Hi, hello. It’s me, your Friendly Lesbian Media Overlord, checking in on the right way to talk about queer relationships—which, yes, apparently we still need. This week’s case: On Saturday, it was announced that Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth are separating after less than a year of marriage. Soon after, photographs of Cyrus kissing The Hills star Kaitlynn Carter, who also recently ended her relationship with Brody Jenner, surfaced.
A source told People the women are “having fun” together while on vacation in Italy.
So, OK, this may not be a long-term relationship—but that doesn’t stop me from cringing and going into a “gal pal” spiral when I saw comments reducing their potential romance to two besties in need of “girl time” or a “fake” ploy to “mess with their two ex-husbands.”
Here’s what we’re not gonna do: We’re not going to say Cyrus (who has made it clear, multiple times, that she identifies as queer) “can’t be tamed,” call her a “wild child,” or conflate women who love women to feral animals. We’re not going to suggest that being queer is a rebound, a result of emotional trauma that leads to something as insane as trying on a sexual identity for size. We’re also not going to minimize queer female relationships like we’ve historically done. (Yes, I’m available for hire in LGBTQ media sensitivity training, and I’m very expensive.)
What’s a “gal pal spiral,” you ask? Historically, headlines have dubbed women in same-sex relationships as “gal pals.” It’s reductive, as it insinuates that women who are close or openly involved sexually or romantically are just #BFFgoals. Cara Delevingne and Ashley Benson recently went through the “gal pal” cycle after the two were photographed wearing matching gold bangs; reports claimed the women got matching “friendship rings,” despite the fact that Delevingne and Benson confirmed their relationship with an Instagram of themselves kissing labeled #PRIDE. Even after reports surfaced that they got married in Vegas, outlets countered it was only a “friendship ceremony.” Wow, I can’t wait to have a friendship ceremony and hook up with my platonic female partner on our friendshipmoon! Goals!
Delevingne was also gal pal-ed with Michelle Rodriguez when photos of the women kissing surfaced in 2014. Ireland Baldwin once kissed her “gal pal” Angel Haze. And never forget the time Kristen Stewart kept things “low-key in a denim jacket and skin-tight jeans as she steps out with live-in gal pal Alicia Cargile.” Live. In. Gal. Pal!