Why Lauren Jauregui coming out as bisexual is important
Carrie Lyell on the Fifth Harmony singer’s declaration that she's a "proud bisexual Cuban-American woman".
I was 11-years-old when the Spice Girls released Wannabe.
Up until that point, I'd been a staunch Take That fan, but the posters of Mark and Robbie were soon replaced by the faces of Posh, Scary, Sporty, Baby and Ginger.
Not that I knew it then, studying their lyrics religiously in the privacy of my bedroom, but those women had a profound effect on me. You might well laugh. After all, girl bands like the Spice Girls, or Little Mix, or Fifth Harmony - and their fans - are often sneered at, but Girl Power was probably my first real exposure to feminism, and many lasting friendships were forged over practicing their dance routines in the school playground. I know it's the same for many young girls today.
It was two years after Wannabe came out that I first started having feelings for girls. I looked around and, not seeing anyone like me in the playground, or on those posters on my wall, pushed the thoughts deep down inside, and pursued relationships with boys for another couple of years. That was a horrible time, filled with shame and self-loathing.
Thankfully, I soon met others who felt the same way I did, and slowly learnt that there was nothing wrong with me or with loving girls. But I sometimes wonder how different my teenage years might have been there had been someone I could look up to. Someone like Lauren Jauregui.
The 20-year-old Fifth Harmony singer penned a scathing open letter to Trump supporters this weekend in which she acknowledged her sexuality for the first time, and my heart soared. For a younger me, yes, and for all the young women who will see the outpouring of love received by Jauregui and feel less scared about acknowledging their own sexuality.
I know there will be people reading this, rolling their eyes and thinking "Who cares?" After all, there are more LGBT people in the public eye than ever before, and sexual orientation is no big deal, right?
But it strikes me that Lauren's admission that she's a proud bisexual Cuban-American woman is a big deal. Because biphobia. Because racism. Because misogyny. The list goes on. But also, how many other girl bands can you name who have had a member come out as lesbian or bisexual at the height of their fame? I'll wait.
So who cares? I'll tell you who cares. An 11-year-old Fifth Harmony fan who in a couple of years might realise that like Lauren, they too are bisexual. A bi woman of colour who doesn't see herself represented anywhere, ever. She cares too. And this 31-year-old, who wishes more than anything that she'd had someone as bold and badass as Lauren to look up to as a teenager because maybe, just maybe, she would have felt just a little bit less alone.
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