For someone who wants to stop talking about her sexuality, Jessie J sure had a lot to say about it. In a one thousand word tweet, she cleared the air in response to the controversy she attracted the other day by referring to her bisexuality as a phase that she had since grown out of. Jessie J wasn't the first or last celebrity to speak openly about being bisexual. Shailene Woodley freely spoke about her attraction to people by their personalities rather than their gender and Debbie Harry just spoke up about her own liaisons with women. For Jessie J to say that bisexuality was just a phase of hers is a problematic statement in and of itself, but it's even more so when it's coming from the mouth of a public figure.
Although Jessie J made it clear that she was not trying to be a role model, she is one to many people whether she likes it or not. And when a previously out and proud bisexual says that she grew out of it, re-opening the debate on whether or not homosexuality is a choice, then it's going to step on a lot of toes.
On the one hand, Jessie J's frustration is understandable. "I never lied about my sexuality, I never labelled myself, the media and some of the public did," she writes in her tweet, making it clear that the real source of the misunderstanding was being given a label before she was entirely comfortable with it. When Jessie J first announced in 2011 that she had dated both men and women, she herself never used the word bisexual to describe her sexual identity. It was a year after her debut album had launched her to super stardom and the singer admits that she "felt pressure to tell everyone all my business."
On the other hand, there's a lot of backtracking involved in Jessie J's Twitter rant. During her infamous interview with In Demand, she stated:
I've never denied it. Whoopie doo guys, yes, I've dated girls and I've dated boys - get over it.
And now her story is:
I fell for a person who happened to be a girl. Every other relationship I've had has been with a man.
She's clear on the point that her words and actions only apply to her and not to anyone else, clear on the point that bisexuality is a real thing and that people should be free to love who they love, but she's not so clear on why that has stopped applying to her. Jessie J can downplay her own forays into same-sex relationships as much as she wants, but it's still a part of her and a part of her history that she is trying to cut out as if it never happened. She may not be denying it, but she is retracting it and in a lot of ways that's more damaging, because it makes it seem like she's ashamed as much as she is annoyed.
But ultimately, Jessie J has got to do what's right for her. The reason that we have so many words for the different ways in which sexuality can manifest itself is that sexuality is fluid, personal, and deeply subjective. The way the singer is choosing to define her sexuality may be offensive to some, but her entire issue is the fact that for too long she has been allowing other people to define it for her. She's grown into a person that knows who and what she wants and that, apparently, is only men. Whether or not it's that easy is for us to speculate on but never truly know because we don't really have a right to tell her how to feel.
But for very little girl or boy who looked up to Jessie J for her honesty and confidence with her bisexuality, this comes as a huge blow. Bisexual erasure is still a very real issue in the world and the list of Hollywood's bisexual role models continues to dwindle. Is it unfair to expect Jessie J to commit to bisexuality just to give teens someone to look up to? Yes. Is it unfair to expect her not to renounce her bisexuality using a phrase that is often used to undermine it as a legitimate sexual identity? No.