Bisexuality and Celebrity


The following responses have been edited from the Echo Lambda Conference bisexuality discussions:

13:647) Faune 25-APR-95 15:08

"Human sexuality defies labels"
By Clark Parsons, The Nashville Tennessean

WHAT should we label Jann Wenner?

Until a month ago, Wenner, the noted founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, wore the public persona of a dedicated husband and father.

What began as a Manhattan tempest is now rippling out throughout the rest of the country over the very public dissolution of Wenner's marriage and his current living arrangement.

The fortysomething Wenner now resides with a younger former model, who, by the way, is male.

The New York and national news media, which you'd assume would casually brush the whole affair aside, are still batting the story around. Some of the attention was due to the way in which Wenner -- a self-made entrepreneur, a poster boy for all that is good and bad about growing up a baby boomer -- tried desperately and unsuccessfully to keep the story from becoming tabloid fodder. Many editors played along, sitting on the story at first, which later caused charges from the gay community of double standards.

One notable bit of coverage was part of the gossip/society column in a recent New York Observer, which detailed how Wenner awkwardly appeared in public at a recent party with his new beau.

The account pointed out how many of the gay men at the event gathered around Wenner, in what seemed like an effort to make him uncomfortable with his new public identity as a gay man, an identity that he wore like an albatross.

The big question remains unasked, however. Here's a man who was married to his wife for more than 20 years, during which time he was presumed or publicly heterosexual.

So if Wenner is now ``gay,'' what was he before? Has he always been a bisexual? Or does his past regard for the female form trap him somewhere between our definitions of ``true'' heterosexuality and homosexuality? Simply put, maybe the present boundaries are too confining for human behavior.

The evidence is piling up everywhere in U.S. popular culture that the absolute division of human behavior into gay or straight camps doesn't fit everyone at all times, this despite science making inroads into the possible definition of distinct genetic differences between the two camps.

It's a strange situation. On one hand, freedom of sexual identity is rampant among a portion of society. The new wave of musical artists, many of them women, are singing personal songs about sexuality and gender issues. One nickname on college campuses is LUG, or ``lesbians until graduation.'' Tabloid talk shows and prime-time dramas often feature people who don't fit into many traditionally public sexual norms.

And yet, on the other hand, there's a whole other movement that some say resulted in the conservative Republican victories in November's elections.

Something's gotta give. Or does it?

(editors note: this extremely excellent post had to be extremely edited for Web format!)

13:649) icarus 25-APR-95 18:16

Interesting questions, to say the least. I for one see my sexuality as something controlled by Eros - it is completely fluid, generally orienting toward men but on occasion pointing toward a woman - Eros is a mysterious little shape-shifter. While I identify myself as gay, not bisexual, it is more for political reasons than anything. I wonder if some day I might "come out" as a part-time hetero? Doubtful, but my objects of sexual interest change on a whim.

And in regards to your post, complicating (or perhaps simplifying) matters further is the increased awareness of gender constructions in society. There are others in this conference better suited to exploring this issue as it relates to your post. (Embraceable ... ?)

Being amorphous is ultimately liberating but TERRIFYING to the dogmatic.

13:650) Duo Damsel = Yvette 25-APR-95 21:21

So what's the real issue for society, that Jann Wenner's new partner is a man or that he refuses to define himself (publicly)? Labels don't fit perfectly, but there is such a pressure to define and label oneself in this culture, as if being one thing excludes being other things.

13:651) Faune 26-APR-95 8:35

The following thread is also from that list on how someone else has come out as bisexual. Interesting contrast ...

Date: Sun, 23 Apr 1995 15:07:48 -0400
Sender: "Bisexual Activists' Discussion List" BIACT- L@BROWNVM.BROWN.EDUBR
Subject: We pop up in the darndest places
To: Multiple recipients of list BIACT-L@BROWNVM.BROWN.EDU

I don't know how many papers picked this one up, but one of my locals, the San Jose Mercury News, quoted Dan Farmer, the creator of Satan (a computer program designed to analyze the security of an Internet server for flaws) as being bisexual. They didn't claim he was, he said he was. I wish I hadn't gotten rid of the article already... it was the second sentence in the first paragraph, and got quoted again for their weekly wrap-up section in the Sunday paper. Whatever your opinion of the software, it's nice to see one of us come out in the press like that. :)

13:652) Garbled Uplink 26-APR-95 8:39

That may have as much to do with his being summarily dismissed by Silicon Graphics as his creation did.

13:653) diamond 26-APR-95 11:19

Just to add complexity to the intergenerational quality of queerness (as in cultural not biological) Wenner's mom, I've heard, is a Lesbian. This would give him some queer cultural capital.

13:655) ragged paul 26-APR-95 13:34

Dan has been an out queer for the several years I've known him. He marched with the contingent and the leather folks in washington way back when, and he wore similar t-shirts when my employer took pictures of him (but ran another computer security bozo instead). I think we also have one with his shirt off. Woo Woo.

I doubt that has a whole lot with his departure from SGI. There are certainly plenty of other reasons, and they hardly could have missed it when they hired him.

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