Singer Vanessa Carlton made headlines over the weekend by declaring to the crowd at the Nashville Pride concert that she is a proud bisexual woman. Carlton’s admission follows “True Blood” star Anna Paquin’s claim in a PSA that ran in April that she, too, is bisexual.
Is a bisexual confession simply a safe way for women to inch out of the closet? Is it a boon for the gay community? Or is it all a publicity stunt?
“Coming out as bisexual is a safe thing for a woman to do. For a woman to say she is bisexual today brings about as much stigma as saying she had braces as a child. Society has changed,” explains Michael Levine, Hollywood publicist and media expert. “In fact saying she is bisexual might even gain her some attention which will correlate to visibility for whatever she is working on.”
Bisexuality in Hollywood is a careful hedging of bets between appealing to a gay audience without alienating the heterosexual audience, say experts. Coming out as bisexual rather than gay may also be more palatable to an American male audience that finds something alluring about female bisexuality.
“Sometimes female celebrities say they are ‘bisexual’ as a way to get attention, not because they are really lesbians looking for a safe way to come out,” says psychiatrist Carole Lieberman. “Women know that men fantasize about seeing two women becoming sexual together, so claiming to be bisexual brings female celebs instant buzz.”