Oh, Jessie J, what have you done?
The ‘B’ in ‘LGBT’ shines a little less brightly this month, after UK singing star Jessie J announced she’s no longer bisexual. The former talent-show judge has decided she’s straight and wants to get married. Well how dare she? I trust student unions across the land will now ban her songs (without consulting their members, of course) and save all those vulnerable young souls from her unspeakable bigotry.
Ms J claims that ‘For me it was just a phase’. Well, I have news for you Jessie: you can’t simply ‘choose’. These things are fixed. You are a role model and that’s that. As the Guardian’s Laura Kay said: ‘Pop stars and celebrities can protest against their status as role models as much as they like, but it’s an unfortunately unavoidable part of being famous.’
Has Ms J forgotten her responsibilities to her vulnerable young fans? Is she not aware of the potential damage she’s causing by being straight? The Guardian gets it spot on again: ‘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.’ So deal with it, Jessie – you’re a beacon of hope for bisexual and potentially bisexual teens.
What has pop music come to these days when impressionable and incapable young fans can’t look to their pop-star heroes to tell them what to think or which sexuality to choose? Are they supposed to decide for themselves, confide in their friends and relatives? Perish the thought.
The pop stars and musicians of the past understood they had a crucial role to play in offering guidance and setting a fine example to their young fans. As a dancehall reggae fan and, as it happens, ‘sexually confused’ teen back in the early 1980s, I was greatly reassured by the positive words and esteem-building lyrics (eg, ‘Burn in hell, batty boy!’) of the musicians that I ‘looked up to’. If, back then, the stars that I and many other ‘confused’ teens doted on hadn’t set such a positive example to us then, how would any of us possibly have survived?
Back in 1976, that other famous bisexual pop star, David Bowie, clearly understood the importance of offering moral guidance to his impressionable young fans. ‘When I was 14, sex suddenly became all-important to me. It didn’t really matter who or what it was with, as long as it was a sexual experience. So it was some very pretty boy in class in some school or other that I took home and neatly fucked on my bed upstairs. And that was it. My first thought was, “Well, if I ever get sent to prison, I’ll know how to keep happy”.’ And unlike the insensitive Jessie ‘just a phase’ J, Bowie understood the sensibilities of his vulnerable young fans: ‘Oh, Lord’, he said, ‘I got over being a queen quite a long time ago’.
Pop stars today need to realise, if they don’t already, that they have a duty to help and guide our impressionable youngsters. They are just another care service after all. Or maybe, in spite of the protestations of disappointed Guardian scribes, Jessie and Co. are really just entertainers – and young people are perfectly capable of working these things out for themselves.
Niall Crowley is a writer based in London.
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