Queer Pop Star Betty Who On Inspirations, Coming Out, and New Music
Betty Who

Betty Who

In honor of Nationwide Coming Out Day, The Advocate spoke with queer pop star Betty Who about popping out, queer musicians, and her new album “Massive!” which comes out on October 14.

The Advocate: Twenty years in the past, the theme of the annual day was “Coming Out Rocks” which celebrated homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender musicians. Have we progressed since 2002?

Betty Who: We’ve come unimaginably far since 2002 so far as illustration and assist for LGBTQIA+ musicians and artists — even enthusiastic about queerness within the 90s once I was rising up, the way it felt a lot extra like a rebel then. It all the time takes a lot bravery to be your self, however particularly twenty years in the past. Not to mention earlier than that! There are such a lot of unimaginable queer and gender nonconforming artists whose bravery cleared the trail for artists like me to have the ability to experiment and push the boundaries of my self and identification.

The Advocate: Do you assume most of the people is extra accepting of LGBTQ+ musicians?

BW: The web has performed such an enormous position in giving so many marginalized communities a much less dismissible voice. There’s power in numbers so as soon as everybody had a telephone of their pocket that connects them to billions of different telephones in different folks’s pockets, unexpectedly we may attain out to one another — really feel much less alone. It’s one of many important causes I’ve felt increasingly more snug being myself and talking about my sexuality as a result of I do know there may be this wonderful group of individuals ready to simply accept me and supply house for me.

The Advocate: We lately spoke with iconic legend Johnny Mathis, and it was the primary time in his profession that spans 65 years that he opened up about his sexuality. He got here out within the Nineteen Eighties however by no means talked about it. Do you assume the times of not popping out and hiding it for musicians is a factor of the previous?

BW: I believe, once more, being your self is so susceptible. I maintain a ton of house for folks at the present time who don’t really feel secure sufficient to share intimate particulars of their private life or identification with thousands and thousands of strangers on the web. It’s overwhelming! And opens you as much as judgment in a extremely scary method. In fact, for these which are afraid, know there’ll all the time be an unimaginable group ready to assist you and meet you in your vulnerability however it could take time to get there. You need to do what’s greatest for you within the time that it’s greatest for you and be light with your self alongside the best way.

The Advocate: If you have been rising up, have been there any LGBTQ+ musicians that you just appeared as much as?

BW: I do consider that a few of the greatest songwriting comes from queer expertise. Freddie Mercury’s specific model of “queer individual making music for essentially the most heterosexual sports activities” is a big inspiration to me. Queer persons are so usually on the forefront of tradition — the tastemakers and creators I’m most enthusiastic about. So when queer tradition — a track like “Bohemian Rhapsody” that’s about dying from AIDS — turns into this unofficial straight-person track for generations to come back, I really feel so impressed and excited. Like we’ve tricked thousands and thousands of individuals who would possibly ordinarily be uncomfortable inside the tradition into screaming about it from the depths of their soul. Subliminally — or utterly transparently! — reworking hearts and minds via artwork. It’s what it’s all about.

Betty Who

Betty Who

The Advocate: How did your followers react once you got here out, and the way do you assume that may have been totally different in 2002?

BW: I’ve by no means actually “come out” if you’ll. I’m all the time joyful to speak about my expertise and sense of self however I by no means actually had this large “Hey everybody, that is the tea, I’m queer now” second. I’ve all the time felt like I’ve straddled the road in each my sexuality and gender. I like women and men. I really feel each masculine and female. Alongside the best way, I’m simply attempting to be myself trigger I don’t assume I can stand up on stage and ask everybody within the viewers to be themselves if I’m not doing it first. I believe it’s additionally a little bit of a hen or the egg query. I don’t know if having an insanely supportive LGBTQIA+ group as followers impressed me to be extra genuine or if I used to be all the time on this path. Whichever one got here first, I’ve by no means been extra grateful for a group in my life than I’m grateful for queer folks. The artwork. The adversity overcome. The best way we will maintain house for one another. It’s one of many best elements of my life.

The Advocate: Are you able to discuss a bit in regards to the that means of your new album? Are there any songs on it that talk to acceptance?

BW: An enormous theme — if not the primary theme! — is self-acceptance. Coming to phrases with who you actually are versus the individual you needed to be or wished you have been. I believed so much about that in COVID and it got here via so much within the music. The title monitor “BIG” is after all about my literal peak (I am 6’2” in any case) nevertheless it’s principally a metaphor for wanting extra, for wanting the most important and scariest and most fun life attainable. The “Onerous Approach” can also be considered one of my fave queer songs on the report. It’s about falling in love with this lady once I was in my early twenties in NYC and never realizing how one can be there for her or be snug with myself in that relationship at the moment.

The Advocate: Have you ever been approached by different musicians, associates, or followers asking you for recommendation about popping out?

BW: I’ve had numerous conversations about discovering your self and self-confidence, particularly with my followers. So many individuals come to satisfy and greet and share their tales of heartache or triumph. If I’ve any recommendation price sharing, it truly is to be type to your self. I’m the primary individual to be so judgemental or exhausting on myself once I don’t have all of it discovered or know precisely the place I’m headed but. It takes a lot time to really feel at house with your self, to belief your self. So lean on these who you’re feeling like they see you, make you’re feeling secure, till you are able to do that for your self.