You may not instantly recognize the name Holland Taylor, but chances are that you’ve seen her in something. The veteran actress has appeared in Two and a Half Men, Legally Blonde and George of the Jungle among many other TV shows and movies. But she’s also a very private person; indeed, it wasn’t until fairly recently that she began openly talking about her sexuality. And in 2020 she made some new revelations.
Taylor has played LGBTQ characters a lot throughout her career. For instance, her character in Two and a Half Men was a bisexual woman, and she’s been in lesbian shows and movies such as The L Word and D.E.B.S. But the first we heard about Taylor’s own sexuality was back in 2015.
In November of that year the then-72-year-old actress spoke to WNYC’s Sex, Death and Money podcast about her romances. She said, “Most of my relationships have been with women and I don’t like talking about them because I don’t like talking about the politics of it all because I’m not political about it.”
Taylor went on, “I’d like to be able to just say that, without having to stop and say, ‘So have you come out?’ No, I haven’t come out because I am out. I live out.” And the actress also confirmed that she was living with a younger woman but wouldn’t say who. Taylor joked, “There’s a very big age difference between us which I’m sure shocks a lot of people, and it startles me. But as they say, ‘If she dies, she dies.’”
Taylor was then asked about whether she would ever get married to her mystery woman. And she responded, “… Given my generation, it would not be something that would automatically occur to me. But she’s mentioned it because just from a spiritual point of view, from a heart point of view… as a deed that has a very rich symbolic gesture to it, it has its attraction.”
But who was Taylor’s unnamed partner? Well, the media decided to do some digging. The star had been seen attending many award ceremonies with fellow actress Sarah Paulson. And the latter had recently liked a fan’s tweet which said that she and Taylor were “the hottest couple.” The Truman Show star had also recently posted a photo of Paulson with the words, “When captions fail…”
The relationship between the women was then confirmed. In December 2015 Entertainment Tonight announced in an exclusive, “Two and a Half Men star Holland Taylor is dating American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson.” The site added, “Well here’s an adorable May-December romance you might not have seen coming!”
Paulson herself had spoken about her sexuality to the website PrideSource just a month beforehand. The actress noted that she’d had relationships with both genders and explained, “I’m not looking to define myself. And I’m sorry if that is something that is seen as a rejection of or an unwillingness to embrace [my sexuality] in a public way, but it’s simply not. It’s simply what’s true for me, and that’s all I can speak to.”
In January 2016 Paulson left a birthday message for her girlfriend on Twitter. She wrote, “Happiest birthday to [Holland Taylor] – my most favorite human… No one is more deeply grateful that you were born than I.” In the comments of the tweet, fans then told Paulson and Taylor how adorable their coupling was.
It was also in January that Paulson revealed how the two of them had met. She explained during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, “It’s a long story. We met a very, very long time ago. I was with someone else.” For reference, Paulson reportedly dated the actress Cherry Jones for five years until 2009.
After that, Paulson said, she and Holland had met again while both were doing PSAs for an organization actress Martha Plimpton was working with. The former said, “We sort of breezed by each other and started following each other on Twitter.” Billy Eichner, who was also on the show, said, “Holland Taylor slid into your DMs?” And Paulson said that yes, she really did.
In March 2016 Paulson then gave an interview to The New York Times about the relationship. She said, “If my life choices had to be predicated based on what was expected of me from a community on either side, that’s going to make me feel really straitjacketed, and I don’t want to feel that. What I can say absolutely is that I am in love, and that person happens to be Holland Taylor.”
Paulson said that Taylor was “probably the most exquisitely beautiful woman I’d ever seen,” but she also mused on their age gap. There were, after all, over three decades between them. She said, “There’s a poignancy to being with someone older. I think there’s a greater appreciation of time and what you have together and what’s important, and it can make the little things seem very small.”
“It puts a kind of sharp light mixed with a sort of diffused light on something,” Paulson went on. I can’t say it any other way than there’s a poignancy to it, and a heightened sense of time and the value of time.” The actress added that ever since her time in high school she had “developed a very easy rapport with people older than myself.”
Elsewhere, Taylor called herself “the luckiest person in the world” to be with Paulson during a January 2017 interview on Sirius XM’s Sandyland. She said, “I can’t talk about my life today and not mention this wonderful love. [The relationship] has to be part of what is the most wonderful thing in my life. The whole embrace of this wonderful relationship, which makes everything else make sense.”
Taylor later admitted she’d been “blindsided by the reaction” to her coming out. She told the magazine InStyle in September 2017, “I’m from an older generation and for me it’s quite surprising how people talk about personal things of any kind in the press. It’s not natural to me.”
But, Taylor went on, “That doesn’t mean it’s not good, it’s just taken some adjusting. And [Paulson], of course, is from a different generation, she’s very much of today. It was hard for me at first to go through that membrane of being a private person. But it’s been good for me to do it in such a lovely way.”
Taylor also discussed her and Paulson’s careers during the InStyle interview. She had been doing a play about the famous Texas governor Ann Richards called Ann. The actress said, “I sent several messages out there with political themes, especially when I was working on Ann. I’m no less political now, but I was so into the mode of reading and understanding progressive history and what progressive politics even means.”
Meanwhile, Taylor has become somewhat of a Twitter activist in recent years. She told the magazine, “I’m very interested in what’s trending – what’s current. Sometimes, when I’ve really had something I’ve wanted to say, I have taken great pleasure in getting it to 140 characters.” But, she added, “I used to write some fiery tweets and got quite royally attacked for it.”
The conversation then turned to Paulson, and Taylor talked about how great an actress she was. The star said, “When she comes home, she’s physically exhausted, her voice is shot … she can’t do anything halfway. [Paulson] does not cushion anything, she goes for it every take, every time.” Then, suddenly, her partner apparently rang in the middle of the interview and Taylor sweetly told her, “I’ve talked a lot about you – wonderful, true things.”
The age difference between the couple continued to draw comment, however. In December 2017 Paulson told The Edit magazine, “I’m with a much older person and people find that totally fascinating and odd, and, to me, it’s the least interesting thing about me. I am a woman of a certain age who chose not to have children, and who has made my career my priority. I am the captain of my own ship, and I’ve never looked to anyone else to validate that, or tell me it’s okay.”
The following January Paulson reiterated the same thing in slightly stronger terms. She told Town & Country magazine, “I do not want to be defined by who I share my bed, my home, my soul with. My choices in life have been unconventional, and that’s my business.”
Paulson went on, “I do want to live responsibly and truthfully without hiding. It’s complicated, because there is a lot of hate in this world, and a lot of good can come from ‘normalizing’ something for people who don’t see it as normal. Our relationship represents a certain amount of hope and risk. Maybe there’s something brave in it. Maybe it encourages others to make brave choices. What else can I say? We love each other.”
No matter what, the Taylor-Paulson relationship seemed to be an incredibly strong one. In May 2018 Paulson told Modern Luxury magazine that she didn’t care if people criticized the relationship. The star said, “If anyone wants to spend any time thinking I’m strange for loving the most spectacular person on the planet, then that’s their problem. I’m doing just fine.”
And in October 2018 Paulson told Elle magazine, “I didn’t choose to fall in love with the person I fell in love with. But I think why it’s interesting to people is that on paper, it’s unconventional. For a person who might find themselves in a situation that they fear will be misperceived or judged, maybe they could see me living my life in a way that is authentic to me – just trying to be as real as possible. If that inspires anybody else, that can’t be a bad thing.”
Meanwhile, Paulson’s career continued to soar, and Taylor couldn’t stop singing the former’s praises. In September 2019 Fox 11 LA asked the latter to describe her relationship with the younger actress. Taylor then answered, “She’s really a person of such variety it’s hard to describe her, and this is one reason why she’s a great actor.”
By 2019 Paulson was a big name in the acting world. She had picked up multiple awards: including a Primetime Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award for her role as Marcia Clark in American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson. Taylor told Fox, “We’re not alike as actors. [Paulson is] a chameleon… She’s just a profoundly gifted performer.”
Taylor gave another insight into the relationship come January 2020. The couple had been together for five years by that point and seemed very happy still. Taylor told Us Weekly magazine that she felt the romance was “kind of a mystery given the age difference,” but she didn’t mean it in a bad way.
The veteran actress told the magazine, “I’m surprised by [Paulson]. I mean, that we love each other and respond to each other this way is not the surprise, but that she would make a commitment like this and that she would share her life with me is a constant surprise every day really. A big age span is a challenge to any relationship.”
Taylor went on, “And [Paulson’s] just very brave. She’s very brave and she is very truthful and she’s going to live her truth. And so, I basically am following her lead and I’m blessed. I’m blessed to have the life I have right now, which no one could’ve predicted in 1,000 years. But she’s obviously at the center of my life.”
In the first half of 2020 Taylor started appearing on the show Hollywood, which was created by Ryan Murphy – a frequent collaborator of Paulson’s. And she gave an interview about it to the Huffington Post in April. The reporter asked if Paulson had given her any tips, and Taylor responded, “She gave me advice I didn’t need. She said, ‘Take that job!’ I said, ‘I’m way ahead of you, lady.’”
Taylor revealed in that same interview that she was unlikely to ever work side-by-side with her girlfriend – even though both of them were highly acclaimed actresses. She said, “I wouldn’t want to be in a show that [Paulson] was in. That wouldn’t be right. That wouldn’t feel comfortable to me.”
In June 2020 Taylor spoke with Closer magazine – partly to promote the ongoing Ann and also to talk about her life. The actress was asked what made her relationship with Paulson “work,” and she responded, “We are very different. The fact that I am older makes me steadier. I don’t worry about some of the things that she may worry about. I might be a steadying influence. She’s very excitable. I think I’m the person she can quiet down with. I’m hopefully that sense of home.”
The reporter also asked about what had driven Taylor to write about Ann Richards. The star answered, “It fell on me like a mission to convey the inspiration this person brought to everyone, to lift people up. [I wanted] to give them hope, to give them confidence that life can improve, that government can be good, that life is positive and funny and wonderful.”
The real Ann Richards wasn’t LGBTQ by all accounts, though political rivals allegedly spread rumors that she was a lesbian in an attempt to discredit her. But she gained a big following among the LGBTQ community, and when in office she supported more rights for gay men and women, as well as other minorities.
Taylor’s performance in Ann was apparently linked to her political activism. Come June 2020 she shared some in-depth tidbits with The Hollywood Reporter publication. She said Ann “was really a creative journey that I had to take. It really did have to do with something that was for the common good.”
The actress went on, “It was almost a political act in a way because I just couldn’t bear that that voice was not in the American air anymore. She was an important [U.S.] patriot, and her spirit should be very alive in our cultural history. If you speak to anyone she has ever met – without fail – they will say that they have never met anyone more inspiring.”
The interviewer then asked how she would be honoring the upcoming Pride Month. And Taylor answered, “I hope I honor it just how I live my life. We shouldn’t have to define ourselves this way. I’ve never quite articulated it.” Indeed, she had said similar things right at the beginning of her coming-out journey.
Taylor went on, “If there were any political challenge to our rights, I would literally throw my efforts 1,000 percent into fighting for how I live my life. I’ve always lived my life openly, but I also don’t talk about it because I wouldn’t talk about it no matter what it was because it’s not my style. But I’ve not hidden my life.”
There’s no doubt that Taylor has lived an extraordinary life – and not just career-wise. In her June 2020 Closer interview she mused, “I spent a lot of my life worrying about events that never happened or, when they did, weren’t at all like I expected.” It’s good to see her so happy now.