Reports: Fashion Maven Divorcing Hubby, Involved With Another Woman

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday October 27, 2011

Fashion maven and J. Crew President Jenna Lyons is divorcing her husband of nine years--and, reports say, she's found new romance with another woman.

Lyons, who is also the company's creative director, provoked the anti-gay right earlier this year when she ran a photo in a J. Crew advertisement that showed her together with her son, Beckett, whose toenails were painted pink. 'Phobes pounced on the pic not as a playful portrait of a loving parent having fun with her offspring, but rather as a talking point in the scientifically unsupported argument that kids can be "turned gay" or "turned trans" if gender stereotypes are not strictly enforced.

The ad's caption adopted a first-person perspective from Lyons' vantage and read, "Lucky for me I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink.

Added the caption, "Toenail painting is way more fun in neon."

The anti-gay Media Research Center hastily slammed the ad, suggesting that Lyon's young son might somehow be transformed into a transgender or gay person with the application of a little colored varnish. ABC News reported on the tempest generated by the ad on April 13.

Calling the ad a "blatant propaganda celebrating transgendered children," the Media Research Center's Erin Brown declared, "Not only is Beckett likely to change his favorite color as early as tomorrow, Jenna's indulgence (or encouragement) could make life hard for the boy in the future."

Brown did not clarify in what way the child would suffer, but the implication appeared to be that an assumption was at work that the boy either was transgender, or was at risk of being somehow converted into a transgender individual.

"J. Crew, known for its tasteful and modest clothing, apparently does not mind exploiting Beckett behind the facade of liberal, transgendered identity politics," Brown added.

Trans advocates were not so sure that gender identity could be so easily influenced.

"This is not how the world works and not how children work, and not even how trans advocacy works," the head of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Kiesling, said.

"Complaints about the ad are totally blown out of proportion," added Kiesling. "It's just a cute ad with a cute mom-and-son scene and the kid wants to wear pink nail polish."

Dr. Jack Drescher, an expert on GLBT sexuality, was equally calm and confident that Beckett's psyche was in no danger from either nail polish or the color pink.

"I can say with 100 percent certainty that a mother painting her children's toe nails pink does not cause transgenderism or homosexuality or anything else that people who are social conservatives would worry about," Dresher told the media.

"First of all, no one knows what causes transgenderism, and the idea that painting toenails pink causes it has no scientific validity," Drescher added. "What we do know is many people feel that it is their role to police gender and tell them what correct behavior is for boys and girls."

There is no medical evidence to indicate that human sexuality can be shaped by either defying or conforming to social gender norms. Similarly, transgender individuals say that their sexual identity is innate, and is not influenced by external factors.

Lyons' company drew plaudits from GLBT equality advocates only a few weeks after the flap, which comedian Jon Steward dubbed "Toemageddon," by including a gay employee and his same-sex life partner along with heterosexual employees and their opposite-sex spouses in a catalogue that celebrated the talent behind the clothing retail giant.

The May catalogue from J. Crew boasted pictures of the company's staff putting their money where their fashions were and modeling that company's wares themselves. Among the photos of the company's multi-racial employees and their equally diverse families was one of a gay designer and his significant other.

The couple was presented as matter-of-factly as the other J. Crew employees were, together with family with the photo's caption reading, "Our designer Somsack and his boyfriend, Micah."

"Nothing is unintentional in this kind of marketing," Cathy Renna, the head of LGBT-focused company Renna Communications, said. "Bravo to J. Crew."

"As an activist, it's great to see a diversity of images and to see gay families represented in more regular media," Renna added.

The New York Post reported on Lyons' alleged same-sex affair on Oct. 25, couching the news in details of the J. Crew president's seven-figure income (around $5 million per year) and her split from husband Vincent Mazeau, an artist.

"Lyons has fallen in love with another woman who also works in the fashion business," the article read.

The Post recalled that Lyons was featured on Oprah Winfrey's now-defunct talk show, with Lyons giving viewers a glimpse at her personal wardrobe.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.