HOLLYWOOD - During her 10 years as a famous person, Lindsay Lohan has worn a dizzying number of public masks.
She began as a Disney tween queen and a box-office lure. That unraveled soon enough, as she became another wounded, doomed celebrity girl careening through the tabloid world: Lohan the despondent daughter of reckless parents, the on-the-set monster destroying her career and holding up expensive productions, the luckless dater whose boyfriends and hookups trash-talked her and did her no good, the cocaine-and-alcohol-fueled road menace who seemed rehab-resistant.
But lately, there's been another twist in the Lohan saga. The cogs in the celebrity news machine have been regularly publishing reports about her relationship with DJ Samantha Ronson.
Which from all happy and seemingly sober appearances - they kiss, they hug, they hold hands, they shop for groceries - is a romantic one.
Neither Lohan nor Ronson has spoken to the media about their relationship, and not surprisingly, Lohan's publicist would not comment nor make Lohan available, writing in an e-mail that Lohan "wants to keep her private life private." (Ronson likewise did not respond to a request for comment made through her Web site.)
Yet the celebrity magazines have kept the stories coming. Mainstream editors used to be squeamish to the point of erasure when it came to unconfirmed same-sex relationships. Unless a star was willing to say, "Yep, I'm gay," as Ellen DeGeneres so famously did on the cover of Time in 1997 - and as a trickle of others have in years since - most publications generally have employed their own form of don't ask/don't tell when covering gay or bisexual celebrities who have not come out via press release or some other explicit declaration.
While many celebrities themselves have stopped hiding their same-sex relationships, the media have not until Lohan followed suit. Michael Musto, an openly gay columnist for the Village Voice, says, "I've read things in gossip columns that would never go there in the past and realized, 'Wow, they're going there now.' They don't consider gay a dirty thing anymore. And it's very cool."
Kate Aurthur writes for the Los Angeles Times.