Anyone can cultivate a lesbian following. But, as Anna Whitelaw argues, it takes more than just celebrity status and publicity stunts to become a true ‘dykon’.
Once upon a time, all you had to do to be crowned a lesbian icon, or dykon, was to be famous, and be gay. Now, it seems you don’t need to be out in order to be regarded as a lesbian icon. Indeed, a celebrity need only dabble in the Sapphic inclinations, or even be merely rumoured to be gay in order to attract dykon status.
You need only go to a Pink concert to realise that you don’t have to be gay to be a dykon. Despite playing up to her faux lesbian chic image, Pink was in fact married until recently to motocross rider, Carey Hart. She isn’t the only pop star to cash in on her lesbian appeal in order to sell records.
Then, of course there are those who become lesbian icons by playing it gay. Most cast members of The L Word are actually straight but that hasn’t stopped them from becoming idols, and sex symbols for lesbians the world over. They aren’t the first either. Lucy Lawless as Xena, Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy (really?) and Jessica Alba as Dark Angel, all developed cult lesbian followings.
Apparently, you don’t even need to be much of a celebrity, either. Recently, I was shocked to hear LA lesbian DJ Sam Ronson, best known for publicly snogging her squeeze Lindsay Lohan, described as a lesbian icon. And former Fitzroy door-bitch and lesbian MTV VJ Ruby Rose has also reached dykon status.
So what makes a dykon anyway? Surely, there should be more to being a lesbian icon than just celebrity, aesthetics, and actual or presumed sexual orientation? The first who spring to mind are, of course, the pioneers: Ellen DeGeneres, kd Lang, Melissa Etheridge and Martina Navratilova. All have earned their stripes as dykons by being among the first women to come out publicly in the face of adversity. For example, despite never being politically minded, DeGeneres got the axe a year after becoming the first female television personality to come out. Likewise, Navratilova lost much of her sponsorship when she came out.
The current wave of dykons include Beth Ditto, the Indigo Girls, and Tegan and Sara. All owe much to the legacy of those women who came before them, who made it possible to be openly gay and still achieve mainstream success.
When we think of dykons, apart from the most obvious celebrities and pin-ups, there are lesbian women across all fields of endeavour and throughout history, more worthy of our admiration than pop stars trying to make a buck such as Frida Kahlo, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and Guinevere Turner.
Back in their day, lesbian icons weren’t just women we wanted to bed, but rather women we wanted to be. Regardless of whether they were actually gay or not, fictional or real-life women, lesbian icons were strong, smart, independent, assertive, capable, non-conformist and outspoken.
No one better epitomises these ideals than the late, great Del Martin, who died recently at 87 with Phyllis Lyon, her partner of 55 years by her side. Martin and Lyon founded the first lesbian organisation in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis, and devoted their lives to campaigning against homophobia and domestic violence, before becoming the first same-sex couple to legally marry in California earlier this year.
Now that’s my idea of a true dykon.
lmao i just wanted tpost this for the word "dykon"