America’s Got Talent judge and former Spice Girl Mel B has made some controversial comments that have gotten a lot of attention this past week, claiming that she is not a lesbian or bisexual, but a straight woman who has “experimented” with lesbian relationships.
After admitting that she has been in relationships with women, Mel B was asked if she was gay, and her response was, “I would not call it that. I was just one of those ladies. Now I’m happily married.”
The dialogue surrounding these comments have been interesting, ranging from blank understanding to blatant questioning of her intelligence such as this article from Pop Dust claiming that Mel B “Doesn’t understand what a lesbian is” and “needs to buy a dictionary.” This article goes on to state that “at best she is bisexual, at worst she is completely and utterly in denial about her sexuality and, quite frankly, insulting to gay people everywhere.”
While it can contribute to stigmas on bisexuality when people claim that lesbianism is a phase or that bisexual women are experimenting, the fact that Mel B refers to herself as straight is not necessarily problematic. It is important to remember that sexual orientation is about more than just practice, and if perhaps the relationships in question were truly experimental and Mel B does not feel she is adequately attracted to women, the act of sex or relationships with women does not make her magically bisexual.
It is possible, of course, that Mel B is contributing to the problematic idea that a bisexual woman is a lesbian only when having sex regularly with women, and straight at all other times, but I think it’s just as insulting to disregard Mel B’s identified sexual orientation. The troublesome dialogue that can surround bisexual women is not reflective of truly straight women who have indulged lesbian curiosities, and disregarding Mel B’s claim that she identifies as straight is no less problematic than accusing bisexual women of being simply in denial and unable to pick a side.
In the face of this criticism, I want to encourage my LGBT readers to support Mel B in coming out as straight, and respect her right to identify sexually as she chooses regardless of her sexual past, as a person’s sexual identity is a very personal thing which we often ask others to respect in us.