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Bearse, Amanda (b. 1958)  
page: 1  2  

As she remarked at the time, "I've been very fortunate. I'm supported by the people I work with. I'm on a hit show. I just renegotiated my contract: It was completely up, and this was a time when they could have easily cut me loose. Fortunately I'm valued there as a person, as an actor, and as a director. Being lesbian is a nonissue on the show."

Indeed, Bearse's coming out had little negative impact on her career. She continued acting and began increasingly to work behind the camera as well, directing numerous episodes of Married . . . with Children and many other sitcoms, such as ABC's Dharma and Greg, FOX's Mad TV, and Reba on the WB network. The comic sensibility and timing that she evinced as an actress has also characterized her directing.

Though her only lesbian acting role to date is Marcy D'Arcy's gay cousin Mandy on a 1997 episode of Married . . . with Children, Bearse has worked with another out comic actor, Rosie O'Donnell, in directing several episodes of The Big Gay Sketch Show, which began airing on gay cable channel Logo in 2007.

Bearse has continued to be a strong advocate for gay rights and gay parenting issues. She was part of a 1995 Advocate profile of gay parents, and, in 1997, brought public attention to lesbian custody issues when her partner at that time, Dell Pearce, a producer of television commercials, was involved in a custody dispute with a former lover.

In the late 1990s she began to work as a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, and she has remained a strong supporter of queer visibility and National Coming Out Day, saying "It's harder to discriminate against a face than an abstract."

Bearse has also served as a "Gay Games Ambassador," signing on to help get the word out about the Gay Games in Chicago in 2006.

In 2010, Bearse and Carrie Schenkman, a Seattle businesswoman who tends to avoid publicity, married in Vermont. The spouses commute between homes in Atlanta, where Bearse has long lived and where her daughter attends high school, and Seattle, where Schenkman lives with her daughter.

In addition, Bearse spends a great deal of time in Los Angeles, where she works on a number of projects.

Tina Gianoulis

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arts >> Overview:  American Television, Situation Comedies

American television sitcoms have consistently reflected the presence of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people, often in distorted and stereotyped ways, but occasionally in ways that acknowledge our humanity and complexity.

arts >> Overview:  American Television, Soap Operas

Treatments of gay relationships on network soap operas have always been limited; recently, however, gays and lesbians have created their own soap operas to tell the convoluted stories of lesbian and gay entanglements.

social sciences >> Overview:  The Closet

If the closet has served to institutionalize homosexuality as shameful and inferior vis-à-vis the legitimate heterosexual culture, it has also provided a space of possibility for subversive sexual and political acts.

social sciences >> Overview:  Coming Out

"Coming out" is the revelation or acknowledgment that one is a member of a sexual minority, a process that is at once personal and social and often political.

arts >> Overview:  Film Actors: Lesbian

Lesbian actresses have played a significant role in Hollywood, but their contributions have rarely been recognized or spoken of openly; the "lavender marriage" is by no means a relic of the past.

social sciences >> Overview:  Parenting

Even though glbtq people have been parents throughout history, recent political movements and advances in fertility technology have given rise to a much more visible and self-identified gay and lesbian parents.

arts >> Bernhard, Sandra

Sharp-tongued comedienne, writer, singer, and actor Sandra Bernhard is known almost as well for her amorphous sexuality as for her cynical wit.

arts >> DeGeneres, Ellen

No matter how great her contribution to the world of comedy, Ellen DeGeneres will probably be best remembered as the first lesbian to star as a lesbian on her own network television show.

arts >> Gay Games

A quadrennial sporting and cultural event designed for the glbtq community, the Gay Games has become a lucrative attraction for host cities.

social sciences >> Human Rights Campaign (HRC)

The largest glbtq political organization in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign has emerged as the leading national organization representing glbtq concerns.

arts >> King, Michael Patrick

Writer, director, and producer Michael Patrick King has been creatively involved in a number of ground-breaking television series featuring gay themes and strong women.

arts >> McDowall, Roddy

British-born actor Roddy McDowall made a graceful transition from a juvenile star to a highly versatile character actor on both stage and screen.

arts >> O'Donnell, Rosie

Comedian, actress, television talk show host, and openly gay mom, Rosie O'Donnell has achieved remarkable success in her relatively short career.

arts >> Star, Darren

Responsible for such pop culture touchstones as Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, and Sex and the City, writer-director-producer Darren Star has had a prolific career in television.


"Catching Up with Marcy Darcy." Southern Voice (July 30, 2010):

Cotter, Katie. "The Parent Trap: A High-Profile Case Involving Television Actor Amanda Bearse Exposes The Moral Dilemmas That Can Arise for Broken Gay Families." The Advocate (February 4, 1997): 29-32.

Gallagher, John. "Gay . . . with Children." The Advocate (May 30, 1995): 28-30.

Greenberg, Steve. "Amanda Bearse: Married . . . with a Child." The Advocate 638 (September 21, 1993): 38.

Jicha, Tom. "Gays Who 'Come Out' Risk Show-Biz Lives." Sun Sentinel (November 15, 1994): 1E.

"'Married' Actress Wants to Open 'Ellen's' Closet Door." Times Union (Albany, N.Y.) (October 4, 1996): D.5.

Romesburg, Don. "September 21, 1993, Amanda Bearse Shatters the TV Closet." The Advocate (September 25, 2001): 22-24.

Warn, Sarah. "Amanda Bearse." After Ellen Because Visibility Matters (January 2003):


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina  
    Entry Title: Bearse, Amanda  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2010  
    Date Last Updated February 16, 2012  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011  


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