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Jessie J: Why I Won’t Label My Sexuality

Jessie J: Why I Won’t Label My Sexuality

Jessie j - sexuality - womens health uk

&copy Zoe McConnell

Ever since Jessie J first revealed – with refreshing candour – that she’s slept with both men and women, she’s been branded ‘openly bisexual’ in the press.

In 2014, when this one detail of who she’d been to bed with threatened to overshadow all her other qualities and achievements, she stated that it was just ‘a phase’ – and predictably got a lot of flak for it.

So when journalist Harvey Marcus touched on it in her WH March issue cover interview he probably didn’t know what sort of response to expect.

Refreshingly what she gave was something open, honest and – I think – hugely important in terms of how we use people’s sexuality to define them.

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“I just didn’t want to become a spokesperson for anything or anyone,” she said.

“I’ve never denied that I’ve had sex with women and I’ve had sex with men, but I just felt like it was defining me: ‘The bisexual singer, Jessie J…’ And I was like, ‘This is ridiculous. You don’t see ‘The straight singer, Beyoncé’”.

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I know what she means. Even though I proudly identify as bisexual, I also know that nothing really prepares you for this degree of scrutiny of your sexuality, and the endless intrusive questions that people feel strangely entitled to ask me, just like Jessie.

I was 19 and studying in Glasgow when I realised that my sexual orientation wasn’t as straightforward as I’d thought. It came quickly and out of the blue (one of those “SURPRISE! You thought you knew yourself. Turns out you don’t!” moments that life throws at you from time to time) when I met a beautiful girl called Lola* at a student party.

She was a singer in a band and had known she was gay since her early teens.

My feelings for Lola were pretty simple: she was amazing, I was lucky, we were in love. The only complicated bit was dealing with other people’s reactions.

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Because I’d had a boyfriend and a girlfriend, some people thought I was a promiscuous sexual libertine, up for anything.

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As a socially awkward, unwaveringly monogamous and hopelessly romantic teenager, nothing could have been further from the truth. But most insulting of all were the people who think bisexuals are just lezzing it up for the lads.

Never in my life did I get more unwanted attention from men than when I was with a girlfriend. I remember kissing Lola goodbye at a bus stop and turning to see a group of men cheering and clapping, as if it was some sort of floorshow for their benefit.

But I stuck with the b-word, because I believe that the only way we can validate and normalise something is by making it visible, by talking about it, and by owning it.

When the actress Anna Paquin tweeted: ‘Proud to be a happily married bisexual mother. Marriage is about love not gender” in support of Gay Pride month in Los Angeles last year, I understood right away why she’d been moved to do so.

Because the strange thing about bisexuality is that it becomes oddly invisible once you enter a committed relationship; move in with a man and people assume you’re straight, marry a woman and people assume you’re gay.

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Anna Paquin’s tweet was a powerful way of reminding people that you don’t stop being a bisexual woman just because you marry a man.

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Four years into my marriage to a man, people occasionally ask, “Do you still consider yourself bisexual, then?” Um, of course I do.

My present doesn’t wipe out my past.

A committed relationship with a man doesn’t make me ashamed of my relationships with women.

Ending up with a man doesn’t make my same-sex relationships a phase, an experiment or a mistake.

Paradoxical as it sounds, the reason it’s so important to talk openly about bisexuality is so that one day, we don’t have to talk about it anymore.

We’ll only attain real equality when homosexuality, bisexuality and trans status is just as unremarkable as heterosexuality.

And when celebrities, politicians and other public figures aren’t forced to be unwilling posterboys for gayness or bisexuality even though their sexual orientation is just one facet of their character.

When nobody wants to talk about the gender of the person you slept with last night – not because it’s shameful, but because it’s pedestrian.

Love Jessie J's candour? Check out the interview where she talks changing perceptions and her hardest year yet.

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