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Jade Thirlwall was kickstarted to be a “better LGBTQ+ ally” after the suicide of a young gay Little Mix fan in the Middle East.
Speaking out during Pride Month, the singer revealed how she’s been working to defend the LGBTQ+ community against discrimination, and the band’s gay fan base has helped her to understand the struggles and difficulties many still face.
“It would be wrong of me to benefit from the community as a musician without actually standing up and doing what I can to support,” she explained in a column for the Metro.
The singer revealed that she was initially overwhelmed by the prospect of being an ally in the public eye, but she’s worked hard – and is still learning – about what she can do to fully support the LGBTQ+ community.
Jade Thirlwall said she's working to be a better ally for the LGBTQ+ community
“As someone in the public eye, it’s important to make sure your efforts are not performative or opportunistic. I’m always working on my allyship and am very much aware that I’ve still got a lot of unlearning and learning to do,” the 28-year-old stated.
Despite her efforts, Jade confessed that she still felt like she had to do more to be a better ally, and it was a message from a fan in the Middle East that prompted her to up her efforts.
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Same-sex activity between men is illegal in nine countries in the region, and is punishable by death in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates.
“I received a message from a boy in the Middle East who hadn’t come out because in his country homosexuality is illegal,” Jade began.
Jade was moved after hearing the story of a young fan in the Middle East
(Image: Getty Images for MTV)
“His partner tragically took their own life and he said our music not only helped him get through it, but gave him the courage to start a new life somewhere else where he could be out and proud.
“There are countless other stories like theirs, which kind of kickstarted me into being a better ally,” she explained.
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Jade, who has Egyptian and Yemeni heritage, also touched upon how she felt a connection with the LGBTQ+ community, as she faced discrimination while growing up in a small town in the North East.
“My whole life I struggled with identity – being mixed race for me meant not feeling white enough, or black enough, or Arab enough. I was a ‘tomboy’ and very nerdy,” Jade said.
Jade grew up in the North East
(Image: Copyright unknown)
“I suppose on a personal level that maybe played a part in why I felt such a connection or understanding of why those spaces for the LGBT+ community are so important,” she added.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, Jade said she’s been reading up on LGBTQ+ history, and donating money to charities, as well as raising awareness for a variety of causes – including transgender equality – on social media.
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However, she confessed she’s feeling the pressure not to “slip up” during interviews, and become a victim of cancel culture.
“I s**t myself before most interviews now, on edge that the interviewer might be waiting for me to ‘slip up’ or I might say something that can be misconstrued. Sometimes what can be well understood talking to a journalist or a friend doesn’t always translate as well written down, which has definitely happened to me before,” Jade shared.
Jade urged others to speak up for the LGBTQ+ community
(Image: JMEnternational for BRIT Awards/)
But, that’s not going to stop the singer from using her voice and platform to turn the spotlight onto organisations and causes that matter, and she urged others to begin to speak up in support of the LGBTQ+ community.
“My advice for those who want to use their voice but aren’t sure how is, just do it hun. It’s really not a difficult task to stand up for communities that need you.
“Change can happen quicker with allyship,” she concluded.