Discovering your sexual identity takes more time for some of us than it does others. Some of us feel we were born with certain certainties, while others take time to explore their options before settling on what feels best. There is no one right way to go about this whole experience called growing up – nor is there any right answer when it comes to defining your own sexuality (or the necessity of doing so to begin with) – but that doesn’t mean we should play fast and loose in the game of love.
This week, pop singer Jessie J revealed that, while she previously described herself as openly bisexual and had enjoyed long-term relationships with women, she is now straight and looking for a husband. This “announcement” of sorts wasn’t necessarily a surprise; anyone following Jessie has surely noticed increasing mentions of boys and how much she’s crushing on them in her social media posts. Fair enough. Jessie also posted her fair share of (what seemed like) cryptic references to a past (bisexual) self she not only no longer identified with, but actively seemed to sort of despise. However, it wasn’t until Monday night when a fan asked her to be blunt about her preference that she posted the following response:
The “I fancy/date/love men and only men” comment was deleted soon after. The next time she took to Twitter, it was to post a lengthy (and, frankly, unnecessary) explanation about how bisexuality was indeed a “phase” for her and one she’d never go near ever again. While she peppered this diatribe with justifications and small tokens of support for the LGBT community, to my ears at least, it unfortunately came off as insincere lip service.
Before I get too critical here, let me say that I completely understand that people and their feelings change over time – this is a natural part of growing up and discovering who we are. However, my problem with Jessie J – and this is coming from someone who has been following her career since late 2010 – is not her sexuality, but her methods of expressing, and then quickly flip-flopping with it.
Keep in mind that Jessie J spoke openly about her bisexuality not just once as an off-handed comment picked up by the press. She actually discussed it in multiple times in multiple magazine interviews, on TV chat shows and during her live shows before then singing tracks inspired by a former girlfriend. Identifying so strongly with the LGBT community is in large part what made Jessie J’s career not only possible, but was something she capitalized on as part of her own unique identity. We embraced her as one of our own and yes, felt rather pleased that an openly LGBT artist was in the spotlight. Jessie was well aware of the advantages her outspokenness on sexuality had for her career, but suddenly, when it wasn’t trendy anymore, she ditched the very people who made her.
Whether Jessie J truly is attracted only to men now is no one’s business but her own. She’s completely right in saying that her sexual preferences are her own and that indeed they can change. What’s problematic is not her change of heart, but instead her insistence on setting what she believes to be the facts “straight,” for lack of a better expression. While she insists that she is 100% comfortable in her own skin and her desires, the fact that she needs to repeatedly reference on Twitter how much she loves men, and in the process actively try to convince the world of her heterosexuality, says completely the opposite. If you’re secure in yourself, you don’t need to talk about it – you’re living it.
Instead, Jessie’s love of sharing her new-found sexuality – while simultaneously claiming that it’s a personal topic that’s not for public consumption – feels like a slap in the face. Who she or anyone else invites into her bed is neither here nor there, of course; what’s so hurtful is that those who embraced Jessie – a woman who seemingly sought acceptance from the community – have basically been reduced to a “phase” (which yes, is exactly how she’s described her experiences with women to be).
Language can, of course, be tricky and far be it for me to dictate anyone else’s narrative. However, it’s careless to project your own discomfort with your past onto a group of people who are already so marginalized, and against whom that very principle of “just a phase” is so often used. LGBTs are already cast off by much of mainstream society, and to have a public figure who was once such a vocal pillar of support and inclusion do the same is not something to feel great about.
Ultimately, Jessie J deserves love in whatever form it takes – man or woman. It’s just a shame she felt the need to use and abuse the LGBT community to get there.