Saturday, June 7, 2008

Lesbian visibility

In the last decade, a lot has changed when it comes to lesbian visibility. Ever since Ellen Degeneres came out of the closet and told the world she was gay, many other gay and bisexual women have followed her example.

Well, many might an overstatement, as the number of out gay women in Hollywood can still be summed up easily. However, in the last few years we have seen a huge improvement in not only the number of women who have come out, but also in the public’s acceptance of out celebrities.

Who knows maybe one day we will even get to the point where sexual orientation really does not matter anymore.

Until such time, visibility matters. It is very important to see gay women in Hollywood who have full and successful lives and who are proud of who they are. This not only helps other lesbian and bisexual women, especially those who are young or are struggling with coming out themselves, but it is also good for the general public to see more lesbians on TV.

The more exposure, especially in a positive way, the more people will realize lesbians are just like everyone else. It is this kind of normalcy of gay and bisexual women that helps the most with acceptance.

For example, look at Ellen Degeneres. She is one of the most popular American daytime TV show hosts around. Her TV show has won so many awards, including daytime Emmys for five years in a row. Millions of people watch Ellen every day and they love her.
Not only do millions of people love her, most of them are also familiar with the fact that Ellen is a lesbian. They know this, but because they see what a great person and entertainer she is, it does not matter. Not really.

That is exactly what makes someone like Ellen Degeneres so influential. She is a great example of a woman who is very open about and comfortable with who she is, but at the same time shows that she is so much more than just a lesbian.

Yet, another great thing about Ellen is that she also uses her power and influence to make a difference. Especially in the last year, she has addressed many gay issues on her show, including the Lary King murder. Again, it is important to raise awareness and to inform the general public about things they otherwise might not be aware of.

Besides the really famous lesbians like Ellen Degeneres, Melissa Etheridge, and Rosie O’Donnell, there is a whole new generation of not so famous, but very out and proud lesbian actors and comics emerging onto the scene.

These ladies were lucky that others before them paved the way for them, and therefore, being who you are becomes less and less of a big deal. Due to great lesbian websites like After Ellen, everyone around the world is able to see all the up and coming lesbian stars of tomorrow.
They might not be household names, but they have a huge influence on young lesbians and bisexual women everywhere, who are looking for some kind of role model.

This is all very positive and promising, but we still have a long way to go. There are still many closeted people in Hollywood, and there also is a lot of intolerance in the world. But I remain optimistic, that some day this will all have changed.

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