All Quiet on the Lesbian Front

Even in death, Susan Sontag is stirring up controversy. In press
accounts of her life, the

New York Times
, the
Los Angeles Times, and the

Associated Press
, among others, chose not to mention Sontag’s
alleged lesbianism, nor report on her romantic affiliation with
notable artists, such as choreographer Lucinda Childs and
photographer Annie Leibovitz.

In a

commentary in the Los Angeles Times
, Author Patrick
Moore takes issue with the omission, surmising that the editors of
these major papers chose to ignore Sontag’s lesbian identity
because the author, filmmaker, and vocal activist was
coy
(but far from convincing) on the subject
. He goes on to guess
that Sontag tried to remain elusive about her sexuality because it
made her a less threatening intellectual — brainy, but still
available to men.

In 1995, Sontag did out herself in an article published in the
New Yorker, and she again spoke openly about the subject with
The Guardian in 2000. In the later interview, though, she
denied having a sexual relationship with Leibovitz, saying that the
two were simply ‘close friends.’

Washington
Blade
correspondent Steve Koval
writes that even if it
made sense for Sontag to deny her lesbianism for political, even
philosophical reasons, there’s no excuse for the mainstream press
to de-gayify a prominent figure after their death. As one of her

ardent fans wrote in their personal blog
: ‘I’d like to think
that someone with whom Sontag shared so much time, space, and
public visibility, could at least get mentioned. It seems like a
kind of erasure to me.’ Erasure of lesbian women, scholars argue,
has made it difficult to decode the lesbian experience.

Sontag was
blackballed
after her frank criticism of the ‘war on terror’
following the
attacks on 9/11.

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