“Should I have lied and said I am bi?”: Jessie J’s bisexuality was ‘just a phase’

Jessie J recently called her bisexuality ‘a phase’ in an interview with The Mirror.Jessie_J_in_NYC1

Her words aroused bitter disappointment despite my having very little interest in her music or personality. Yet, everyone’s sexuality is fluid. It is valid to rise and fall on the Kinsey scale over the course of your life. Everyone should acknowledge their own feelings.

So why did this inspire anger?

Initially, it was more the phrase than the sentiment. Jessie J’s wording trivialises her previous relationships with women. It seems dismissive and all too reminiscent of the kind of criticisms that bisexual people face from all sides. Her words will give ammunition to people who say that bisexuals claim their identity either for attention, in a rebellious ‘phase’, or as a prequel ‘phase’ before fully coming out.

On further reflection though, there was more to it than semantics. Whether she likes it or not, as a celebrity, Jessie J has taken on the role of spokesperson. She may well be the only bisexual woman some people have heard of. I have written previously about the value of celebrities coming out – it can be as powerful as if it were a friend or family member. So what damage might be done by a celebrity referring to her relationships with women as ‘a phase’? What will people think to see bisexuality used in what appears to be a publicity stunt? What might the consequences be for a bisexual person seeing the casual dismissal of their sexual identity?

So back to Jessie J’s question – should she have lied and said she she is bi?

In short – no. I couldn’t condone wanting anyone to lie about their sexuality. However this wasn’t Jessie J speaking honestly and openly about the evolution of her sexuality. These inflammatory comments were clearly a shameless attempt to interest the media in her and her 3rd album. There are better ways to approach the complex subject of fluid sexuality which is still widely misunderstood by many.

A more frank, thoughtful and above all tactful, discussion of her feelings and experiences might have caused less anger. It might even have gone some way to opening up the discussion around female sexuality.

Maybe this is too much to hope for. It is, of course, unfair to hold Jessie J, of all people, to a higher standard than the rest of us. She never claimed to be a role model or a champion for bisexual women. However, from a woman who still claims to care about her LGBT fans, a bit of tact was be hoped for.

Representation of bisexuality in the media is poor at best. Even nominally LGBT friendly shows like Glee continually get it wrong when it comes to bisexuality. This makes it worse when someone who has publicly come out as bi appears to be using their sexuality as a publicity stunt.

All is not lost, there are other bisexual celebrities out there – Anna Paquin and Evan Rachel Wood spring to mind – but this is still a blow, particularly to the public perception of bisexual women and bisexuality more widely.

 

Smile (pictures or it didn’t happen)

22042010 - 044 Amanda Palmer at Koko's

22042010 – 044 Amanda Palmer at Koko’s (Photo credit: failing_angel)

This is not supposed to be a personal blog, however last night I did something legitimately exciting. Let me tell you about it and try my hand at reviewing.

I went to the Koko Club in Camden to see Amanda Palmer and the Grand Theft Orchestra. Amanda Fucking Palmer in all her incarnations, might seem an odd departure for someone who counts Glee albums on their most listened to lists but my taste is nothing if not eclectic.  I was introduce to Dresden Dolls at a young and impressionable age (about 16) and I have never looked back. Well, briefly, during Evelyn Evelyn because that left me pretty cold, but apart from that, never. I brought Who Killed Amanda Palmer and I even funded the Grand Theft Orchestra kickstarter earlier this year which made over a million dollars and made this beautiful tour possible.

This, however, was my first ever Amanda Palmer show and I’m not sure how she’s going to top this. Delightfully, and with a characteristic sense of solidarity, she introduced everyone of her friends and fellow musicians who opened for her. Though we didn’t see everyone those we did see such as her bass guitarist were great.

None of them however could hold a candle to the amazing Amanda. While we were waiting for her there was at least one moment of panic when we realised she was on stage and we were still in the bar but she was just introducing the next opener. At the time she made a comment about ruining the climax by coming on stage so often but when she and her three man Orchestra came the atmosphere changed and it was like nothing I’ve felt before.

Amanda’s shows are not like other people’s shows. Whether she was singing Smile or Girl Anachronism I was in love. When she began reading the traumatic bedroom memories from the shiny silver box and the audience went quiet I felt like I had been punched in the stomach by the rawness of the words and the emotions that were radiating from the people surrounding me. I’ve never experienced such a roller coaster of emotions at a gig before. From the first notes of the introduction all the way through I was enthralled by her, by her voice, by the music, by the guests, everything.

I was so enthralled that I came over all faint and had to drink a pint of water but that’s another story.

Speaking of guests, as I feel I ought, I was completely charmed by the saxophone player Jen Ewbank and her sparkly gold cat suited contribution to Careless Whisper. I very much enjoyed Scroobius Pip who I was only vaguely aware of before. My guest highlight however is an unbreakable tie between Neil Gaiman and the musical saw quartet performing “Psycho” by Leo Payne and Richard O’Brien, the genius behind Rocky Horror, performing “Time Warp” in drag. I loved both so much I cannot choose between them.

The show was the best kind of cabaret with a touch of theatre including the manic instrument swapping for Missed Me, crowd surfing during Bottom Feeder (I touched Amanda Palmer!) and an encore of Want It Back that had Amanda and the Orchestra in one of Koko’s boxes while we in the audience stood in for the drums.

My phone camera was not up to the task of photographs last night so I have had to rely on only slightly less blurry pictures of a 2010 gig from Flickr to accompany this piece. After all – pictures or it didn’t happen.

I have only one problem with the show, the night, everything. Today, all day, I have felt boring and ordinary having removed myself from the glorious, gorgeous freaks of last night for my currently unemployed and unfabulous day-to-day. I wonder if they feel the same.