Last week, Union J band member and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here contestant George Shelley addressed his sexuality publicly for the first time. In a YouTube video addressed to his fans, he explained that he has enjoyed relationships with girls and boys.
But contrary to popular assumption and headlines declaring his 'bisexuality', this wasn’t his “coming out” or identification with a sexual label. In fact, Shelley was doing the complete opposite.
“I’ve been reading a lot of speculation online as to whether I’m straight, or gay, or bi, and all these labels are a little bit old-fashioned,” Shelley said in a video uploaded to his Youtube account. "This is why I’m not going to label it myself.
“I’ve had girlfriends that I’ve loved… but I’ve also had boyfriends, and I just want you to know that whether I decide to be with a girl next, or be with a guy next that it’s because I love them.”
More and more people are identifying as sexually fluid, something that is reflected in and perhaps bolstered by the number of high-profile people choosing not to label their sexuality.
The LGBT charity Stonewall stresses the importance of not labelling a person if they identify as sexually fluid. “Some people may choose not to label themselves for a number of reasons, and it’s important that this is respected. Media outlets making assumptions about their identity and unnecessarily categorising them is unhelpful, and undermines their wish to remain label-free," a spokesperson told The Independent.
People who made 2015 a landmark year for LGBT rights
Days after Shelley’s address, 16-year-old actress Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis, clarified comments regarding her sexuality, which she said had been “misconstrued”, after she featured in a campaign celebrating 10,000 Americans who don’t identify as “100 per cent straight”.
“A lot of people took it as me coming out, but that’s not what I was trying to do. I was literally doing it just to say that you don’t have to label your sexuality… you don’t have to label yourself because it’s not set in stone. It’s so fluid,” she said.
Stonewall believes the increasing number of high-profile figures discussing their sexuality is a good thing for other young people who identify as sexually fluid.
“Young people are increasingly feeling comfortable with openly identifying as having a fluid sexuality or gender identity and expression, which is often in part down to the increasing number of role models in the media who are also doing so. Role models are incredibly important, and these include people that are LGBT and those that don’t wish to be labelled."
Here are some individuals who have spoken about sexual fluidity:
In the face of vast media intrusion, Stewart refuses to place a label on her sexuality. After a high-profile relationship with fellow Twilight actor Robert Pattinson there was tabloid speculation she was in a relationship with visual effects producer Alicia Cargile. When asked by Nylon whether she had any announcements regarding her sexuality, her reply was forthcoming.
“Google me, I’m not hiding,” she replied. “I think in three or four years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight. It’s like, just do your thing.”
The musician, whose real name is Annie Clark, was asked by Rolling Stone if she identifies as gay or straight to which she responded: “I don’t think about those words.”
“I believe in gender fluidity and sexual fluidity. I don’t really identify as anything… I think you can fall in love with anybody.”
After identifying as queer and saying he is “very much in love with no one in particular”, the Perks of Being a Wallflower actor later told Advocate magazine the term is “generational”, “more open and inclusive and that’s why it applies for me, personally”.
“I think there are a lot of people who fall on this open spectrum of sexuality,” he said, “My friends and I use that word [queer] as an all-encompassing banner and for every human being.”
When telling the Evening Standard her debut album was inspired by the breakdown of her relationship with a woman, Glynne said: “I don’t know what I want now – to be with a guy, with a girl, be with anyone.”
She later told the Daily Star: “I’m never going to put a label on my sexuality and people should never feel uncomfortable about who they love… I pray one day we get to a point when it’s no longer a thing.”
The Avatar actress, who married her husband Marco Perego in 2013, reportedly said that same year, for all she knows she might “end up with a woman raising my children… that’s how androgynous I am”.
After discussing how these comments were interpreted by some as her coming out as bisexual, Saldana reportedly told BET: “There are so much more things that are important besides stereotyping ourselves and limiting ourselves just by putting ourselves in little boxes.
“Up until now I’ve known my life to be with men. I’ve been attracted to the male species, but if one day I wake up and I want to be with a woman, I’m going to do that.”
The Good Wife actor told Advocate magazine last year that despite calling himself “bisexual” and marrying a man twice, his sexuality has never been “black and white”.
“I see a worrying trend among LGBT people, that if you identify yourself in just one way, you close yourself off to other experiences. My sexuality has never been black and white; it’s always been grey. I’m with a man, but I haven’t closed myself off to the fact that I’m still sexually attracted to women.”