BiMediaWatch Extra: In or Out?

BCN 124 cover

This originally appeared in BCN issue 124, April 2014

April saw two pop singers trading places between our lists of straight stars and bi icons.

Deborah Harry, who I think of as “her what sung French Kissing in the USA” and people a smidge older than me think of as “her from Blondie” has a new album to promote and used the opportunity to talk about having had relationships with women as well as men.

Deborah told the Daily Mail that her longer relationships have all been with men but there were women in the mix too; ‘I don’t know if I have any specific requirements,’ she said. ‘Just somebody nice, who has a good sense of humour and loves to have sex. What more could you ask for?’

Meanwhile Jessie J, who came out as bisexual in 2011, took to Twitter to declare herself ‘straight now’. She drops the dreaded “phase” word in there, and dismisses things as being part of growing up and figuring herself out, but doesn’t deny anything having been true at the time.

“For me, it was a phase,” she told The Mirror. “But I’m not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody.
Some of her twitter followers found all this a bit much to understand so she spelled it out as simply as she could: ‘I fancy/date/love men and only men.’

It may be Jessie’s earlier professed love of women was a media stunt. I’m not persuaded that’s the case. If we take her story at face value, this is someone finding their sexual orientation changes over time and feeling they need to be honest about that. That seems to be the case for quite a lot of people, and more people in the public eye being able to say “this is true for me now, that doesn’t mean what was true for me then was any less true” feels like a positive step.

Laura Kay in the Guardian declared Jessie’s manner of ‘coming in’ a terrible thing: “Jessie J stating that her bisexuality was just a phase feels like such a loss for young gay or questioning people who look up to her.”

‘Gay or questioning’? The use of the word phase in Jessie’s initial declaration, especially as it was tweeted round the world without the follow-on sentence, got me grouchy too, though when fitted into context rather than the briefness of a tweet it made more sense. But when we’re talking about a (formerly) bi identified person could we keep the focus on bisexuality – and it being a real thing rather than “questioning” – for a whole sentence?