There’s an old saying in Hollywood (well, not that old, but time passes quickly in La La Land) that you aren’t anyone in the business until you’ve been rumored to be gay or a lesbian. There may even be some truth to that statement, as no one usually cares to poke and prod into the private lives of any given star until they're actually stars that matter, i.e. stars with fame, money, and power. The paparazzi and entertainment outlets are always on the lookout for a juicy, fresh scandal, and there’s no scandal like a sex-based one, whether it be one that starts in the mansions of Beverly Hills, the recording studios of New York City, or even the halls of power in Washington D.C.
Throw in the still rising influence of social media in the last decade, and it’s a wonder that any celebrity at all avoids rumors of homosexuality. In fact, given that anyone with access to a smartphone can post rumors about anyone else and see them go viral, those starlets who haven’t been said to be lesbians should either thank their lucky stars (you see what I did there, right?) or blame their publicist. After all, like another old saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity!” It certainly hasn’t hurt plenty of leading ladies and divas who have played coy with the media about just such questions.
The following 15 lady celebs have certainly faced their fair share of rumors about their sexuality, often for no good reason. The vast majority of them have gone on record as being straight, but, hey... we’ll let you be the judge of that, right? After all, as I said at the top, rumors are what drive the entertainment industry around.
15 Zoe Saldana
I’m actually pretty unclear on how the whole “she’s a lesbian” thing started for Zoe Saldana, but it’s definitely there. Zoe herself is pretty aware of it, too. She's been quoted as explaining how she might be perceived to be on the other side by claiming, "People have sometimes told my grandmother, 'your granddaughter has a bit of lesbianism in her’... It's that my sisters and I spent all our time among men. We were very popular with them. Our way of thinking is very masculine." I’m not sure what that means, actually. I mean, I get that Zoe is saying she’s a tough, free, modern woman who doesn’t act all demure-like, but is she actually saying people look at her as kind of butch? I must be in the minority then because to my way of thinking, Zoe is anything but butch. Oh well, I guess all we need to know for our purposes here is that she's totally straight.
14 Miley Cyrus
We finish off our list with a lady who doesn't give a flying you-know-what about your perceptions of her sexuality. That’s right. Miley Cyrus doesn’t care about you and your prudish ways. She’s too busy thinking of new ways to destroy the boundaries of all sexuality, it seems. But of course, in 2013, she cut off all of her hair and then adopted a new, sexy bleached-blonde style. The proverbial sh*t hit the fan and the “she’s definitely a lesbian” call went out loud and clear. But in a later interview with the Toronto Sun, Cyrus said of the rumors, “Everyone said I was a lesbian, but I’m like, ‘Being a lesbian isn’t a bad thing. So if you think I look like I’m a lesbian, I’m not offended. You can call me much worse... I’ve been called much worse. Being a lesbian is a compliment more than what else they call me.” I guess Miley didn’t actually come right out and say she’s not a lesbian, but I’m also willing to guess that Miley is looking for something even more shocking and exotic than plain old “gayness.”
13 Mariah Carey
Yup, that’s right. Even the queen of all divas, who has had more high-profile marriages than you can shake a stick (or behind) at hasn’t been immune to rumors of lesbianism. Perhaps, now that I think about it, it’s precisely because of all of her unsuccessful marriages that Mariah Carey fuels so much speculation. But it’s not to be. In 2010, “The Voice,” as she’s known, said, "If it makes somebody happy to say that, then whatever, but that’s not the reality. I don’t have a discriminatory policy of who I’m friends with, so yes, I’m friends with women who are gay — gay, straight, it doesn’t matter to me. So I don’t get upset when I hear that because it is what it is. I guess I could lie about it to seem more exciting." I like Mariah’s comment that she could lie about it to make things hotter -- yes, Mariah, yes! Lie for all of us guys, please!
12 Kelly Clarkson
We’re on a roll here with female singers and their sexuality. The only thing that's changed with our next entry is that the lady in question is better known for her country stylings than for any hip-hop or diva inclinations. We all know Kelly Clarkson from her breakout to superstardom in "American Idol" years ago. She’s been in the spotlight ever since. Now usually, when anybody has anything negative or controversial to say about this sweetheart of America, they tend to attack her body image. That’s right: her adoring public and the shameless media have spent umpteen thousands of hours badgering her about her weight. But every time people get sick of that subject, they, of course, go to another one -- her sexual orientation. Clarkson herself seems perplexed by this, saying in 2011, "People keep saying that I’m gay and … yeah, I’m not. I’m pretty sure I’ve never [even] made out with a girl."
11 Raven Symone
Raven first broke onto the scene as a toddler member of the extended Huxtable family on the smash hit of the ‘80s The Cosby Show (you know, the show that’s not in syndication anymore for some strange reason…). She branched out to star in her own Disney Channel sitcom That’s So Raven in the oughts, which of course means she also was a quasi-successful pop princess for a while. But in recent years, she’s been in the news just as much for rumors that she was gay as anything else. This seems to mostly be because she wasn’t openly involved with a guy. She did come out as bisexual on The Wendy Williams Show in 2014 but refused to be labeled gay. She has also said on Twitter, "My sexual orientation is mine and the person I'm dating to know. I'm not one for a public display of my life." So although some signs may point toward Raven playing for the other team, publicly, she hasn't joined in the team photo.
10 Queen Latifah
Here’s another lady of the microphone who has faced more than her share of challenges about her sexuality. Former MC and longtime TV host Queen Latifah has been dogged by rumors for years, it seems. Part of that, as it is for a few other ladies on this list, is that she has had a very long-standing, very close relationship with her friend, Eboni Nichols. Apparently, if you're a female celebrity, you’re not allowed to have a close personal friend of the same sex without making waves. Since all women appear to thrive on close friendships, I guess that means all women are closet lesbians… Latifah herself has said, "I don’t have a problem discussing the topic of somebody being gay, but I do have a problem discussing my personal life... I don’t care if people think I’m gay or not. Assume whatever you want.” I know that’s not the strongest denial ever, but at this point, the Queen is surrounded by rumors only, not facts.
Just like Dolly Parton before her, Oprah, the “Queen of All Media,” has been dogged by lesbian rumors for years and years. Never mind that she's been romantically involved with boyfriend Stedman Graham since 1986 (that’s only 30 years with the same guy!) and before that had a long history of both good and bad relationships with various men. Oh no, that doesn’t count at all -- the only thing that counts in the world of rumor-mongering is that Oprah has been tight with best friend Gayle King forever, and therefore, must be a lesbian. It’s amazing how this sort of thinking becomes commonplace if enough people repeat that first seedling of a rumor on social media. Before you know it, stars are spending all of their time trying to defend the idea that they still have close childhood or high school friends. It’s pretty crazy; it really is.
8 Whitney Houston
Back we go to the everlasting old trope that a famous lady with a close lady friend has to be gay. Of course, it’s no secret anymore that the late (and much missed) R&B and pop diva Whitney Houston had a lot of marital problems. I mean, she had a lot of problems in general, but being married to Bobby “My Prerogative” Brown was right at the top of all of her troubles. So maybe it’s no surprise the songstress was heavily rumored to be romantically involved with longtime friend (their relationship went all the way back to high school) Robyn Crawford. Bobby himself claimed that she may have had a relationship with Crawford, as did the National Enquirer, but since nobody can really trust either one of those sources as far as they can throw them, the jury is still out, and no absolute certainty may ever be known about Whitney’s private affairs.
7 Whoopi Goldberg
I’m not sure that anybody much cares anymore but the one-time funny lady and star of many ‘80s and ‘90s hits (Sister Act, anyone?) faced a lot of lesbian rumors for a long time. Maybe that’s because she made a career of portraying passionate, intelligent, independent women. Maybe it’s because some of those movies had titles like Boys on the Side (I’m joking -- no one even remembers that movie!). Maybe her very strange marriage to fellow ‘80s icon Ted Danson made people think, “Those two can’t possibly be really together -- she must be hiding something.” Or maybe it’s just because Whoopi as a person and a talk show host is very openly supportive of LGBT rights. Whatever the case, the rumors have flown, and Whoopi answered in 2006, saying, "No, I am not a lesbian. I describe myself as heterosexual. I think it is hard to have good relationships with anyone." So there.
6 Kate Hudson
Here’s a weird one. You would think an actress most famous for portraying a ‘70s rock & roll groupie wouldn’t face these sorts of rumors about her sexuality, especially when said actress also married a real-life rock & roller (that would be Chris Robinson of Black Crowes fame). But that’s exactly what Kate Hudson has faced. Now, I know the two did divorce awhile back, but only a couple years later, she became heavily involved with another frontman for another band -- this time, Matt Bellamy from Muse. She has kids with both of these guys. As to how Hudson became fodder for the rumor mill, your guess is as good as mine. In case you think there’s something there, though, here’s Hudson’s most recent comment upon the whole thing: "No, no, no. Strictly boys for me!" Hmm, I wonder what she really means by that…
5 Jennifer Hudson
Here’s the problem when you’re famous. You can’t do anything without it being analyzed for hidden meaning. A case in point (and our next celebrity lesbian rumor) is Jennifer Hudson’s choice to perform the pro-gay marriage hit "Same Love" with Macklemore and Mary Lambert at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. As soon as she did so, she was deluged with rumors of her closeted gay lifestyle. Even being an Oscar-winning actress and successful singer couldn’t stop those rumors. So in 2014, she took charge of the gossip and told the magazine PrideSource, "People were like, 'Is Jennifer trying to tell us something?' Hey, I wasn't, but if you wanna think that, it's all right with me." She also said, "When I got the call [to do that performance], I was like, 'Oh my God, I definitely wanna do this. A powerful statement is being made and I wanna be a part of that.'" Jennifer, you should have known the celebrity rumor-machine was gonna go after you!
4 Dolly Parton
We start off with the oldest star on our list, and perhaps, the biggest. She’s certainly the biggest in one particular area -- if you can’t figure out what I mean, shame on you. If you can figure out what I mean, oh you dirty dog you! Dolly Parton has been married to her husband, Carl Dean, for almost half a century. But that hasn’t stopped speculation about her relationship with her childhood best friend, Judy, which many have assumed is a lesbian one, for no good reason. Dolly compared her rumors with those about Oprah (don’t worry we’ll get to that), saying, "Like Gayle [King], her friend, Judy, my friend...they just think that you just can't be that close to somebody. Judy and I have been best friends since we were like in the third and fourth grade. We still just have a great friendship and relationship, and I love her as much as I love anybody in the whole world, but we're not romantically involved." We believe you, Dolly!
3 Alicia Keys
Back to the songstresses we go. Because why not? After all, these are very high profile ladies who tend to write about love and loss a lot. So I’m sure plenty of people conflate that with some kind of longing on the part of the writer to experience same-sex affairs. I don’t, though. I’m certainly no pop psychiatrist; maybe I’m just blowing smoke. Maybe people just like to be gossipy and mean, and questioning another’s sexuality is about as gossipy and mean as one can get. At any rate, singer Alicia Keys has been the subject of multiple rumors before, mostly because she used to dress sort of “mannish” and braided her hair. 'Cause that makes sense. Anyway, she said about those rumors, “It was just walking and kept walking,” and I said, ‘Where are you going with this?'” She totally denies ever being a lesbian.
2 Kristen Stewart
A lot of people have speculated about which team Kristen plays for over the years. It seems to have all started over some confusion when she was asked about her romance with then Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson in 2009. What she said in response to that question left people thinking she might be a lesbian, basically because she didn’t say she wasn’t! In her more recent thoughts about the matter, she has stated, "I've thought about this a lot. There's no answer that's not going to tip you one way or the other. Think about every hypothetical situation. 'OK, we are. We aren't. I'm a lesbian.' I probably would've answered if people hadn't made such a big deal about it. But I'm not going to give the finding an answer." I’m not quite sure where Kristin stands; she still hasn’t really announced that she’s a lesbian in a believable way -- her “I’m so gay” speech on SNL seemed tongue in cheek -- but the rumors haven’t stopped flying and probably won’t.
1 Jada Pinkett Smith
This is a totally fun rumor that appears to be founded in wishful thinking, if nothing else. Basically, the story goes that not only is Jada Pinkett Smith gay but so is longtime husband and megastar in his own right Will Smith. How juicy can it get? The rumor is that the two are married to each other precisely because they're both gay and need the cover provided by their marriage. Will himself didn’t help the idea that they have an “open marriage” by saying in 2005, “Our perspective is that you don’t avoid what’s natural. You’re going to be attracted to people. In our marriage vows, we didn’t say ‘forsaking all others.’ The vow that we made was that you will never hear that I did something after the fact. If it came down to it, then one can say to the other, ‘Look, I need to have sex with somebody. I’m not going to if you don’t approve of it – but please approve of it.” Here’s the thing though -- even if Will and Jada seem a little weird, there’s no indication in that statement that either one wanted to sleep around with the same sex.
Sources: huffingtonpost, bossip