Meet the Woman Behind the Vogue Petition

Photo courtesy of Julie Rodriguez

When Julie Rodriguez read the cover story in the latest issue of Vogue, she was thrilled to learn that Cara Delevingne, the beautiful 22-year-old model, had come out as bisexual and was now with a woman.

Julie could identify, you see.  The 29-year-old from San Mateo, a city in Northern California’s Silicon Valley, is also bisexual.  And, so is her husband. “In fact, most of our friends are gay or lesbian or bisexual,” Julie tells Bisexual.org in an exclusive interview.

But then, something irked Julie.

The writer of the Vogue article, Rob Haskell, talks about Delevigne’s same-sex relationship with female singer Annie Clark (whose stage name is St. Vincent) and characterized it as “a phase.”

Model Cara Delevigne on the cover of Vogue

The model said in the interview:  “If I ever found a guy I could fall in love with, I’d want to marry him and have his children.” But then, the article continues: “Her parents seem to think girls are just a phase for Cara, and they may be correct.”

Julie saw Haskell’s commentary as the worst kind of bisexual erasure. In his act of dismissing bisexuality as nothing more than a phase, she had witnessed discrimination first-hand. In her own life, most of Julie’s family is very accepting and supportive of her bi identity, but there is a constant need to explain her sexuality. She had had enough of people’s ignorance. “I read the article, then I got cranky about it,” Julie tells Bisexual.org. “I had the petition up in half an hour.”

She is asking for an apology to the LGBT community from the author of the piece, Rob Haskell, and fromVogue’s Editor-in-Chief, Anna Wintour.  Within 24 hours, she had 8,000 signatures on the Care2 petition.  It spread like wildfire.  Then, the London Daily Mail, E! Online, Salon, The Hollywood Reporter and the Huffington Post covered the petition.

“I was worried when I heard Fox News was doing a piece, but my friends said it was pretty even-handed,” Julie says. “I have more than a dozen links to stories about the petition.”

It’s one of the fastest-growing Care2 petitions, (and at publication time it is running toward 15,000).

“I’m really surprised that it is getting so many signatures, and I’m very surprised by the international media attention,” Julie says. “It has hit a nerve. More and more people are coming out as gay or bisexual and everyone knows someone who is gay or bi. This is not a phase.”

quoteJulie says, “The idea that queer women only form relationships with other women as a result of childhood trauma is a harmful (and false) stereotype that lesbian and bisexual women have been combating for decades. How could Vogue’s editorial staff greenlight this article and publish it without anyone raising concerns about this dismissive and demeaning language?”

As a writer who works in Internet marketing (particularly on environmental issues), Julie knows the power of social media. She also knows that Vogue has a lot of eyes carefully editing the magazine.  “This is a high-profile magazine and they should be mindful in the future about bisexuality,”Julie insists. “Bisexuality is not understood very well by some people in the media; there’s a lot of misunderstanding or ignorance about it. I don’t think the editor or writer was purposefully trying to be insulting.”

Julie felt compelled to do something to help make sure that the media does a better job with bisexual stories in the future. “It’s weird that someone let this get through. It’s a major flub. When they handle trans stories like the Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner issue so sensitively, they should also apply that [consciousness] to bisexuality.”

So far, some of the petition signatories from all over the world have had some very pointed responses, calling the story homophobic, insensitive and demeaning, such as:

  • “My daughter is gay and it is NOT a phase; it is an integral part of who she is and I love and accept her, for who she is!” – Robert Wallace, CA
  • “As a longtime subscriber to Vogue, I am very disappointed in the lack of empathy and care that Rob Haskell shows in his interview with Cara DeLevingne. Surely Mr. Haskell is a better listener, interviewer, and writer than this piece of his demonstrates. Vogue has made efforts to support the LGBT community; however, allowing this article to go to print makes me question how sincere this support is on their behalf. Vogue, please apologize for publishing such a careless and offensive piece in your pages. Thank you.” – Michelle Sorensen, TN
  • “As a clinical psychologist working primarily within the LGBT community I find your piece on Ms. Delevingne quite misleading. Your writer clearly needs to be educated on LGBT issues.”’Martha Webb wrote
  • “Dear Vogue, I have been in a queer “phase” for the entire 50 years of my life. I think it is much more than a phase for millions of us. And I would have thought that you would know better than to perpetuate such dismissive, demeaning, and harmful stereotypes. I am deeply disappointed and believe a full, prominent apology is the very least that you can do for your readership.” – James Ferguson, NY
  • “I’m a bisexual woman who’s been out of the closet since 1994. I’m pretty sure it’s not a phase. Instead of opting to have a teachable moment in how we discuss LGBTQ individuals, Vogue decided to completely deride and devalue Cara and other bisexuals. Shame on you!” —Leah Crenshaw-Pepke.

So far, Vogue and Delevingne have yet to comment on the petition.

Julie says she’s “a very busy person” and is far from being a bisexual activist.  But, she does care about her identity, and she is making a point now—in a big way.

See the Care2 Petition, and sign it here:

www.thepetitionsite.com/895/990/572/

Mike Szymanski
Mike Szymanski has written about bisexual issues since 1989 and has one of the longest-running regular bisexual columns as the National Bisexuality Examiner. He came out as bisexual in a cover story of Genre magazine, which resulted in more than 50 television appearances, including Ricki Lake, Phil Donahue Show and 20/20. Szymanski won the Lambda Literary Award in 2007 for co-authoring an informative humor book “The Bisexual’s Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways.” Write him at [email protected]