Queer Quote: What can be learnt from the media reporting on Demi Lovato’s Pronoun changes

Photo of Demi Lovato from Feature article Washington Post top rightcorner of the tuhmbnail my photo yellow backgrond bottom left corner writing spells ‘Aar’s The Queer Quote’ with pride colours

Last week I was asked by a journalist from the ‘Washington Post’ after tweeting about Demi Lovato gender-fluid actor and musician after seeing breifly the headline which didn’t seem as accurate as it could be implying and making the impression, in the headline that Demi switched from ‘They/Them’ pronouns to using ‘She/Her’ now not exclusively using ‘She/Her’ pronouns but ‘They/Them or She/Her’ reason being as reported from a podcast interview Lovato feels ‘more feminine of late’ but still nonbinary and gender-fluid but speaks to what gender fluidity is. Reading on from the article I tweeted a real critique of wording was found in the Buzzfeed article misleading the reader who didn’t fall for click bait that Lovato had ditched ‘They/Them’ totally, CNN wrote similari. Whilst TMZ and People magazine set thing straight for the reader and accurately reported in their headline ‘Demi Lovato Explains Why She Started Using She/Her Pronouns Again in Addition to They/Them’ reported in People as to Buzzfeed’s ‘Demi Lovato Explained Why She’s Adopted She/Her Pronouns Again’ . The Washington Post’s Pop Culture section published their article on the topic later than BuzzFeed and other listed media trying to curb click bait publication. I found it a welcome delight to have a different approach to such a polarised topic. As pronouns and anything queer gets swept up in this ‘culture wars issue’ and what journalism does has impacts on the conversations we have beyond the media, it starts conversations thats why tackling misinformation and a more considered approach is needed for issues that affect minority groups often voiced out of mainstream media.

It was Janay Kingsberry The Washington Post’s feature editor on gender identity coverage the she was writing on the article that was ‘Demi Lovato’s pronouns can help normalize gender fluidity, advocates say’. Doing things different afterall Kingsberry contacted me after my tweet on the topic stating ‘my tweets got to an important perspective we aren’t seeing in news’ keenly wanting to engage with LGBTQIA+ minority group advocates of the discourse affects reflecting on the ‘nuance and fluidity not focused enough by media outlets’, to my surprise I’ve never done such an interview or a media thing, seeing I use They/Them pronouns and describe myself as Nonbinary on social media I was one of those activists that were published. Conscious of the confusion and the mixed signals coming from other media articles on such a matter. After all as some outlets suggested Lovato never ‘gone back to exclusively using ‘She/Her’ pronouns but using two sets of pronouns like trans and nonbinary people like Eddie Izzard, Elliot Page and now Demi too.

The community reassured that the use of multiple pronouns use is valid and that as I concurred in the conversation hoping that this could normalise uses of multiple pronouns but also normalising seeing gender as fluid thing and not just male or female. Using multiple sets of pronouns may reflect one’s fluid gender some use he/she/they, not fussed about how their pronouns are use. Some have found experiences of using they/them to they/she or they/he many cis gendered people forget the they. When it came to reporting on my journey Kingsberry reported as I said ‘It feels like my gender journey is just begining’ with only including They/Them pronouns in twitter and instagram bios for what I think is a year.

‘I’ve become a lot more understanding of gender as a social construct in only the past few years’ gender as a social construct not even anything before summer 2017 when finished comprehensive or as internationally referred to as high school never hearing gender as a social construct before then. I’m unsure if it is taught in schools and discussed in schools. I don’t know if children are able to come out or even know their true gender I worry, not!

In a world with poor education on gender and sexuality the debate on trans rights, nonbinary existence, to LGBTQIA+ umbrella issues and causes that can go beyond pronouns and terminology. But what the words mean are important in change, control, autonomy and power if we dont get the words write how will we learn. It wont happen when news outlets rush out headlines or trying to spark a cultural debate. A lot of the discussion of pronouns is influenced by what we read online, in a paper on television or radio. It becomes a fad buzz culture and trivialising and toying with our rights challenging who we are, our gender identities. We need journalism to think about the the green cross code of ‘stop, look, listen and think’ stop from speed writing and rushing a publication which is clipped up snapshots of an interview or a social media post, look at what actually was said and use literacy skills to analyse and process what you read about it, listen to the communittees and people you are representing, writing and engaging with your article, think about what you are publishing and why. Don’t be afraid to challenge for better journalism that is more considered not driving clicks and allows people not commentator to speak.

In a world where even in nations like America or Britain it can feel unsafe to share our personal stories in the public realm and for a newspaper report that is an international news outlet. It can be daunting but the less we are challenged on our own identities and encourage to speak. I do hope as I did we can have a safer space to express ourselves in all spaces of public conversation

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This is a first editiopn of the new feature column queer quote where I will explore asexuality, non-binary and gender-fludity navigating the discourse and encouraging the persuit of truth and listening in a polarised age

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Wills Word - A Williams

Wills Word - A Williams

This is a blog beyond the twittersphere where I’ll be talking about politics, power, ideas for change in how we deal with current crises.