Every Sunday I [say I’m going to] write a Top 10 on my regular blog Autowin. Howevs, this Sunday [and by Sunday I mean “Monday,”], in honour of NYC pride, I’m hosting a Homosexy Lesbian Top 20 right here! On Autostraddle! Clearly Autowin is a very intellectual and highly cultivated space for intellectual discussions about Virginia Woolf, The Allegory of the Cave, Boy-briefs vs. thongs and sophisticated feminist theory. Auto-Straddle is where I talk crazy about silly things, like Max Sweeney and my 20 most favorite fictional lesbians from (relatively) mainstream pop culture. I like how I make the category all specific for myself. I think eventually this editor/writer bit will lead to late-onset Multiple Personality Disorder, which according to an episode of Law & Order starring (lesbian!) Cynthia Nixon (bringing it back around!), doesn’t actually exist. Howevs, if it does, I hope that my personalities are named Desmond and Molly, from the Beatles song Ob-li-di-ob-la-da.
Because this list is limited to books I’ve read as well as plays, movies and shows I’ve actually seen, some seemingly obvious choices have been omitted — e.g., I haven’t read The Color Purple and I’ve never seen Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
I wanted to include more literature here, but it felt sort of sacreligious to put incredible novelists on a list with ‘tween television stars (apologies to Sarah Waters, I did it to you anyhow). So let me just say this — you should get Dorothy Allison‘s short story anthology “Trash” and read “River of Names.” Though the narrator isn’t named (as far as I remember), “River of Names” flashes between scenes of the narrator with her lover Jesse and the narrator’s recollection of her “white trash” childhood — in which it always seemed a family member was dying or dead … from childbirth, domestic abuse, “car wrecks, shotguns, dusty ropes, screaming, falling out of windows, stuff inside them.” The narrator listens to Jesse’s stories of a loving, tender childhood “not believing but wanting, aching for the fairy tale she thinks is everyone’s life.”
So. Now that we’re on the topic of fairy tales … here we go!
My Top 20 Most Favorite (Fictional) Lesbians in Pop Culture
20. Corky (Gina Gershon), “Bound”
Though I’m generally not into violent mob-movies, I’m very very into smoldering women in wifebeaters who know how to lean and swagger. And she’s got those lips (like A-Jo) that make love to everything — words, other mouths, cigarettes, the asexual air, Jennifer Tilly (who responds with that raspy, oversexed gauzy voice like silky sandpaper). Even the mouthpiece of the telephone wants a piece. I dissected Bound shot-by-shot for a high school film class paper about cinematography, which is why I’m gay now.
19. Nancy “Nan” Astley, “Tipping the Velvet” (Novel) by Sarah Waters
My affections for this perfect novel and consequently for this beautiful, precocious, faliable & radiant character, are detailed here.
18. Spencer Carlin (Gabrielle Christian), “South of Nowhere”
If this show had been on when we were teenagers, it would’ve blown our minds — two long-haired adolescents holding hands! … foregoing the “you’re a pretty girl, why can’t you find a man?” game ’cause it just wasn’t their bag… it ventures into Alex-Marissa (The O.C.) territory, but unlike the sweeps bisexuals that came before her, Spencer falls for another girl and realizes that she’s … gay! I know, weird, right? Usually they decide they had a one-hitter with a bestie and go back to men. Which’s fine, it’s just not as fun for us. Spencer’s also in a top spot on the yet uncompiled Top 100 Critters List. Look at her in that hoodie. You just want to eat her face. Obvs SoN has been cancelled. Tragic, on epic proportions. I recapped last season, it’s in the sidebar.
17. Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy), “High Art”
“I’m kinda hot. That’s kinda serious.”
Effortless. All jaw and weathered limbs, intent dissecting gaze, again rocking the wifebeater.
So … she’s a drug addict, but she’s so talented! That’s just her PASSION!
16. Molly Bolt, “The Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown
This girl had it going ON. Remember that girl you had a crush on when you were 11? Yeah, Molly gets that girl. And the next one. Of course it doesn’t work out most of the time, but this seminal novel (based on Brown’s own life, apparently) is a kind of romantic fantasy where every childhood, adolescent and adulthood crush becomes a full-fledged romp or affair. Molly’s unusually beautiful, of course. And it’s a fantastic read.
15. Alice Pieszecki (Leisha Hailey), “The L Word”
I’ve written more words about The L Word than any reasonably sane human being should. For a full explication on the depth of my feelings for Alice and her cute face (especially in her glasses or a t-shirt), see … this entire blog.
14. Joanne ( Fredi Walker) & Maureen (Idina Menzel) , RENT! (the musical)
Though Maureen’s character is bisexual and this is a list for lesbians (obvs I’m not bi-phobic, I mean … I’m a bisexual! … but if I include bi characters, then the choices would overwhelm), I cannot put Joanne here alone as it’s their co-fire that really triumphs — a fire you can feel even in standing room only or on the soundtrack CD. The film version doesn’t capture the electricity of “Take Me or Leave Me.” But the original cast is stunning.
13. Alex Nunèz (Deanna Casaluce), “Degrassi: The Next Generation“
She humanized Paige, Degrassi’s Most Annoying Character. Again in this picture we see the wifebeater effect.
12. Claude (Allison Foland), “All Over Me”
Tara Subkoff’s rascaly bestie character is the obvious “looker,” but the Allison Foland’s brunette steals our hearts. She’s had enough of furtive kisses with her impossible bony/damaged pal and, while doing that adolescent search for self thing, finds a better girlfriend in a pink dreadlocked Leisha Hailey, who steals her kisses in an awkward bedroom date that reminds you of everything titilating/awkward/AWESOME about high school.
10. Graham (Clea Duvall), “But I’m a Cheerleader“
Dressed in dental hygenist-y pink scrubs and sporting perpetually greasy hair, she’s precisely the kind of girl you want to leave your family, friends and cheerleading team for. Does the last scene make me cry? Maybe. Did I see Clea Duvall outside the SXSW club where Uh Huh Her did a DJ set two hours post-scheduled time? Possibly. That’s ’cause Clea and Cam are sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. Howevs, I only saw Clea sitting on the sidewalk, and she was F! I! N! E! This movie is a triumph ’cause it’s poppy and fun but satiric and clever, and RuPaul is in it.
9. Kim Lewis (Olivia Hallinin), “Sugar Rush” (Britan’s Channel 4)
This British television series, based on an atrocious novel by Julie Burchill, is particularly addictive on YouTube at 2 A.M. when you can’t sleep and the screen’s gotten too blurry to read. This scene features one of my favorite songs to touch tongues to. That’s Kim in her schoolgirl uniform. She’s so adorable. This list is starting to make me feel like Humbert Humbert. I should toss in some old lesbos for good measure, like … um. The aunt in The Simpsons? Oh! GOT ONE!
8. Clarissa Vaughn (Meryl Streep) & Laura Brown (Julianne Moore), “The Hours“
I can’t cite Woolf ’cause she was bi and isn’t fictional, although it’s a fictional book that I imagine Virginia Woolf herself would’ve loathed.
Did you read the book? Did you cheat and just see the movie? Well, they’re both delightful, though obviously, per ush, the book is better.
I never would’ve watched this show if Haviland hadn’t recommended it — and why’d she recommend it? ‘Cause Sela Ward, Haviland’s Dream Date, is the star. Bonus! Two of our generation’s finest Gay-for-Pays, Mischa Barton (see also: The O.C., Lost and Delirious) and Evan Rachel Wood (see also: Pretty Persuasion, Thirteen), have a surprisingly well-executed affair, which ultimately ends ’cause the show got cancelled. Like Jordan Catalano and Angela Chase. Jessie also had an anorexia storyline. If she’d gone completely batshit or developed a drug addiction in the next season, she could’ve covered all the “What Riese Wants in a TV Character” bases.
6. Amy (Chloe Sevigny), “If These Walls Could Talk 2”
Hi! It’s 1972! 1-2-3-4 we don’t want your stinkin’ war! Hey, let’s go to the gay bar, first let’s brush our hippie hair and put on flowy shirts and smoke some hash. OMG! Look at these local lesbians dressed like men how gross and patriarchal! Except that one, she’s smokin’ hot, I wanna dance with her in her poorly tailored suit, then she can come over and embarrass me with her earnest masculinity even though she’s way cooler than my friends. Maybe she’ll come over in her motorcycle jacket! Maybe I’ll go there and we can make it! She looks so good in her wifebeater, it’s no wonder she’s seducing me, Jen, the proverbial “slut” character from Dawson’s Creek. If only these walls could talk! If I was a wall, I’d say “I wish I was exposed brick.”
5. Vivian Shing (Lynn Chen), “Saving Face“
Have you seen this movie? It’s statistically unlikely that you have, so I won’t give anything away. It’s probs the best lesbian-themed movie I’ve ever seen.
Look at her face! You should see her personality. She’s a dancer. She’s perfect.
4. Shane McCutcheon (Kate Moennig), The L Word
What I love about Shane is her wide, voluptuous hips, the way her bountiful breasts peer eagerly out of her low-cut silk shirts from the Jenny Shecter Drapery-to-Ready-to-Wear Line for Target, just begging for release … and, above all, her high-pitched sing-songy voice. Also I like that she’s a midget, and I think it’s sexy that she only has one arm, like the SNL girl with one leg.
There is no woman I’ve spoken more words about than Shane, I don’t think I have any more. ‘Til next season when she does something new. Have you ever noticed that whenever Shane walks into a room, someone else walks out crying? Just something I thought of.
3. Bette Porter (Jennifer Beals), The L Word
I asked Alex last night for her favorite fictional lesbian. She couldn’t think of any and then exclaimed “Bette Porter! Hands-down!” Okay.
Today Alex emails: “Every time I try to think of my favorite “fictional” lesbian, I keep thinking that “fictional” idea = “girls who may or may not be lesbians in real life.” I think my line of thought is more “theoretical lesbians.” Which is fun for me to think of. Like, Neve Campbell could be a lesbian, and that’d be awesome. Angelina Jolie could fuck so many women, but she doesn’t. I can’t call Kate Beckinsale a “theoretical lesbian” cause she really doesn’t give us much to go on… she’s pretty damn straight. I’m rambling a bit, yeah? Totally.”
2. Ellen Morgan (Ellen DeGeneres), “Ellen”
I loved Ellen’s show from DAY ONE. Before anyone knew DeGeneres was gay, before anyone knew I was gay, before I knew I was gay, I loved Ellen’s show!
Then I feel like she did something important for the teevee on her show and for the homos, hm, what was that? Yep, I’m Shay.
1. Gia (Angelina Jolie), “Gia”
I know Gia was a real person. But you know when your image of the actress who plays a real person completely overwhelms your memory of the actual person? Especially when you watch the movie 100 times, often multiple viewings in one weekend. Especially when you hadn’t really heard of Gia the actual model (do people really knowabout models?) but got the movie anyhow ’cause it looked so hot? The scrawny pretty girls always die young. So tragic, and those lips; succor rising from the dying, and then she’s gone.Real Gia:
(in the dress)
(in the “bathing suit”)
Happy Pride, Homos!