Sapphic Salon: The Death of An Heiress, The Milking of the Press

Natalie Stein
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If you weren't aware of Casey Johnson while she was alive, you've most likely heard of her posthumously this week. The heiress to the Johnson & Johnson company passed away over the weekend, allegedly due to diabetes-related complications. She was 30-years-old, a mother of her adopted 3-year-old, Ava, and an out lesbian.


Unfortunately, her death has given rise to a very public and heated battle which makes rich people and lesbians alike look very sad and selfish and the media is eating it up. Casey was engaged, recently, to reality television star Tila Tequila. They courted each other only a short time before becoming engaged, as they both came from fresh break-ups, sharing the same ex-girlfriend, Yahoo! heiress Courtenay Semel.

Casey was in the spotlight as a socialite, with famous friends like the Hilton sisters, Lindsay Lohan and Samantha Ronson. She never hid her sexuality, and it never seemed to be an issue publicly with her family or loved ones. Her image, however, becomes increasingly tarnished with the current fights over who loved her, who supported her, who didn't, and who should now take ownership of her beloved dogs.


Tila is more worried about her own image at this time, Tweeting non-stop and asking for the public not to blame her for the death, but to instead celebrate her relationship with the deceased. Casey's family was shocked by her engagement to Tila, and have no interest in maintaining a relationship with her.

Also on Twitter, one of Casey's ex's Jasmine Lennard flinging insults at Tila and begging Nicky Hilton to retrieve Casey's dogs from her. It's a public mess of something private that we have been subjected to this week, and mostly it just makes me incredibly sad.

In the bigger picture, Tila's bizarre videos, Tweeting and press statements about her beloved "wifey" and missing her seem like an attempt at publicity, which, just like her show A Shot at Love make her sexuality seem like a farse and something she utilizes for attention.

To someone who doesn't know any real-life gay women, this isn't the positive visibility we can hope for: Fiancees fighting with their parents and friends, living in rat infested houses, unable to take care of themselves and perishing because of it.

Just like the paparazzi following Lindsay and Sam's torrid relationship, it's an insane blitz of she-said, she-said, with anyone whose willing to come out of the woodwork as a "source" to be used as proof. It's extremely sad that someone's death is treated in the same way, and that the idea of female relationships will continue to be seen as catty and mythical, surrounded by drama and lack of family support.

These aren't our stories — the ones we want reported and talked and Tweeted about, but somehow, nothing else is as sexy enough as the death of a rich blonde and the story of her feuding wife-to-be. The best thing that anyone in Casey's life could have done is kept their matters private, and let her rest in peace, without the world now having an ill-advised opinion of someone they'd never known before.

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11 Comments Have Been Posted

Who cares about this lady?

Who cares about this lady? Its always sad when someone's mom dies, but we just suffered a great loss in the death of Mary Daly. Can you write about that instead?

I agree.

I agree.




It's great when Facebook users care more about homo/bi-phobic bullshit in an article than readers who come directly to Bitch's website. I'll copypasta my comments from Facebook:

I'm not so sure I will be starting up a subscription to Bitch again after this. The shameful part is that I had really been looking forward to it once I had some cash, but I'll likely spend my money elsewhere.

The tone of this article is disgusting and is indicative of Bitch's rapid decline on a whole. While I haven't read a recent copy of the magazine in awhile, I have been keeping up on everything online. I have been constantly disappointed by the declining quality of written online pieces (many of which frankly read like something I'd throw together in my Junior year of high school), and now seeing this borderline bi-phobic article liken Tila Tequila's mourning over her (female) fiancee to a fucking publicity stunt has killed pretty much any desire to get me to keep reading.

I used to love Bitch and get antsy for the next issue as soon as I had finished reading one, but that was also when Bitch used to SUPPORT women, not tear us down. Fuck that noise; if I want to read sexist, lgbt-phobic trash, I'll read People magazine and find out who's too fat, who's too old to wear /that/ dress, and who's in a sham marriage propped up by the Church of Scientology.

At least that shameless pandering isn't hypocritical.


In response to Kelsey, the web editor:


Don't think I won't be sending off a lengthy email. It will take me a little while because I'll probably need to reference specific links in my message.

It's pretty pathetic that it took a threat to never renew again before any concerns were addressed by a rep at Bitch. That's some corporate bullshit and doesn't make me feel like Bitch is an actual alternative to mainstream media in any way whatsoever. That's the way that big corporate conglomerates respond to issues'; when too many people threaten to remove financial support for an org/product/company, then the company suddenly gives a rat's ass.

Also, just because you guys have busted out the "Opinions expressed on this website are those of their respective authors, not necessarily those of Bitch" disclaimer, it doesn't make the article less repugnant and it doesn't make Bitch any less irresponsible here. Are you telling me that Bitch is now going to start regularly featuring articles from Feminists for Life? Or non-liberal feminists? Or Camille Paglia or Wendy McElroy?

I'm guessing that the answer is a big, fat no. After all, FFL is anti-feminist. This article is a beacon of feminism and features opinions that Bitch does not share. FFL, on the other hand, is horrendous. I've got to say, as laughable and annoying as I find Feminists for Life, I have yet to walk away from that website really hating the world. No, I don't agree with their conclusions, but I sadly feel more supported by them than I did in this article. And given that I've had an abortion (and have never once regretted it), that's also pretty fucking pathetic.

But you know how to fix it? Just send out another mass email guilt tripping readers about buying single copies of Bitch at a bookstore instead of signing up for a subscription. That'll fix everything!

-Vicki Moore


I'm reposting these comments because I think they need more visibility and I think that it's sad the critical comments have been hidden away on Facebook.

Drunkenatheist, strictly

Drunkenatheist, strictly speaking reader to reader - this comment isn't useful. I'd be more interested to hear about why you find the post bi-phobia. The line between celebrity gossip and feminist response to pop culture would also be an interesting thing to comment on. It would be cooler if you tried to get a conversation going about those things.

The approach you have taken here is insulting to me as a reader and as a person who has actively participated in critical conversations on this site in the past. I feel reluctant to even respond to your comment because it seems like negative attention seeking behavior, but I feel strongly about this. Quite frankly, it seems like you think you're really speaking truth to power. In reality, you're comment is all too common. All too often, I click on the comments section to see how others are responding, only to find these types of I'm-taking-my-ball-and-going-home-because-I-am-offended type sentiments - speaking not to the community, but to the editors of the magazine. You’re like one of those awful people who yell loudly at the waiter to try to get their meal free. I feel disappointed that Bitch may feel the need to court you. I imagine they would like you as a subscriber to the magazine. It’s a tough time to be a nonprofit. However, from this reader's perspective, your comment is an abuse.

I think the bi-phobic

I think the bi-phobic attitude has its roots in the fact that some women, especially women who frequent nightclubs, get drunk often, and just generally exude an image of 'trashy' or 'slutty' try to gain attention using same-sex relationships. Either they hump each other on the dance floor of a nightclub, kiss in front of an audience or just tell people they're bi, even if they're not. Actual bi women constantly have to defend themselves and their choices because of stereotypes like these. Tila Tequila's image is incredibly skanky, and fits in with the 'kind' of woman you'd see having a "fake lesbian relationship", but it doesn't mean that her relationship really was fake. "Real" lesbians or genuinely bi women can be trashy too. Even if the sexual relationship WAS just for publicity, what difference does it make to the validity of Tila's grief? The two women were obviously great friends and Tila has to be hurting right now. Death of any friend hurts, not just the death of someone you have sex with. I think if a magazine wants to write a critique on 'fake' lesbian relationships in pop culture, they should do it on that merit alone, and not exploit the name of someone who has just died-- or her grieving partner.


The article (at least how it appears to me) is more of a comment on the fact that their relationship is being fleshed out in the public eye, and that the whole thing makes lesbian relationships very much like their stereotypes. How are you finding fault with that? I'm really wondering, because I'm not seeing bi-phobia anywhere in this piece.

Casey Johnson

Remember those comments from our parents: "don't sleep with dogs" and "don't cast your pearls to pigs." Someone with the name Tequila might be too lowly for this woman. (Reminds me of Nicole and Paris Hilton.)

I'd like to add, that the female body is more delicate than the male, and one should not try to keep up with the males regarding drug and alcohol use. Worship your temple ladies.

Great article.

It should also be noted that

It should also be noted that plenty of men cannot control their liquor either, as statistics on alcohol poisoning-related hospital admissions would indicate. I disagree that women who get carried away are merely trying to "keep up with the males" and not just showing the same reckless behavior. Anyone may be a victim of excess.

In an article about bisexual and lesbian women, it is especially distasteful that you assume their activities have anything to do with men. Please refrain from using the word "delicate," which is an interpretation of physical frailty for some. I'm a high school record-holding swimmer. Just because my boyfriend can throw back a few more shots than me doesn't automatically mean I'm feeble and weak.

Title change

From Natalie Stein, "I apologize for anyone who took offense to the title, as I was referring to the relationship as fake, not the lesbians. However, to address your concerns, the post on the website is now changed to 'Sapphic Salon: The Death of An Heiress, The Milking of the Press.'"

As Bitch Media's web editor, I would also like to apologize to anyone who was offended by the original title of this piece, "Sapphic Salon: The Death of an Heiress, The Rise of the Fake Lesbian Relationship." Of course we at Bitch want to respect individuals of all sexualities, and I am sorry if it seemed like we weren't doing that here.

Gee, I don't know....

........Umm, not so quick there Kelsey! I think you might have nailed it in the original title of this piece. I believe quite a few lesbians (myself included) are tired of the rise in "fauxmosexual celesbians." If stories like this are not exactly a Girls Gone Wild vignette they've certainly come pretty darned close IMO. We've morphed from the days of Anne Heche and Madonna to the current run of eccentric if not mentally unstable sapphic bimbos out of Hollywood and NY. Exactly HOW MANY TIMES do we have to see a female celebrity co-opt lesbianism for personal, professional and career gain? What chaps my rear end is the classless shenanigans that only serve to debase all of us, regardless of our sexual orientation.

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