‘We’re still trying to remove shame from femininity’ | Pic: Twitter/MarinaDiamandis
‘I’ve seen discussion online,’ says an incredulous Marina Diamandis. ‘People saying “Do we still need a pride?”‘ Are you joking?’
There’s been a lot of talk of straight stars using LGBTI issues and Pride for marketing purposes. But to my mind, the straight allyship of singer-songwriter Marina – formally known as Marina and the Diamonds – runs deeper that most.
‘It’s easy living in a cosmopolitan city, to assume everyone has freedom, equal rights,’ she says. ‘Especially if you haven’t been discriminated against. I’m not because of my sexuality, but many of my friends are. My fanbase as well.’
‘It was after the Orlando shootings; I cried my eyes out’
Marina’s empathy is hardly surprising given her music. She has a talent for rich, emotive meditations on vulnerability, self-acceptance and not fitting in. (Stream I’m Not a Robot, Fear and Loathing, Happy and Superstar immediately).
‘New York Pride in 2016 was amazing, one of the best,’ remembers the star – who released her fourth album, Love + Fear, this year.
‘It was very emotional,’ she continues. ‘It was after the Orlando shootings. I cried my eyes out. Everyone was feeling the same thing. It made me realize how important it is that we hold this each year.’
This Friday she’s back in the Big Apple for WorldPride’s Love Above All Ball. ‘Pride’s a special event for everyone involved, but with this one, it’s a different gig,’ she explains. ‘The venue – the Rainbow Room at the Rockefeller Center – is historic. It’s black tie. I’ll be very glam.’
To celebrate, we caught up with Marina to discuss the power of masculine and feminine energy and Ariana Grande headlining Manchester Pride…
The Ball’s supporting Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. Have you met her? There are photos online…
They’ve been doctored… I haven’t met her. But I’m a big admirer! It’s one thing to be an ambassador for a charity. But to build it from the ground up with her mum? It’s pretty amazing.
The Foundation supports young people and combats bullying, especially of LGBTIs. You have young fans – is bullying something you think about?
Something I think about, and have been privy to,, is how people treat each other online. What young people have to deal with at school, on Instagram, Facebook… Every generation has its own problems.
Have you ever thought about leaving social media?
I left Twitter ages ago, actually – I don’t run it anymore. I thought ‘Why would anyone with any self respect put themselves through this?’ Sometimes it’s fine, if you’re on it for actual social reasons. But I’m the equivalent of a CEO of my company. That’s what all artists are. There’s not that much to be gained for established artists on that platform.
When it began, it was groundbreaking. Now, it’s built to make people argue. I don’t want to be part of that anymore! I’m still on Instagram, though. That’s my only platform [I run].
Inspired by your song To Be Human, which explores themes of equality, when did you start thinking of LGBTI equality?
I would say relatively late. From 16 to 18 I lived in Greece, which wasn’t that progressive in terms of LGBTQ. Then, because I was straight myself, I didn’t face any of the issues. It wasn’t until I became an artist, interacted with this community and found, for whatever reason, I had this strong LGBTQ fanbase.
What LGBTI issue is closest to your heart in 2019?
One that’s popped up among my friends is the pressure [on gay men] to be quite masculine. It’s a broad topic that anyone can relate to. In the past year we’ve seen a lot of talk in the media about masculinity and how it can be toxic for men, whatever their sexuality.
But I’ve been reading lately about ‘divine masculine energy’ and ‘divine feminine energy’. It basically implies we’re all made up of masculine and feminine energy. But femininity has been repressed for thousands of years. Because of religion and so on, we’re still trying to remove shame from femininity.
That’s linked to gay people. That’s what I’ve heard from friends, anyway. It’s an issue that needs to be talked about. I’ve heard from friends that if you go on dating apps… People are just not interested if you present yourself as feminine.
Gay men can treat each other with a lot of of misogyny…
Which was such news to me!
In a past interview, you discussed artists who use their gay fanbases for strategic or calculated means. How do you feel about that a few years later?
It was in response to a question or a conversation we were having where they basically said ‘Do you think there are artists out there who use their fanbase for commercial reasons?’ You do see that happen. There was a focus on ‘do you really love your [LGBTI] fans?’ Well, yeah I do! I’m not crafting myself to have a gay audience because they’re renowned for being loyal. That sucks.
Some people think Ariana Grande shouldn’t be headlining Manchester Pride; that her slot should go to an LGBTI artist. What’s your response?
I don’t think it’s valid. Then you may as well say that no artist except those who are not straight can perform. I don’t think that’s what it’s about. Even straight male artists [should perform], if they care about the cause. But saying that, if the comment is connected to LGBTI artists not getting offered those slots, that’s something to think about as well.
Marina will perform at the Love Above All Ball at the Rainbow Room in New York City on Friday 28 June 2019, to coincide with WorldPride.
All images: Atlantic Records