Marilyn Monroe was a legend, an iconic beauty, and a lesbian? That's the word on the street anyway. Marilyn has been dead for almost 50 years, and she is still making headlines.
The fiftieth anniversary of her death is coming up on August 5th. And there have been some new biographies to commemorate the event. One book, Marilyn Monroe: Private And Undisclosed, by Michelle Morgan asserts that many of the blonde beauty's problems stemmed from the fact that she was a closet lesbian.
According to Morgan, Marilyn had affairs with numerous Hollywood stars -- everyone from Marlene Dietrich to, get this, a onetime hook up with Elizabeth Taylor (I'm sure some of you would love to have been a fly on the wall when that tryst was going on...). And she also bedded her female acting coach. The author interviewed actress Celeste Holm who said that Marilyn's endometriosis (which can cause sexual pain, in some cases) made it difficult to enjoy intercourse with a man. In general, it was alleged that she preferred her own sex.
I don't know whether Marilyn was gay or not. Some of the new books argue that Marilyn may have been tortured by that question. But sexual identity tends to be far more fluid in women than in men. One of my best friends is a fairly set-in-her-preferences lesbian, but even she started out her sexual life with a man. Some women start out straight, go gay, and go back straight again (ala Julie Cypher, Melissa Etheridge's ex) and vice versa.
Marilyn may have been gay, or, like a lot of other women, she may have regarded the gender of her lover as less important than who he or she was as a person. I think it is hard to make blanket statements about sexuality -- particularly female sexuality. I can certainly understand her confusion over the issue though, given the era and her status as a heterosexual love goddess.
I found this video on other historical figures who were alleged to have been gay, and I agree with the ending tagline: it's not about who you sleep with, but what you do.