Here’s Basically Everybody Who Was In “The L Word” And Also Is Gay Now

A big breakthrough moment for me about my own sexual orientation happened after reading an interview with Erin Daniels, who played Dana Fairbanks (RIP) on The L Word, in which she affirmed that despite playing a gay lady on a teevee show, she was in fact a heterosexual. I remember thinking, “oh come on, how could you be on that show and make out with so many girls and not become at least a little bit gay!?” Then I realized, Erin Daniels can be on that show and make out with so many girls and not turn at least a little bit gay because Erin Daniels isn’t a little bit gay. If I, on the other hand, suspected it’d be impossible for me to do the same, perhaps that meant, you know, that I was a little bit gay. This turned out to be wrong: I’m actually a LOT bit gay.

Regardless.

When the show launched, “which of these actresses are gay in real life” was a common question asked of the cast members at press junkets and interviews. It was a different time, then. Leisha Hailey was the only out lesbian in the main cast. Kate Moennig was also a lesbian but it wasn’t okay yet to say so, at least not anywhere important or public or in print. Karina Lombard, Mia Kirshner and Laurel Holloman had all hinted at or embraced the bisexual label at some point, but both Laurel and Karina have since redacted the identification. Karina’s statement hurt the most, perhaps, as she indicated that being on the show was what convinced her she wasn’t bisexual anymore. Laurel, who’d identified that way after having an experience with another woman following her part in The Incredibly True Adventures of 2 Girls In Love, eventually came to feel that that relationship was a one-off and it wasn’t right for her to continue identifying as bisexual.

On the flipside, though… here are the ones who are now publicly gay, lesbian, queer or bisexual:

1. Leisha Hailey / Alice Pieszecki

l word gay now

The only out lesbian playing a main character when the show premiered, Leisha Hailey had been a musician and an actress for a decade, and famously once dated worldwide lesbian heartthrob kd Lang. While on The L Word, Hailey was dating Nina Garduno of Free City, which’s how the show scored so much Free City apparel for characters who definitely couldn’t truly afford $150 t-shirts. Mid-series, she formed the band Uh Huh Her with Camila Grey, who was then dating Clea Duvall. These days, Grey and Hailey are dating each other and getting kicked off airplanes.


2. Kate Moennig / Shane McCutcheon

l word gay now2

Moennig is Gwyneth Paltrow’s cousin and has been playing queer and trans roles on television and in the movies since her first big break getting the part of Jake Pratt on Young Americans. Moennig’s sexual orientation has always been a bit of an “open secret,” but she didn’t wholly give up on avoiding it until after The L Word — she dated Holly Miranda for a while, has been an ambassador for Wildfang, remains in a queer girl squad with Leisha Hailey, did a documentary about gay youth homelessness, and tweets / instagrams hella gay shit all the damn time. Also, possibly dated Evan Rachel Wood?


3. Kristanna Loken / Paige Sobel

l word gay now4

Loken was well-known amongst shameless lesbian gossip hounds (read: me) as the ex-girlfriend of Michelle Rodriguez and ex-kisser of Pink. Loken came out as bisexual in Curve Magazine in 2006 and showed up on The L Word shortly thereafter. She has since had relationships with both men and women and is currently pregnant and in a relationship with a man.


4. Clementine Ford / Molly Kroll

With her first husband, with then-girlfriend Linda Perry, with her now-husband

With her first husband, with then-girlfriend Linda Perry, with her now-husband

Just as The L Word was ending, Clementine Ford appeared on the cover of DIVA magazine in a “coming out” interview that Ford immediately claimed did not actually happen, although she soon thereafter told The Advocate that she was gay, but wanted there not to be “this big emphasis on it.” She also denied rumors from DIVA Magazine that she’d had an affair with Kate Moennig, her on-screen love interest. She dated Linda Perry from 2009-2011, and married actor Cyrus Wilcox in April 2013.


5. Daniela Sea / Max Sweeney

Promo Image of DJ Gunn & Daniela Sea for a 2016 Henrietta Hudson party

Promo Image of DJ Gunn & Daniela Sea for a 2016 Henrietta Hudson party

In 2006, Sea told AfterEllen, ” I…don’t believe that gender is just binary, and I never have, so that’s what pulls me to sometimes politically identify as a lesbian, because I’m a feminist, and I feel like women are still so suppressed.” She remains an activist and a DJ, doing indie projects and being cute. She has said of her time on The L Word, “Max was usually treated as an outsider in the story, and a fair amount of that bled onto me personally from a few people I had to work with.”


5. Elizabeth Keener / Dawn Denbo

071510jamie3

Keener was one of those up-and-coming actresses in TLW who was pretty clearly living the life of a gay lady but not ready to say so. AND THEN. “Gay Pride Weekend had such a buoying effect on Keener that the actress stepped out in public not one, not two, but three times, with rumored new lady love Jackie Warner of Bravo’s Work Out,” wrote Gawker in 2008.


6. Guinevere Turner / Gabby Deveaux

GO FISH, director Rose Troche, Guinevere Turner on set, 1994, (c) Samuel Goldwyn

GO FISH, director Rose Troche, Guinevere Turner on set, 1994, (c) Samuel Goldwyn

Turner was part of the general social web that wrote and produced The L Word, having worked on films like Go Fish with people like her ex-girlfriend, co-executive producer Rose Troche. She was one of a handful of out actresses who appeared on the show because you cannot make the first american lesbian TV show ever without giving Guienevere Turner a part. She also wrote three episodes.


7. Patricia Velasquez / Begoña

Patricia kisses her now-ex-girlfriend, Ileanna Simancas

Patricia kisses her now-ex-girlfriend, Ileanna Simancas

Velasquez had a bit role as the actress playing Marina in Lez Girls, but remained deeply closeted until last year, when she came out and released a memoir about her life, including details of her relationship with Sandra Bernhard.


8. Ali Liebert / Rebecca

Ali Liebert in "The L Word"

Ali Liebert in “The L Word”

Liebert was one of many Canadian actresses who played tiny roles with zero lines because The L Word shot in Vancouver. She went public about her relationship with her girlfriend in 2015.


9. Jane Lynch / Joyce Wyshnia

Jane Lynch on "The L Word"

Jane Lynch on “The L Word”

As a character actress, Lynch never felt the need to come out, but has been living an openly lesbian life for all of her career. Her career has taken off since The L Word, and she also got married and then divorced. Also, she can do no wrong.


11. Alexandra Hedison / Dylan Moreland

l word gay now3-001

Hedison was the noteworthy ex-girlfriend of Ellen DeGeneres and a successful photographer when she joined the cast as Helena Peabody’s love interest Dylan in Season Three. She scored big in the Lesbian Mate Bingo in 2014, marrying Jodie Foster.


12. Holland Taylor / Peggy Peabody

Holland Taylor with her girlfriend Sarah Paulson

Holland Taylor with her girlfriend Sarah Paulson

It was a gift from the great lesbian beyond when we learned this very year that our dearest most treasured Sarah Paulson and our dearest most treasured Holland Taylor were madly in love and not afraid to say so. That was the day I started writing this post, which I then abandoned, and then re-engaged with because we have no content for today! Fun story: the first time I became aware of Sarah Paulson’s existence was when I saw a reading of a play about making The L Word, written by Susan Miller, in which Sarah Paulson appeared. So did Kate Moennig. Now, here we are.


13. Kelly McGillis / Colonel Gillian Davis

Kelly McGillis marries her partner

Kelly McGillis marries her partner

McGillis played a closeted Colonel trying to kick Tasha out of the military in Season Five of The L Word. McGillis herself remained in the closet until a few months after TLW wrapped up, coming out as a lesbian in May of 2009.


14. Sandra Bernhard / Charlotte Birch

Sandra Bernhard with her partner Sara Switzer

Sandra Bernhard with her partner Sara Switzer

Bernhard has been an out bisexual comedian for many years, going back to her rumored romance with Madonna in the ’90s, which is one of my favorite things to ever happen.


15. Heather Matarazzo / Stacy Merkin

75815278

Heather Matarazzo came out discretely in 2004, and began a guest role of Stacy Merkin on The L Word in 2007. She began dating musician Caroline Murphy in 2007 and the two broke up in 2012. She also played gay in the short-lived Logo series Exes and Ohs.


16. Tammy Lynn Michaels / Lacey

l word gay now7

Melissa Etheridge’s ex-girlfriend‘s acting career never fully took off, but she had a very memorable turn as Lacey, Shane’s insane stalker, in The L Word.


17. Patricia Melone / Woman #1

l word gay now6

Melone, who eventually became a spokeswoman for lesbian vacation company Sweet, crashed the set of Lez Girls with Dawn Denbo in Season Five.


18. Lucia Rijker / Dusty

on the set of "The L Word" with Rachel Shelly and Rose Rollins

on the set of “The L Word” with Rachel Shelly and Rose Rollins

Rijker is a world-famous kickboxer known as “the most dangerous woman in the world” who appeared twice on the show, once as Dana’s trainer and again as Helena’s jailhouse lover Dusty. She was actually Ilene Chaiken’s personal trainer at one time, and the two were working together on a project about female athletes. In 2008, she told Curve Magazine that she doesn’t put a label on her sexuality.


19. Luvia Petersen / Dax and “Cowboy”

Screenshot 2016-06-10 13.39.41

Peterson, another Canadian actress, is bisexual. She played two bit parts on The L Word, including Dax, an employee of Ivan’s garage.


20. Katie Messina / “ER Nurse” – POSSIBLY NOT QUEER I COULD BE WRONG DON’T @ME

Screenshot 2016-06-10 13.55.13

Another Canadian actress, Messina isn’t well-known enough that I can tell you with 100% certainty that she is queer, but I’m like 95% sure that she is queer, because she pings like whoa, posts kinda gay shit on her instagram, and also directed a play in a theater festival specifically for LGBTQ humans.


21. Brynn Horrocks /  “Flight Attendant”

Screenshot 2016-06-10 12.29.28

What a role! What a time to be alive!


And, at last, some notably queer guest stars:

  • Kate Clinton
  • Elizabeth Ziff
  • Nona Hendryx
  • Billie Jean King
  • Peaches
  • Angela Robinson
  • Toshi Reagon
  • Tegan & Sara
  • Carrie Brownstein
  • Corin Tucker

Riese is the 37-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian 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.

Riese has written 2674 articles for us.

62 Comments

  1. I was going to make a joke about how this excellent journalism earns you a (Peggy) Peabody Award, but then I remembered that the Peabody is for radio and TV journalism and so my joke (and my whole life) is RUINED.

  2. I have the world’s biggest soft spot for Kelly McGillis’s character. My one awkward foray into teenage heterosexuality was really into Top Gun.

    Just as Kelly McGillis later went on to be a lesbian lawyer-type on The L Word, I grew up to be a lesbian lawyer in real life. And we happen to share the same first name (Gillian).

    • I always thought Mia was bi because i think i read that somewhere when the show first aired. Then 2 years later, i learned she had an apartment in Paris and since I lived there, I started fantasizing about runnning into her then we would go on a date and fall madly in love. I never run into her :'(

  3. My freshman year of college Uh Huh Her came to New Orleans and I got to see them and Leisha Hailey and Carmila Grey both signed my rainbow silicone bracelet. This is only tangentially related to the article, but it was one of the gayest nights of my life and I like to talk about it whenever possible.

    Also this list is a wonderful resource.

  4. Wait Rachel Shelley is straight? I guess the fact for a while she wrote(monthly) for Diva Magazine. It’s also where I discovered they filmed in Vancouver, because she was talking about her time filming there. There goes my chance. lol

      • I would now have to agree after finding that out today. Cause, one article she was talking about what it was like being in Vancouver again for a woman’s festival after the L Word was already done. I just assumed, she must be into women, why else would they have her writing vs another British celeb who’s into women.

  5. Oh my gosh. Just reading this takes me so far back into the closet and into how it felt when I first secretly watched the L Word, and what a twisted weird secret thing liking girls felt like (a perception that was NOT misspelled by Ilene Chaiken’s twisted weird Weho lesbian universe, TBH, or the fact that almost none of the actors were out back then).

    I like now a lot better ??

  6. Did my lesbian card expire? How could I possibly not have heard that Ali Liebert is officially family as of February 2015?? Why am I not getting these important memos anymore?!??!

  7. Re: Laurel Holloman, i read a couple articles in which she mentioned being happily married to a man, being a fulfilled mother and painter, and being a proud bisexual. I’m confused. Also, I think Anne Ramsay (Robin) is gay. Or maybe she just likes hanging out at Dyke Day LA because why not? (but seriously, she’s a gay lady.)

    • i address the laurel holloman situation in the intro

      i know anne ramsay is gay! butttt nobody has *said so* in the press at any point, which means i’d be the first person to say it i think…. which means a ton of people would come here and yell at me about how if she has chosen to keep her life private i should respect that or whatnot. she seems to play exclusively gay characters these days, too. i don’t know, i’m on the fence about whether or not to include her. she’s more mainstream famous than a lot of people on this list so the risk level is a bit higher.

  8. That Tammy Lynn Michaels acting career never recovered from her train wreck divorce from Melissa Etheridge is still a sore point. She was Nicole Julian in Popular, she had so much snark.

  9. Hi there, I’ve read a few things written here before but now I am a full blown AfterEllen transfer so I’ll be here a lot more.

    Kate Moennig is the reason I found AfterEllen I wanted to see what she was up to after Young Americans. Not sure if you were implying that her character Jake Pratt was trans but she wasn’t. She dressed as a boy to attend the boys boarding school to see if her mother would notice she enrolled in a boys school. It was kind of a convoluted reason but she was a she dating a guy.

    About Elizabeth Keener, your snippet talks about her coming out with Jackie Warner but the picture is with Chef Jamie Lauren.

    Finally, Ali Liebert…WHAT?! “She went public about her relationship with her girlfriend in 2015” what, again. I totally missed that, way to drop the ball AfterEllen.

  10. Wireless connectivity is playing part in communication approaches for all style
    of business organizations. While all technologies
    have operating limits, the truth that these technologies need no wires to work helps it be possible to obtain Internet from practically any
    location for the planet.

    If one needed something, they can find that there’s someone who they will call on for being
    there on their behalf. Immediately, a great chemistry started between us, spiced with joy and abandon. Best wifi repeater The arrival of laptops, tablet pc’s and
    cellular phones, networking by physical connections are giving
    new dimension towards the wireless networking features.

  11. This is literally such an illegitimate article for simply one reason….. NO FUCKING DISCRETION.
    Obviously the L Word has been out for some time now. Like many shows, it ended up in the Netflix library of shows to binge watch. Which gives it a wider audience and allows previous generations to watch it now. The same goes for many other shows and movies.

    The literal first sentence of your article, which is about the sexuality of the actresses in real life, is completely unnecessary. “A big breakthrough moment for me about my own sexual orientation happened after reading an interview with Erin Daniels, who played Dana Fairbanks (RIP) on The L Word, in which she affirmed that despite playing a gay lady on a teevee show, she was in fact a heterosexual.” Why is that? Well for one you added (RIP) behind Dana’s name. Are you fucking kidding me? I thought maybe I was mistaken and somehow skipped over the “SPOILER ALERT” notice….. BUT nothing. NOTHING. Well, Except a really awful title for the article itself which happens to be grammatically incorrect.

    In ANY article about a TV series (completed or still running) or in ANY article about a Movie, the author out of respect for viewers, readers, and artists is obligated to warn/notify readers of any *SPOILER ALERTS*. OH, and if you happen to just be completely ignorant, a spoiler alert is an alert to notify the readers who have not seen the film or completed the series to STOP where they’re at and pick up in another part of the article or to completely stop reading at this point because the author is about to share a major event/plot that happened.

    Dana dying is HUGE thing. I haven’t gotten to that yet. So even if my comment is pointless or hypothetical to you, I’m letting you know that you ruined it for me. Congrats. I’m sure you’ll do it for many other innocent googlers and netflix watchers.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.