Fans of Lady Sovereign have speculated on her sexuality since she first debuted her single "Random." She was reportedly spotted at lesbian bars while on tour in the U.S. and also loved to use Sapphic hand gestures, jokes and comments while on stage. Then there were the rumors about who she was dating or had hooked up with, everyone from club promoters to Katy Perry. (I’m hoping that last one isn’t true.)
Sov’s career started indie in 2005, but she signed with Def Jam for her first LP, Public Warning, and "the biggest midget in the game" became known for several things other than her perceived sexuality. First, she was a white girl in hip-hop. Second, she was part of the movement of grime, a form of hip-hop music that was blossoming in the UK. There was also her side ponytail, her love of jumpsuits, her tiny stature, and the fact that Jay Z thought she’d be a great addition to his label — at least for a while.
Lady Sovereign began having breakdowns on stage, canceling tour dates (she was supposed to open for Gwen Stefani), getting into public arguments with a guy who was dressed as a jelly donut, and ultimately getting dropped from Def Jam and taking some time off. While she was out of the game, she was only in the tabloids when she was spotted out drinking and partying in Great Britain, including one unfortunate instance in which she was arrested for assaulting a bouncer.
In 2008, Sov returned with a more mature look, a new album, Jigsaw, that she released independently, and a surprise appearance on Celebrity Big Brother in the UK. Fans showed their support and tuned in to see what would happen when the MC entered a house full of singers, actors and other public figures, including model Nicola Tappenden, who eventually had a conversation with Sov about relationships on camera. This became her official "coming out" moment, as she discussed her romantic relationships with women and not having dated a guy in a very long time.
This month, the MC is on the cover of Diva magazine, where she gave her first official interview on being gay and how she came out.
Here’s an excerpt:
Sov – born Louise Harman – first realised she was gay in her mid-teens. Although she’d had her fair share of boyfriends by the time she was 16, her older sister Chloe started asking her questions when Sov began to bring girls back to the family home in north London. "She used to be horrible to me but everyone’s fine about it now." Coming out to her friends first, she admits she usually ended up fancying them. "It was really bad. So in order to have a chance of even like getting there, you have to say something, and I always used to convert a lot straight girls – I still do."
Until now Sov has kept quiet about her sexuality, out of fear rather than a desire for privacy. "Magazines would always ask about it but [questions about my sexuality] would get stopped by my publicists. It was my choice, too, because I was a bit worried about it but now I don’t really give a s–t. You can’t hide away forever. It’s just stupid and now I’ve come out I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. But it was a bit scary back then because some people do have horrible opinions."
I can vouch for Sov on this, as I’ve had interviews set up with her multiple times, with publicists asking that I not mention her sexuality whatsoever. But with Sov being quite unpredictable or her publicists deciding to nix the interview altogether, it never came to fruition. Finally, it seems, she is ready to talk openly about her sexuality,
however she identifies.
Just like Katie Melua‘s comments on her sexuality last week, it seems that Lady Sovereign was not interested in having her private life become more important than her music. And it’s arguably more difficult in the hip-hop community, especially for someone like Sov who, as a white female, already had some strikes against her, coming into the otherwise largely black, male musical community.
But it seems that no matter what genre they are in, or how they identify, the most important thing to an artist eventually becomes being true to themselves, and this appears to be the case with Lady Sovereign. I hope this makes her as happy as it most likely makes fans that have known all along and always been totally cool with it. In fact, it may have made them like her even more.
You can get the new issue of Diva (or find out where to snag a copy near you) at their website.