life both directly and indirectly.

+ Tegan and Sara on Revisiting ‘The Con’ 10 Years Later: ‘It’s Not a Feel-Good Record’

Was it as emotionally turbulent to revisit the material?​
It’s a funny thing, now being in my mid-30s—Sara calls it late 30s, but I refuse to call it late 30s for one more day. Tomorrow’s my birthday and I’ll be mid–late 30s, but today I’m still mid-30s. [Laughs.] I don’t know if everyone agrees with this, but I think your 20s are very self-indulgent. And The Con is very dramatic and self-indulgent record in that perfect 20s way. Going back, it causes anxiety and it makes me feel emotional. It’s good, though, and makes me want to do a really intimate and dark record. It could be the current political situation.

+ The Feminists Making Vampires Gay Again:

I think the story of Carmilla in our universe has always been a love story between these two women, and it was just part of the story. It didn’t need to be introduced, it didn’t need to be explained, as it doesn’t need to be in real life. I don’t think sexuality ever needs to be introduced or explained, or it shouldn’t have to be.”

+ Also here’s another article that I think you’ll like on this same topic: 10 Things We Know About the Carmilla Movie, Straight from Natasha Negovanlis and Elise Bauman at NYCC

+ Gallery: Ari Fitz & Christine Ting Celebrate Black Queer Intimacy: This is hot!

+ Transgender Brazilians Embrace Hit Soap Opera: ‘Now You Can See Us’

+ The Bechdel Test, and Other Media Representation Tests, Explained

+ Reina Gossett on Transgender Storytelling, David France, and the Netflix Marsha P. Johnson Documentary — A really important story we’ll be reporting on next week, to the best of my knowledge.

+ American Horror Story Cult Shooting Scene: Why an Unedited Cut Matters


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Riese is the 35-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," 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. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

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17 Comments

  1. I’ve already seen a lot of complaints about that aspect of Professor Marston and The Wonder Women. When the trailer was posted on Instagram and Twitter, so many of the comments about where about “how dare you try to ruin Wonder Woman like this after the DC movie did so well!!!”. They didn’t seem to get that this movie is a biopic about the original creator’s life. If they are this bent out of shape over the creator having been with two women at the same time could you imagine if they actually made Wonder Woman bi in the movie canon. There would be 20 think-pieces about pandering to the LGBT commmunity.

  2. I was watching an episode from the current season(the one that just came out) of the Simpsons and they had Alison Bechdel on the show, and she even explained what the Bechdel test was. Sadly no mention of her being a lesbian, into women or has a gf/wife.

  3. Speaking of being obsessed with stars coming out, Alexandra Tydings aka Aphrodite from Xena came out on Facebook today and I AM DYING OF GLEE. I said she knew her audience when she showed up to the last XenaCon in a suit, I didn’t realize WHY.

  4. The Buzzfeed article was interesting. Just a thought coming off it – our beloved EvanRachelWoodBisexual was mentioned as a ‘celesbian’ in the article. I recognise that it was talking about ‘celesbian’ as a category basically meaning ‘famous queer woman’ but it just brought up for me again the tension between using ‘lesbian’ as a descriptor for stuff relating to love between women, and lesbian as a specific identity. I know Autostraddle uses the term ‘lesbian relationship’ to describe relationships between women regardless of their personal identities, and that’s clarified on articles where it is used.

    As someone who is bi, I’ve often come up against people saying that I shouldn’t use the word lesbian or gay in relation to myself because that’s not what I am. To be clear, I’ve never described myself as a lesbian or as gay, and I wouldn’t because I’m not, but I might talk about having lesbian sex or whatever. What are people’s perspectives on this? I think there’s a completely reasonable degree of wanting to be clear about labels and identities and communities that can sometimes tip over into hostility.

    I don’t want this to be the opening salvo in a revival of the whole ‘how lesbians and bi women relate to each other isn’t everyone mean’ thing by the way, I’m just thinking about this thing in particular.

    • i hesitate to use it referring to famous people who don’t openly identify as lesbians but then CERTAIN WRITERS WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED came up with some particularly terrible ideas for terms for bisexual celebrities and we still don’t have one.

    • i sort of think of it as a word that has divorced from its association as a specific sexual orientation, because like “celesbian” just ROLLS OFF THE TONGUE and I think was chosen more for that reason than for the specific sexual orientation it suggests. it’s also not an REAL word, which means its definition is up for grabs, but if they asked me to define it for a dictionary i would define it as “a celebrity woman who is lesbian, bisexual or queer.” i mean BI is in there, as carmen said. but also i observed it being used to refer to women of all different not-straight sexual orientations from the jump, so that’s what it’s always meant to me? up for debate i suppose

      • This discussion reminds me of those Vogue photo essays for Pride month, one of which was titled “Cass Bird Photographs New York’s Celesbians.” Here’s what Bird had to say about the piece:

        “I knew, going into this shoot, that I didn’t want to include anyone who just, sometimes, or even mostly, dates women,” Bird notes. “I wanted lesbians. I wanted women who embrace that identity. Because as much as I understand the desire to get away from labels and signifiers, I also believe there can be power in a label—in people coming together as a group. That’s how you gain rights. It’s how you create a movement. For me,” she adds, “‘lesbian’ is equally a sexual identity as it is a political identity. And a cultural one.”

        As someone who’s only recently begun getting into the world of LGBT pop culture, this was one of the first times I came across the word “celesbian.” I liked what Bird had to say about the power of labels and their political and cultural dimensions, but there are also labels that can encompass the experiences of “sometimes” or “mostly” dating women, with all their own political and cultural dimensions. It’s just one photographer’s opinion though. Your mileage may vary, I guess.

        What about Ace-listers, Bi-cons, Very Important Pansexuals?

  5. I’m so sad about the cancellation of Survivor’s Remorse…I binge watched the first three seasons recently and fell in love with the show (and kicked myself for not having watched it sooner). It’s particularly disappointing because Erica Ash was doing her best work of the series this season…

    The more I read about the controversy surrounding The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson, the more convinced I am that Reina Gossett’s work was stolen and I hope that she gets some financial restitution.

  6. Strangers is sweet and makes me feel seen as a bi person. Plus Leisha Hailey guest stars in one episode as an insightful therapist with a penchant for pot. It’s like Alice chilled out, dropped her voice down a register, and decided she would use her knowledge of the chart to help out queer ladies having general life freakouts.

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