Words: Alastair James; pictures: Instagram/@jadethirlwall
Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall says there’s a "small-minded" mentality in the north contributing to homophobia and toxic masculinity.
The 28-year-old girl band member who comes from South Shields, rose to fame on ITV’s The X Factor, where she joined Little Mix.
She also says that growing up in the north was "hard" due to the social attitudes and the impact that had on her friends.
"It was very bizarre"
Joining Jessie Ware and her mum on the Table Manners podcast Jade discusses her relationship with the LGBTQ community, of which she is a staunch ally.
"I feel like it’s always been a part of my life", she tells the Table Manners hosts. "But it’s not until the past few years I’ve understood what it means to be an ally and how to do that properly."
The relationship, Jade explains, began with drag culture, which she experienced on family holidays in Benidorm. But she says "it was very bizarre" coming home and seeing straight men who enjoyed drag abroad not celebrate it at home.
Of the "old-fashioned" attitudes she grew up around in a small working-class town Jade says a lot of it is passed down through generations.
"If your granddad is being brought up to be homophobic then, of course, their son is going to then listen to that, and that toxic masculinity just seeps through each generation."
View this post on Instagram
After moving to London Jade says she was immersed in gay culture and learned to be an "active ally". Being in Little Mix and interacting with their gay fans also helped her develop her allyship.
She also reveals she met with Stonewall who taught her about LGBTQ history and how to become a better ally.
Asked if she’d perform in Russia, Jade says she’d initially say "no", recalling performing in Dubai where she decided to go and make a statement as well as donate her fee to a charity.
"It’s case by case," she continues. "I’ve got no intention of going to somewhere like Russia anytime soon because I obviously don’t believe in what’s going on there.
"But at the same time, those places more than anyone else need people to turn up and be an ally and fly that flag for them so they don’t feel so alone."
The Attitude December issue is out now.