Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Last night, I saw Lily Tomlin at the Pioneer Center for the Performing Arts here in Reno.

She was there to kick off a brand new series titled "Smart Talk: Women's Lecture Series." The season-long program features five well-known and revered women speaking about various issues. Lily, of course, broke the mold and didn't really "talk" about women's issues, as much as she did skits and pieces which definitely said a lot, but via laughter instead of hard-hitting points.

Walking to the theater, I found myself surrounded by throngs of women going the same direction. And not just any women. Lots and lots of butch lesbians. In fact, I had never seen so many butch lesbians in my entire life, even at the various Gay Pride Parades I attended in San Francisco.

As I got closer to the theater and encountered more and more butch lesbians, I had an epiphany. Of sorts. Lily Tomlin is gay. Of course! Why hadn't I ever clued into that fact before?

Probably because, like most comediennes, her life isn't really held up for scrutiny by the media. Most tabloids and paparazzi are much more interested in the likes of celebutantes like Paris Hilton, the fidelity-impaired antics of men like Eric Benet, the divorce proceedings of Hollywood power couples like Braniston, and the whacked out zaniness of the Courtney Loves than to focus on the (now oh! so yesterday) sexual preferences of comediennes. In fact, the only time I can ever remember the press making an issue of a comedienne's sexual preference was with Ellen DeGeneres, and I'm still not entirely sure why it hit the press so hard back in the day.

To me, Lily Tomlin has just always been Lily Tomlin. I loved her skits on Laugh-In. I have enjoyed seeing her guest star on various TV shows over the years. I've found her to be a refreshing guest on talk shows. I guess I just accepted her at face value, and never thought to scrutinize her sexual preference. It was just never that important.

And that's how it should be. Why should we even care that Ricky Martin might be gay? Or that Anne Heche is bi-sexual, no she's gay, no she's straight? We shouldn't.

I will admit, though, I do have a problem with anyone who markets themself as one type of person, and is actually another. This issue doesn't restrict itself to sexual identity, though; it embraces it all, from the Christians who market themselves as saints, yet cheat on their spouses, to the self-proclaimed vegan who thinks its okay to have a leather couch in their home, just because "it was free." I'm all for people being their authentic selves, and all against pretense.

Oh sure, I know we all have our masks... women have cosmetics. Men facial hair. We may act one way at an office function, and another at the home of a friend. But, those masks aren't pretentious as much as they are just different facets of us. It's not that we're hiding behind those masks; we use them to accentuate our positive aspects and character traits. After all, it just wouldn't be couth to play a drinking game at the office, nor would it be considered appropriate behavior to be stiff and formal at our friend's home.

Enough with the postulating already, and back to Lily Tomlin. She was great last night, as always. However, more than her performance I loved the fact that, throughout all these years, I've never thought of her in any other way than just a funny comedienne.

Wouldn’t it be a much nicer world if we always focused on the person and not their sexual preference?

(BTW, in case anyone is wondering, my sexual preference is no sex. Just ask hunky!)

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