In Playboy’s new issue, Cameron Diaz was asked about her bisexual role in Being John Malkovich [where she was in love with her boyfriend the sensitive artist, but after he underwent a personality change, became attracted to Catherine Keener. But Catherine only returned the feeling when Cameron’s mind was occupying John Malkovitch’s body.]
*PLAYBOY: In Being John Malkovich your character and Catherine Keener’s explore a trippy kind of lesbianism. How do you view sexuality? *[article by Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello]
DIAZ: We are who we are. We all know what drives us. Sexuality and love can be different things. I can be attracted to a woman sexually, but it doesn’t mean I want to be in love with a woman. If I’m going to be with a woman sexually, it doesn’t mean I’m a lesbian. We put these restraints and definitions on people, but it’s hard to define.
This is not the first time Diaz has made bisexual comments. In 2006, she told The Advocate “I had a major girl crush on Pamela Anderson. Still do—she’s hot as ever—but she was my first.” Some people assumed she was just trying to charm The Advocate’s predominantly LGBT readers. And since she didn’t say she actually slept with Pamela Anderson, it didn’t ignite the controversy of her new Playboy quote. Now that she says she has slept with a woman, I wonder when she said Pamela Anderson was her first, if she meant more than her first female crush… was Pam actually her first female lover?
Anyway, out of a 50 question interview by Playboy, this is the one quote that the press picked up on, which set off a firestorm of controversy on the talk show circuit. People had trouble wrapping their mind around the concept of a woman who could have sex with another woman without being a lesbian. Most insisted that if you have lesbian sex, you must be a lesbian. Not one person ventured the word bisexual, which would be less confusing than the word lesbian, but it doesn’t seem to be in anyone’s vocabulary on TV. They all assume she must either be a lesbian or just trying to get attention or trying to sound young and cool. As if Cameron Diaz needs to make things up to seem cool.
On The View Thursday, Joe Scarborough asked Sherri Sheppard (since she used to live in LA): “Help me understand how things work in Los Angeles. Cameron Diaz comes out, the movie star, and says just because you have sex with a woman, doesn’t mean you’re a lesbian. Can you explain this for those of us who live on the East Coast?
Sherri chalked it up to a phase. But insisted that if a man had ever had sex with another man, that meant he was gay.
Joy Behar insisted that she knows lots of lesbians and being a lesbian is not a phase. I agree. (Except when bisexual women initially identify as lesbian because they assume if they are attracted to women they must be.) But we aren’t talking about lesbians. Cameron Diaz, who has happily been in relationships with Justin Timberlake, Jared Leto, Matt Dillon and video director Carlos de la Torre, is obviously not a lesbian.
Journalist Stephen A. Smith opined: “If you are somebody who is attracted to the same gender, you are what you are,” implying you must be gay. But later when Elizabeth asked if he would be turned off by a woman who had sex with another woman he commented: “The bottom line is we’re not as appalled by the thought of two women together as we are by two men being together.” Joe seconded the motion and told Elizabeth that she’s obviously never been told the truth by her husband, “ask him that question tonight.”
The only talk show guest who really got it right was stylist Robert Verdi, who now has his own reality show on Logo. Appearing on Joy Behar’s other show on HLN he said:
“I think that sex is on an a la carte menu, I don’t think it’s a price fixe thing. I think that we force people to check a box in our culture, in our society, about their sexual proclivities. And I think its much more fluid, much more textured than we care to admit.”
Joy’s other guests were in the other camp. Editor of SOBeFiT Magazine, Marta Martenegro said, “I think that you either are or you’re not” and assumed Diaz was just trying to be cute for Playboy. Comedian Vic Henley chimed in that Diaz was just trying to act cool and seem younger and less cougarish.
Like most bisexual people, the fact that Diaz is capable of being attracted to her own gender doesn’t rule out attraction to the opposite one. Being attracted to both sexes but only falling in love with one, is not uncommon in the bisexual world. I personally could easily fall in love with a woman, a man or someone in between. But I know plenty of people in the bi community who view one sex as more of a strictly sexual turn on and the other for love relationships. Whether it’s due to social conditioning, biology or some je ne sais quoi factor. There is a wide range of bisexual attraction: some bisexual people are more attracted to the opposite sex, some are more drawn to the same sex, some have equal attraction for both and then there are men often referred to as “tranny chasers,” who are fascinated by male-to-female transsexuals, as well as women.
Like many people of bisexual orientation, Diaz doesn’t embrace the bisexual label. As long as she is being publicly open about her feelings, I don’t have a problem with that. Lots of people who hang out in the bi community don’t like labels either. I applaud her for being publicly open and honest about her sexuality because it paves the way for more people to do the same. Cameron is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood and these revelations are not likely to hurt her career. The more people who come out without damaging their career, the more people will have the courage to be open as well.