Shameless Queer Media Plug #1

I was devastated when CBS cancelled Guiding Light.

If you’re still reading this and not either laughing hysterically or doubled over in pain, let me explain a few things. Over the last year, CBS daytime soap Guiding Light developed what appeared to be one of the most realistic, heartfelt, and honest lesbian storylines ever on television. Olivia Spencer, played by the smoking hot Crystal Chappell, and Natalia Rivera, played by the equally smoking hot Jessica Leccia, grew to love each other after a lengthy turn as enemies. There’s a ton of backstory I won’t get into, but the organic development of the Olivia and Natalia (or Otalia and it has been dubbed) relationship from enemies to friends to lovers was artfully crafted and beautifully executed by two actors with the most tangible chemistry I’ve ever seen.

But there were two major hangups. One, Guiding Light was cancelled, so the storyline had to be wrapped up sooner rather than later, forcing a bit of the magic to get squeezed out due to time constraints. Two, the “powers that be” decided that the two women would not be expressing any physical intimacy on screen, leaving them to engage in a lot of sensual hand-holding and leaning into each other’s forehead. Sexy. Or not.

So Guiding Light ended last month after 75 years, our gorgeous later-in-life lesbians were officially “together,” yet we didn’t get a payoff. Crystal Chappell decided to do something about it, and here is where my plug comes in.

Chappell, along with her writing partner Kim Turrisi, is developing Venice, a web-based series about a lesbian woman named Gina who is trying to maneuver life, love, and her career in Venice Beach, California. Venice will also pair Chappell back up with her Guiding Light co-star Jessica Leccia, and has promised the payoff that the viewers didn’t get with Otalia.

Does it sound exploitive? I don’t think it will be, honestly. Chappell has stated in numerous interviews that it isn’t about just showing girl-on-girl, but it’s about showing relationships in as much honesty as possible. There comes a point when two people in love wouldn’t NOT kiss when they saw each other, and that’s where the real problem with the Otalia storyline was. The gist of Venice, as I understand it, is that Gina is an out lesbian but the story isn’t about her sexuality or coming to terms with her sexuality – her sexuality is just a piece of who she is. If Chappell succeeds in normalizing the lesbian experience, physical intimacy and all, I think she will have championed the most realistic portrayal of the same-sex female experience I’ve ever witnessed. It should be noted that Chappell, Turrisi, and the rest of the cast and crew are, at least for now, producing Venice as a labor of love. The need to tell the story was important enough that this group of people are using their personal resources to make it happen.

So here’s your shameless queer media plug, Crystal. You deserve it!

Venice will begin airing episodes online in November (I will post about this again when the time comes). You can find more information about the show, check out video and audio interviews with the creators and stars, and join the online fan community at

I leave you with Venice production still hotness, courtesy of – Jessica Leccia as Ani on the left, Crystal Chappell as Gina on the right. I’ll be watching… will you?



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