Out 100 10th Anniversary

11.4.2004

By Bruce Shenitz

Governor Jim McGreevey

Was it courage in the face of alleged blackmail threats? An exit strategy from questions of political corruption? The truth may never come out, but with five words from a speech''I am a gay American''New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey certainly did. For better or worse, he now holds the mantle of the highest-ranking openly gay politician in U.S. history.

Ellen DeGeneres

2004 was very DeGeneres to TV's newest lesbian talk-show host, whose delightfully daffy dance moves and flighty monologues earned her a well-deserved Emmy. The daytime hipster's ratings kept sizzlin' this fall, too, proving she's no flash in the pan. Oh, and speaking of flames, Ellen proudly carried the Olympic torch and looked stylin' as our February cover girl.

Ilene Chaiken and Leisha Hailey

True fans of The L Word know that the show is much more than a bunch of pretty faces. And while that part doesn't hurt, it's the accurate portrayals of dyke life'from Jenny's confused whimpering to Shane's butch bravado'that really make the Showtime series shine. That true-to-life feel can be credited in large part to the two out women who sit high on The L Word totem pole: Ilene Chaiken (pictured, left), show creator and executive producer, and Leisha Hailey (pictured, right), who portrays bisexual Alice with bubbly charm. 'I wouldn't want to characterize the show as a bunch of straight people and then me and Leisha, because everybody's pretty sophisticated,' says Chaiken. 'But we definitely live our lives as out lesbians, and sometimes we wind up talking with a certain amount of authority because of that.' And that's something all queers can appreciate. 'Before we went on the air, there was a presumption that gay men weren't going to be interested, because there was nothing in it for them,' Chaiken says. 'But I didn't believe that to be the case. We're friends. We love each other and are interested in each other's stories.' Plus, adds Hailey, 'With the amount of drama on our show, I can't see why gay men wouldn't like it.'

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