The initiation of #Brangelexit on Tuesday—in which the most important celebrity power couple of the last two decades voted (against the will of the people!) to end their union—has launched us all on a search for meaning. What’s really behind Angelina Jolie’s call for divorce? Has Brad Pitt truly been misbehaving with “hard drugs and Russian hookers,” as one Page Six source alleges? Who is Marion Cotillard? But there’s another question worth asking, one regarding the timing of all this. Simply put: Why now?
The fantastic lesbian writer Mary Emily O’Hara has a theory—and it’s one, given the couple’s besmirched history with the queer community, that I want to believe.
Though I heartily support the notion, I do not know if Jolie will be calling O’Hara—at least not until a decorous amount of time has passed. But given that the actress and humanitarian is one of the more famous bisexual people out there, the BiWeek connection is deeply intriguing. Normally, BiWeek—an annual awareness-raising event started in 2014 by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and BiNet USA—is an occasion for dispelling myths about bisexuality and encouraging the greater incorporation of bisexual people into the LGBTQ community. But this year, perhaps it’s also an opportunity for Jolie to make amends to her queer sisters and brothers?
Recall that when Jolie and Pitt got married in 2014, it was viewed by many queer folks to be “a slap in the face.” This was because the pair, who had been together since 2004, had made much ado about delaying their nuptials until everyone in the country (meaning same-sex couples) could do the same. It was a meaningful (if not roundly supported) gesture. So when they broke their promise, wedding at their French chateau after DOMA-defeating Windsor came down but well before Obergefell v. Hodges finished the job of marriage equality, celebrity-attuned queers felt betrayed.
To be sure, there must be serious internal reasons motivating this split, things like diverging parenting styles or infidelity, the kinds of mundane factors that drive many couples apart. But the timing is interesting: In a week dedicated to bisexual visibility, a bisexual superstar has chosen to make her changing personal life—and her newly single status—highly visible. Is the move a kind of winking apology? An admission that the marriage, whatever the reason it failed, was born of anti-queer sin in the first place? Who knows! But in this time of turmoil and confusion, it’s comforting to think there’s still the potential for justice in the world.