Let’s face it, we all love celebrities, whether we admit it or not. I have such a deep fascination with Hollywood and the lives of the rich and famous… probably because I am neither rich nor famous. But what’s even more tantalizing than a rich and famous celeb? A rich and famous CELESBIAN!
There are celesbians that I stan, celesbians that I love to hate, and celesbians that I hate to love. (Yes, I’m talking about Kristen Stewart.) This is an ode to all the best lesbian red carpet moments of all time.
Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, late 1990s (shown with Gillian Anderson)
When Ellen DeGeneres came out in 1997, it was a big deal. It got her kicked off television for a time. Throughout the repercussions of her coming out, Ellen had Anne Heche by her side, and they killed the red carpet. The couple showed up to red carpets, looking glamorous, despite being barraged by homophobes and the ruthless paparazzi. Ellen’s perseverance after losing her sitcom is the kind of resilience that goes along with being an out lesbian.
Leisha Hailey and k.d. lang, 1997 (at the premiere of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil)
Of all the ’90s lesbian relationships that have seemingly been forgotten, this one is my favorite for several reasons. First, I love Leisha Hailey. She seems like the kindest, most wholesome kind of lesbian. Anyway, she and k.d. lang made such a perfect couple. I imagine them living in a desolate cabin in upstate Vermont, where k.d. plays a song on her guitar while Leisha builds a house with her bare hands. What I don’t have to imagine them doing is wearing weird suits on the red carpet. They did that all on their own in 1997, as shown here, at an event for Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. With lesbian representation being so scarce in the ’90s, lang and Hailey were unapologetically visible and pivotal in normalizing queer relationships in Hollywood.
Lena Waithe, 2018 (Met Gala)
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Everything Lena Waithe does is amazing. She can do no wrong in my eyes. When she showed up to this year’s Met Gala wearing the Pride Flag as a cape, she officially became our Lord and Savior Waithe. Not only did she look amazing, but she also looked like a superhero wearing her queerness as a representation of her superpower. That level of unapologetic queerness is deeply inspiring and uplifting in a time where it feels like everything is so hard. The fact that the Gala’s theme was the connection between fashion and religion, her outfit choice was brave, fierce, and radical.
Amandla and King Princess, 2018 (MTV Video Music Awards)
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If you’re not obsessed with Amandla and King Princess, there is something deeply wrong with you that prevents base level access to simple joys. They’re so precious together: the perfect picture of teen lesbian love. When they walked this year’s red carpet at the VMAs in those weird outfits, I was slightly confused. But I still fully support their choices. They made it all work while looking cute and wholesome. It’s so important that innocence isn’t stripped away from lesbian teens by everyone over-sexualizing their existence. Amandla and King Princess are exactly what lesbian teens need to see, so they can be reminded that youth isn’t antithetical to queerness.
Sarah Paulson, 2018 (Ocean’s 8 premiere)
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I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I don’t have a fantasy where Sarah Paulson and I have a beautiful symbiotic relationship in which she funds my crazy art projects, and I tell her stories about growing up in Africa, and we sometimes go to lesbian parties together. If partying with Sarah Paulson isn’t on your bucket list, I don’t want to know you. She killed all the red carpets during the Ocean’s 8 press tour, earlier this year, but this neon dress shook my world. We stan a feathered lesbian highlighter with a hot pink lip. Ocean’s 8 is part of the lesbian canon, whether you like or not. And this red carpet radiated with big dyke energy.
Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito, 2017 (GLAAD Media Awards)
As an ardent lover of their comedy, I’m obsessed with Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito, both together and separately. I’m not going to embarrass myself by saying how many times I’ve seen them do live stand-up. I remember when the GLAAD Media Awards were happening last year, how excited I was that Esposito was hosting. Then she and Rhea walked onto the red carpet in respective maroon suit and tuxedo. I love a butch-for-butch duo, and it warms my heart to see women wearing well-tailored suits and tuxedos. The media constantly try to force-feed us either an oversexualized or heteronormative vision of lesbian couples, and seeing lesbians dressing for lesbians and not for the male gaze is cathartic. The expectation of women to wear dresses and heels is officially a thing of the past. Ladies, it’s time to suit up.
Kristen Stewart, 2018 (Cannes Film Festival)
I have a love-hate relationship with Kristen Stewart, in that I love that there’s a lesbian heartthrob out in the world. But I hate that she’s problematic sometimes and also kind of bad at acting. All this being said, ever since she came out, she’s been murdering these red carpets. That’s an undeniable truth. This look at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival is so layered, I don’t even know where to start. The glasses watered my crops. The hair fed all of my children. The open suit jacket with nothing underneath cleared my acne. The jewelry and the red detail paid off my credit card bills. This look is just so powerful. The stereotype that lesbians don’t know how to dress or that we exclusively wear flannels was single-handedly undermined by all of Stewart’s looks at Cannes—and by this one, especially. Just because we don’t want to wear corsets that make it impossible to breathe doesn’t mean we don’t love fashion.
Ellen Page and Emma Portner, 2017
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I love a good wholesome lesbian relationship. Emma Portner and Ellen Page are so precious together, they’re just a couple of soft butches in love and living their best gay lives. That weird dance video thing they did was cute, even if I didn’t really get it. Their first appearance on the red carpet together was also so sweet. It’s a very cruel world, and all we want is someone who supports us as much as Partner and Page support each other in everything. (And a secret marriage announced with an aesthetically pleasing picture on Instagram.) Earlier this year, at the LA premiere of Page’s film Flatliners, they literally made headlines for holding hands. That’s a reminder that with all the progress we’ve made, there’s still work that needs doing to normalize lesbian relationships, especially when they’re not based on preconceived notions. That work looks just like this: going out into the world, holding your wife’s hand every day.
St. Vincent, 2015 (BRIT Awards)
There isn’t a red carpet that St. Vincent hasn’t graced with both poise and a little bit of weirdness. This is my favorite because her hair looks like a beautiful bird’s nest. The all black with a red shoe is perfectly reflective of her dark depressing music with fun pop refrains. She’s like the Sour Patch Kids of lesbians. More importantly, however, the 2015 BRIT Awards marked the beginning of St. Vincent and Cara Delevingne’s confusing romance. While I have a hard time understanding what the two of them even talked about, this relationship gave us Masseduction and that album is an undeniable pillar of our community.
Tegan and Sara, 2015 (The Oscars)
I’m still obsessed with the Oscars looks Tegan and Sara served in 2015. I find any excuse to talk about Tegan and Sara because I like mentioning the fact that I saw them perform The Con in its entirety, all acoustic. Anyway, back to the red carpet look. Tegan’s suit is so perfectly fitted and those white platform shoes are perfect. I’m not gonna lie, the skirt was an interesting choice for Sara. I didn’t expect that at all. That burgundy lip was bold, and it worked for her. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around the fact that Tegan and Sara were nominated for an Oscar. Not because I have ever doubted their musical abilities, but because the list of openly gay women nominated for Oscars is minuscule. Seeing lesbian representation on the red carpet felt validating, which is always a nice feeling.
Cate Blanchett: Honorary Lesbian
Cate Blanchett gets mentioned here because I dare you to look at this picture and tell me she doesn’t have a right to be on this list. You can’t.