Jane Czyzselska: Jessie J gets the Rock Hudson treatment

Why being gay is 'bad for business', even now

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The Independent Online

Poor Jessie J. The ridiculously successful "Do It Like a Dude" singer speaks openly as a proud bisexual, sings a song about being true to yourself, then someone comes along and ruins it all by claiming she's a fake.

According to a new, unauthorised biography, Who's Laughing Now? The Story of Jessie J, not only is The Voice star allegedly a lesbian, she's also had the thumbscrews put on her by her record company, Universal, who apparently forced her to hide her Sapphic ways in favour of a bisexual image or risk her contract.

Judging by what the book's author, Chloe Govan, has written, Jessie had made no secret of her sexuality since realising she was gay in her teens, and was incensed by the demand, which was framed as a way of protecting her interests from "rampant" homophobia: "She was advised not to come out, though. Certain people thought being bi was trendy, exotic and a fashion statement. It would increase her allure."

There's so much wrong with this, it's hard to know where to start with the ideological sledgehammer. But let's kick off with the evidently vexing notion of bisexual and lesbian sexual identities. That "certain people" view a bi identity as less commercially suicidal than a lesbian one is predicated on a belief that anything outside of heterosexuality is aberrant, and therefore a threat to patriarchal social organisation.

That may sound old school but then so are "certain people's" views on the matter, it seems. Why are there fewer out A-list lesbian celebrities than there are out gay celebs? Take a wild guess? Could it be something to do with sexism and the fact that young women are still required to look pretty, and to present as if they are available to men?

The truth is that despite the recent move towards greater tolerance of lesbians, bisexuality is as misunderstood and misrepresented as ever. In one camp we have the folk who think bisexuals are fickle floosies, and in the other there are those who see bisexuality as a bridge to "normal" living because there's a 50/50 chance, theoretically, that the (usually conventionally attractive and young) woman in question may end up being schtupped by a chap.

Of course neither sexuality is better or worse than the other – both exist outside of "the norm", but in recent years, ever since, say, Katy Perry kissed a girl and liked it (and went on to become a global phenomenon as a result) this sexual identity has been hijacked by some, to the detriment of many bisexuals whose sexuality is not taken seriously.

But the allegations about Jessie's sexuality are not news to us at Diva. We've been aware of rumours that she's gay for some time now, just as we are about others. It's certainly not uncommon for us to receive emails from music PRs that read "thanks, but Xxxxx has no press time at present" from the closeted lesbian popstrels' minders we approach (and there are many). Indeed, save for Gossip's wonderful Beth Ditto (on our cover next month) it's nigh on impossible to get A-list lesbian pop stars to agree to grace our cover. It's strange to think that so little has changed since the days of someone like Rock Hudson who had to lead (almost) the same kind of double life over 50 years ago.

When we do strike gold and convince PRs to let us feature their closeted stars, often it's on the condition that we're not to touch on the thorny issue of sexuality, so a question about what it's like to be gay in the heterocentric music biz, or a mention of a same-sex partner or a love song written for a woman is out of bounds.

It's not as though we want to harp on about our cover stars' sex lives anyway – we just want to live in a world where it's not considered "bad for business" to be openly gay.

Jane Czyzselska is the editor of 'Diva'