Newly out country western singer Chely Wright is proudly announcing her lesbianism on the covers of People, Curve, and The Advocate magazine. But commedienne Lily Tomlin could have been Time magazine’s first “Yep, I’m Gay” cover almost 35 years ago. ‘Cept, she didn’t.
“I was more insulted than anything. I felt it was a bribe: ‘We need a gay person, and we’ll take anybody!'” says Tomlin of the offer — which she turned down after her friend Vito Russo advised her that it might, yup, affect her career.
But it’s not like Tomlin was closeted at the time. Just not “on the cover of magazines out.” She was already living openly with her still-partner Jane Wagner and all but admitting her homosexuality in sketches on her 1975 comedy album Moden Scream.