On February 3rd, George Shelley from Union J made a statement about his sexuality – and instead of labeling himself a specific sexuality – he said he was more focused on starting 2016 with a clean slate and being himself.
In one of his most moving statements in the video, Shelley brings up the one thing that truly matters when it comes to relationships – love.
“I want you to know that whether I decide to be with a girl next or be with a guy next it’s because I love them.”
On February 7th at National Student Pride his bandmate Jaymi Hensley opened up about how you “can’t come out” in the music industry, and perhaps gave explanation as to why George Shelley – and other music talents – choose not to share their sexual identities with the public.
I’ve seen it happen to other people in the industry and they’ve been told that you can’t come out, it’s not going to do well for your sales.
Jaymi went on to say “I think I’m testament to say that it means bugger all, it doesn’t matter. I have just as much of a female fan base as my other three band members. I just like boys“.
That’s a lesson Jaymi learned on his own – and it’s fortunate for him that he got the chance. Most musicians still get told that their albums won’t sell and their fan base would deteriorate if they came out as anything other than straight. Instead of relying on an artist’s musical capabilities, too many “professionals” still believe that sex sells more than talent.
When Jaymi first came out he says he had to almost educate the handlers at Sony on how to treat gay artists – showing that although times are changing there is still a stigma around being a celebrity and not being straight. Jaymi also said that he felt hindered from getting certain jobs because of his sexuality, falling somewhere between “being in a boy-band and being gay, but not overly camp”.
While we’d like to believe that closeting in the industry is a thing of the past, comments like Jaymi’s and videos like George’s just go to show that it certainly isn’t.