Real Housewives of New York City star Jenna Lyons recalls ‘shocking’ trauma of being outed

Real Housewives of New York City star Jenna Lyons on being publicly outed.

Real Housewives of New York City‘s first openly gay star Jenna Lyons experience being publicly outed in 2011.

Real Housewives of New York City (RHONY) aired its season 14 premiere episode on Sunday (16 July), ushering in the next generation of housewives with a brand new cast of “six independent and successful women”.

Among them is former J.Crew president and creative director Jenna Lyons, 55, who was “traumatically” outed as a lesbian by the New York Post in 2011 in the midst of her divorce to then-husband of nine years, artist Vincent Mazeau.

Although the Manhattan-based business mogul is now a proud ambassador for the LGBTQ+ community, her journey to being her authentic self hasn’t been easy, as she told the co-hosts of The View on Wednesday (19 July).

The star admitted it was “so hard” to have details about her personal life splashed on the front pages of the New York Post, especially since she wasn’t ready to come out to family and friends.

“It was so hard and I think I hadn’t really been in the public eye that much,” she recalled during the talk show.

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“It was all still new for me and I didn’t really expect anyone to care about what I was doing in my personal life and all of a sudden everyone cared.”

Lyons, who is now CEO and co-creator of eyelash brand LoveSeen, recalled how someone had tipped the New York Post off about a supposedly “intimate dinner” she was having with another woman at a restaurant.

“It was shocking to me,” she continued. “I was not sure what the hell I was doing, it was all so new. I wasn’t official in anyway but apparently the Post was calling the [J.Crew] PR team.

“And they were saying ‘listen can you get on the phone, they’re going to run the story. Would you like to confirm or deny?’ And I don’t know why but I just said ‘confirm’.

“It was like an out of body experience. I was so overwhelmed with everything that was happening in my life that I just said yes but I was shocked that someone took it upon themselves to call the Post and share that information.”

Lyons has previously spoken about her experience discovering her sexuality later in life and the trauma of being outed in a candid article for The Cut. In last Sunday’s RHONY premiere, she recounted the tale of how she figured out she was a lesbian over dinner with fellow Housewives Sai De Silva, Ubah Hassan, Erin Lichy, Jessel Taank and Brynn Whitfield.

Season 14 cast of Real Housewives of New York City.
Season 14 cast of Real Housewives of New York City. (Getty)

“I had no idea!” Lyons told the other Housewives over dinner. “I was in a very tricky situation. My very close friend was gay. And we were having a conversation and my relationship was falling apart with my husband and I asked her, like, ‘what happens with women?’

“Like, I just was curious, I had no idea, honestly. So the same way you probably don’t. And by the end of the conversation, after a lot of detail, I realised that like I was, I felt so hot, like I had never had that feeling before. Like I just wanted to kiss her.”

The close friend was Courtney Crangi and the pair soon embarked on a six-year relationship, which ended in 2017.

Lyons doesn’t underestimate the importance of LGBTQ+ representation in a major franchise such as Real Housewives. She explained on The View why it is so “deeply important”, particularly when LGBTQ+ rights are under threat across the US.

“When I was at J.Crew I had a lot of kids whose parents thought that weren’t going to be successful,” she continued. “They were like ‘my mom is so relieved to see someone so successful who is openly gay’.

“For some reason they thought it was going to limit them, that they couldn’t find success in their career or happiness in love and those things just aren’t true.

“Having someone they can look up to and think ‘listen this person is just surviving in the word, I’m doing fine, I’m thriving’, that gives a lot of parents who are scared a little bit more confidence.”

“Because the kids, they are out, it’s a whole new generation but it’s the parents who are nervous and I understand. You want the best for your kids, you want them to have everything and you don’t want them to have any limitations and it can be seen as a limitation.

“I don’t know why because the sex is amazing,” she concluded with a cheeky joke.

Season 14 of The Real Housewives of New York City airs every Sunday night at 9/8c on Bravo in the US and will be available to stream the next day on Peacock.

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