By now, America’s Next Top Model isn’t just a reality show—it’s an international brand that has spawned competitions in dozens of countries and is seen—in American and foreign versions—in 170 different countries including Lithuania, Estonia, Hong Kong, China, Australia, Albania, Croatia, Russia, and South Korea. (That’s more countries than have a AAA credit rating at this point.)
Top Model isn’t just a Tyra Banks success story, it’s an American success story, an import of our mores and values and a novel way to get pretty girls on TV. The series has always featured lesbian, bisexual, and queer-identified girls from the butchy lesbian Ebony Haith in 2003, to this year’s lesbian all-star Kayla Ferrel. Megan Morris, Kim Stolz, Leslie Mancia, Michelle Babin, Michelle Deighton all had a shot at the crown. The 18-year-old Ukranian born, Seattle-based lesbian Elina Ivanova was sure to be a winner according to Vegas odds makers. But even she failed to win.
Though Adrianne Curry won Cycle 1 of the show, her bisexuality wasn’t exposed during the show and anyone whose seen her “I’m not a lesbian, I’m a Chrissian” rant on YouTube knows that in subsequent years she’s spent more time denying her sexuality than embracing it.
But news came recently that Denmark’s newest Top Model winner is lesbian model Julie S. Hasselby. A lovely blonde who looks a lot like a young David Bowie at times, was met with adulations and some message board punditry suggesting the judges chose her over the other two finalists because they “wanted” a lesbian.
Hasselby was not the first Top Model winner who is lesbian. The 25-year-old openly gay model Nanna Grundfeldt was named Finland's Top Model during that spin-off’s second season. At the time, Grundfeldt was the first out lesbian to win one of the 30 versions of
America's Next Top Model around the world
So with Europe leading the way (again), its time to ask why a show that’s filled with fashion’s gays—judges like Andre Leon Talley, coaches including J. Alexander and Jay Manuel, and designers (all of them)—has never had a lesbian or bisexual winner stateside after 17 seasons. Certainly dykes can booty tooch and smize just as well as their straight counterparts.