Lindsay Lohan and Femme Invisibility

During the past week, my blog stats registered approximately 2500 views, almost all of them because of Lindsay Lohan.  On the highest day of LiLo frenzy, I had over 600 views for my post, “A Lesbian Looks Like…Lindsay Lohan?” 

Despite my best efforts to ignore the LiLo frenzy, I too have been drawn back into its orbit.  But let me make one thing clear:  to those readers who’ve asked me to weigh in on the matter of Lohan’s sexual orientation, you can stop reading now because I won’t be offering my opinion about whether or not Lindsay is lesbian or bisexual, or in or out of the closet.  In keeping with my previous analysis of her “post-gay” coming out, I remain agnostic on the question of her sexuality.  What interests me is how people seem to be invested in uncovering the “truth” of Lindsay’s desire, and yet remain stuck having the same unproductive conversation over and over again.   On message boards and elsewhere, it goes something like this:

Lindsay is a lesbian!! 

No she isn’t, it’s just a stage! (Lindsay fan determined to heterosexualize her idol)

Hello, in case you haven’t noticed she’s been with a girl for months!  Sam Ronson looks like a dude but he’s a girl.  Lindsay is a lez!!  (Idiotic straight guy #1)

No, she’s bisexual. 

What a waste of a gorgeous girl! (Idiotic straight guy #2)

That makes her hotter!  She’s bangin.  (Idiotic straight guy #3)

So what if she is a lesbian or bisexual.  She’s awesome and gorgeous!  Leave Lindsay alone!

With a level of discourse this high, what’s left for your favorite sublimely femme queer theorist to say?!    Well, really just this.  There seem to be two dominant schools of thought about Lindsay’s sexuality, both of which turn on the “problem” of her femininity.  The first position, which I’ve written about before, is that she couldn’t really be a lesbian because, hell, just look at her!  The other position is the inversion of the first.  It claims that Samantha Ronson is a real lesbian (hell, just look at her!) and Lindsay wouldn’t chose a girl like that unless she was herself really queer.  In this reading, it’s the butch’s supposedly irrefutable lesbian appearance that provides evidence for the femme’s queerness.  However, in both cases, queer femininity is fundamentally framed not just as a contradiction in terms but as a disappearing act.  

In her song titled “Rumors,” (insert ironic aside of your choice) Lindsay sings, “I just want to be me.”  But how do you come to terms with yourself in a world that doesn’t even see you?

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Lindsay Lohan, Open Secrets and the “Post-Gay” Closet

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The always-insightful Ms. S of Dorothy Surrenders has persuasively argued that the media buzz around Lindsay Lohan and Sam Ronson will drop off because, now that the couple is finally, irrefutably out of the closet, their relationship is, well, boring.

We all know that the gears of the media machine are propelled by unconfirmed rumors and scandal, not domestic bliss. Which reminds me of Tolstoy’s famous line in Anna Karenina: “happy families are all alike.” It may be a sign of “progress” that queer families are being assimilated into this land of shiny happy sameness. Still, for me it’s a sad statement that most of us find love and happiness to be something of a yawner.

Ms. Snarker zeroes in on an important point in her post: Lindsay’s coming-out process is compelling precisely because it represents a younger generation’s take on being gay. It is, in a word, casual. Even–dare I say it?–“post-gay.” Does this no-biggie attitude “mirror that of so many young gay or questioning women today”, as Ms. Snarker suggests? I’m not sure, since Lindsay’s wealth, celebrity and power seem to me to put her in a Sapphic league of her own (or a very elite one, anyway). Are you a young LGBTQ person, open-minded heterosexual, or someone who doesn’t label your sexuality? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this question.

Which brings me to the a-ha moment I want to share with you:

After all this time and two of my own previous posts on Lindsay Lohan, I finally realize why I’ve been so fascinated by this story. Lindsay’s coming out makes visible a new “post-gay” closet, one that’s built on the premise that she’s been hiding in plain sight all along.

We’ve moved yet another step away from queerness as “the love that dares not speak its name.” Who knows, we may soon discover that the power of open secrets, like Lindsay’s, will usher in a new love that won’t shut up.