I remember when X Factor was the thing to watch on a Saturday night. Strictly was always all right (I remember being pleased when Jill Halfpenny won in 2004) but it was always X Factor which had me glued to the TV screen at the weekend. It was X Factor which intensified my love of Cheryl (she’s pretty much my only celebrity crush) and it was X Factor which introduced Rebecca Ferguson, Alexandra Burke and One Direction to my MP3 Player – no mean feat. And yet, once Cheryl left the show, my interest in it waned. This year, I swore I wouldn’t be drawn into the show – but I have been – by the very talented and very hot lesbian performers.
I first heard Lucy Spraggan when a colleague at work made us all watch her first audition video on YouTube – and I immediately put it on repeat all afternoon. With her rounded Sheffield accent, song-writing ability and super-chilled dress sense, I had a girl-crush on this girl from the first viewing – and I also had a sneaking suspicion that she was probably a little bit gay. A quick Google proved this right – she came out at age 14, and her mum wrote a piece in the Guardian about having a gay daughter.
Perhaps more surprising was the news that the soulful and sexy Jade Ellis is also happily homosexual. Jade, who absolutely smashed her performance in St Lucia (she sang Stand By Me) has talked extensively about her relationship with her girlfriend and how they are bringing up her (adorable) little girl together.
And whilst Charlie / Lotte Rundle from duo MK1 hasn’t officially said anything about her sexuality (other than admitting that her management used to market her to the gay audience) she’s definitely not the typical female X Factor performer. Not only does she give off a ‘don’t-give-a-fuck’ attitude, she’s also got a great musical style and I really enjoyed the MK1 performance this weekend. (Whoops – according to Google, she’s said she’s bisexual in an interview with a magazine!)
So there are at least two and possibly three lesbians in this year’s X Factor finals. This is great – not only because these girls are great eye-candy for my Saturday night telly – but also because these girls are showing that they’re cool, they’re talented and they’re gay. These are the people who are influencing a generation, who don’t feel the need to push their sexuality in anyone else’s face but who aren’t afraid to stand up and talk about who they are. These are the people who aren’t defined by their sexuality – and I’d bet that each of them has far more interesting things to talk about than who they choose to date – and they’re such good role models.
Not only that, but they don’t fit into the lesbian stereotypes either. Whilst Jade has an amazing undercut, her hair is long, she hasn’t shied away from wearing dresses and you’d struggle to call her anything approaching butch. Lucy also has long hair – and she may be more comfortable in jeans and Converse (something Stacey can appreciate, I know) she certainly doesn’t fit into the butch camp either. Charlie from MK1 is slightly different, with the short hair and baseball cap – but her outfit this weekend (straightened hair and shorts) show she’s not afraid to mix up her style.
What I’ve also noticed is that there seems to be very little backlash about the fact that these girls are happily out and part of the biggest singing / popularity competition on TV. Maybe it’s just the people I talk to and/or follow on twitter, but I haven’t seen any negative coverage about their sexuality. This really gives me hope for the future, for the day that no one is even interested in the gender of who someone is dating. Small steps.
I’m still not that fussed by the X Factor, as a concept. I’m intelligent enough to know that it is an TV show, a performance, and the aim is to entertain the audience at home and line the pockets of ITV and Simon Cowell – and yet, this year I’m proud to watch the show. If people – young or old, male, female, homophobic or closeted – watch this show and see that these girls are amazing and talented and they just happen to be gay – and they’re worth watching due to their performances, not because of or in spite of their sexuality – then I think that that’s something to be pleased about.
So, what does everyone else think? Does having lesbians on the X Factor make people realise that just because we date girls doesn’t change how amazing we are, and that you can’t always tell someone’s sexuality just by looking – or is it just another tool in the toolbox of Simon Cowell in the Saturday night ratings battle? And, perhaps more importantly – who’s your favourite?Carley