The term celesbian (a portmanteau of celebrity and lesbian) originally referred to a female celebrity known or reputed to be a lesbian and popular within the LGBT community. Celesbianism as a Western media phenomenon came into vogue in 2008, when several female celebrities presented themselves as lesbians. The term was first used by New Yorkers Pam Franco and Susan Levine, a disk jockey. It was used in a full-page ad in a lesbian nightlife magazine, GO MAGAZINE. The ad was for the Mz Hip and Fit NY contest, the idea of Denise Cohen of Denco Designs & Events. The contest was a search for the hottest lesbian in the United States. The term celesbian was used for the celebrity lesbian judges.
In contemporary mass media, the term has come to mean a female celebrity who claims to be a lesbian, either explicitly or implicitly — often to get publicity. She may or may not really be homosexual. A term similar to this second sense of celesbian is fauxmosexual, combining faux (false) and homosexual, in which case the celebrity may be either male or female. Some LGBT activists have objected to the fauxmosexuality phenomenon, saying it trivializes real homosexuals, both in presenting homosexuality as an "outrageous" novelty, and in glossing over the serious issues faced by young people struggling to come to terms with their homosexuality. It is also seen as isolating and stereotypical by "ruining what we are trying to accomplish in showing the world that we are normal human beings like everybody else" by others.
Examples of progressive potential
The celesbian who is open about her sexuality may present herself as a more socially safe representation of lesbianism. Contemporary musical artists Nicki Minaj and Azealia Banks have both publicly expressed their sexual love of women and have been celebrated in doing so. In August 2015, The Austin Chronicle covered Camila Grey's and Kate Moennig's performance at Austin Pride. Kate Moennig plays Shane in The L Word and Lena in Ray Donovan Ellen DeGeneres publicly came out as a lesbian in 1997 on Oprah's Master Class. When asked by host Oprah Winfrey, "Why did you think it was necessary for you to come out?" Ellen replied, "Because it's okay. Because it is okay." By involving their lesbian sexuality in popular culture, they are doing work to normalize it.
Ranked listicles and speculative media coverage
Mainstream media produces hierarchic ratings of present-day celesbians. In 2015, The Talko electronically published "15 Celesbian Couples Who Are Too Cute To Handle". In 2014, New York Post electronically published "Hot Celesbians Are Everywhere You Look", The Times of India electronically published "Jodie Foster to Ellen DeGeneres: ‘Celesbian’ couples who tied the knot", and Autostraddle electronically published "Gothip Girl’s Top 10 Most Important Celesbian Moments of 2014".
- Elyafi, Mona (3 January 2012). "Why the Word 'Celesbian' Reinforces Stereotypes". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
Using such a word as "celesbian" to refer to openly out female celebrities within our community is not only isolating but nothing short of acting the stereotype. How, then, do we show the world that we can walk straight, live a normal life, run successful businesses, raise families, play sports, and, yes, play popular acting roles on TV, online, and in films? We're veering off track by alienating ourselves, and it's essentially ruining what we are trying to accomplish in showing the world that we are normal human beings like everybody else.
- The dangers of fauxmosexuality Tim Duggan, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 10, 2008. Retrieved December 24, 2008
- "Gay women need more celesbians". The Guardian. 2013-11-25. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-02-13.
- "Celesbians Take Pride". www.austinchronicle.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
- "Ellen DeGeneres Reveals The One Side Effect Of Coming Out She Never Expected". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "15 Celesbian Couples Who Are Too Cute To Handle". TheTalko. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- Stewart, Sara. "Hot celesbians are everywhere you look". New York Post. Retrieved 2016-03-12.
- "Gothip Girl's Top 10 Most Important Celesbian Moments of 2014 | Autostraddle". Autostraddle. Retrieved 2016-03-12.