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lilytomlinAfter more than 40 years together, US actor and comic Lily Tomlin has revealed that she and her partner, writer Jane Wagner, are seriously considering tying the knot.

Tomlin’s revelation came at the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Pre-Emmy Performers Peer Group reception in California this week.


“It’s true – we’re thinking that maybe we’ll get married,” Tomlin announced in her typically sanguine, off-the-cuff manner.

The 73-year-old, who has had a phenomenally successful career in film, television and theatre, has since admitted that both she and her 78-year-old partner never thought that they would see same sex marriage legalised in their lifetime.

During Tomlin’s long show business career, she has endured repeated hurtful jabs about her sexuality.

Former US late night television talk show host Johnny Carson took a nasty dig at her live on air and Tomlin has since admitted she struggled with the concept of publicly revealing her lesbianism.

“It is remarkably wonderful to me that celebrities today can be openly gay, because I was on Carson one night, back in ’73. He said to me, knowing full well what he was saying, and that I was gay, ‘Well, now, you’ve never been married, have you?’” Tomlin recounted in a 2011 interview.

“I said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘But don’t you want to have children?’ And you could hear the audience got dead silent, because, in those days, if a girl said she didn’t want to have or children or plan to get married it was, you know, well, something’s terribly wrong with you.”

Tomlin revealed that in 1975 Time magazine offered her the cover if she wanted to come out in public, but she refused the offer.

Over the years, as public attitudes regarding homosexuality have evolved, so too have Tomlin’s feelings about coming out.

She’s since admitted that she regrets not having done the Time cover.

“I was wrong. I was, at the time, more insulted than anything. I felt it was a bribe. They wanted a gay person on the cover and I felt they’d take any gay person and I was it. In some ways, I do regret not taking it,” Tomlin said.

“But, at the time, my inflated idea about myself as an artist superseded everything. It was also hard on my mother, who also had a gay son, because she was concerned that the rest of the family would be critical and I’d suffer.”

In 1995, Tomlin narrated the prize-winning HBO film documentary, The Celluloid Closet, about the history of portrayals of GLBT characters in cinema.

She admitted last year that openly gay writer Armistead Maupin, who wrote the narration for the film, had been “hugely displeased with the absurdity of having a closeted person like me narrate it.”

It was not until 2000 that Tomlin publicly came out during an interview with New York cable-access TV program Gay USA.

As she explained: “I’m not going to make a big national case of it, which is what, really, everybody would like to do, or some people, anyway. In most articles or whatever, most people refer to Jane as my partner or life-partner or whatever.

“We’ve been around and together so long and been through so much that I always kind of took a lot of stuff for granted. I also never wanted to be anybody’s spokesperson or poster person. I just always lived very simply and openly.”

Tomlin and Wagner have lived through decades of gradual but massive social, cultural and political change with regard to attitudes towards homosexuality.

In 2012, Tomlin told lesbian radio host Rosie O’Donnell that, when she and Wagner were doing television specials together in the 1970s and 80s.

“One of the writers said to me, ‘I think you and Jane should come to work in separate cars.’ The implication being: we know you’re together, but we don’t want others really knowing, if we can help it,” she recalled.

Fast forward decades and recent rulings by the US Supreme Court mean that Tomlin and Wagner, who met in 1971, could marry.

Tomlin was, however, careful to emphasise that their nuptials would likely be far from traditional.

“Nobody really needs to get married, but marriage would be awfully nice. Everybody I know who got married, they say it really made a difference. They feel very happy about it,” she mused.

Tomlin then drily joked: “It would not be what most would want – there would be no rings, no bridal dresses. Maybe we’ll dress as chickens.”

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