Pregnant, recording and promoting a new album during a pandemic and acting against type in a major TV show, Paloma faith has never been busier - but she's always taken the time to stand firmly beside the LGBTQ community, which is why she's the perfect recipient of the Attitude Honorary Gay Award at the 2020 Virgin Atlantic Attitude Awards, powered by Jaguar.
"I’m lying on the floor, pregnant, in a room full of dildos, next to a gimp in full latex!” is where Paloma Faith is at in her life right now. While most of us spent the past few months in a COVID-induced stupor, locked down, gaining weight and aggressively sanitising everything in sight, Ms Faith used the time to record a bloody epic new album, produce life, and is currently filming the second season of US superhero crime drama, Pennyworth. Hence the latex and dildos.
“I’m wondering if the baby can see what effect this gimp being bludgeoned to death with a dildo is having!” cackles Paloma, whose warm, bright and un-media trainable persona is a world away from most stars who've been firmly in the spotlight for more than a decade.
Paloma Faith for the Attitude Awards issue (Photography: Zoe McConnell)
Having found fame later than the usual short-lived teen sensations (she had her first hit at 28), she is thankful that she did some living first. “It’s helped with my resilience. It’s one of the reasons why I’m in an unusual group of people who are still going five albums in", she reflects in the Attitude Awards issue, out to download and to order globally from 1 December.
"I feel like I was able to develop my personality before going into celebrity culture, which is such an unhealthy world for a person who’s not fully developed.”
Paloma's grounded empathy is nowhere more obvious than in her love and support of the LGBTQ community.
An honorary gay amongst the drag queens and queer performers she cut her musical teeth with long before Attitude bestowed the trophy on her, Paloma says of the award: “I’m absolutely thrilled... [The LGBTQ community] just feels like my community. From school age, I’ve had friends who are gay men or girls who aren’t particularly bothered about labelling their sexuality; that’s how I’ve grown up. It’s something that’s part of who I am.
"When I hear homophobia, I take it personally. It feels like I’m defending myself.”
Paloma takes her role as a voice for minority groups, her support for the queer community and generally standing up for what’s right extremely seriously.
Paloma wears jacket by Ooto Vintage, shirt by Rellik (Photography: Zoe McConnell)
“I struggle with people being discriminated against. I think everyone’s entitled to be exactly who they are without the age-old traditionalist values that have been put on us. If your soul is good and beautiful, that’s enough. I feel the same about transphobia, feminism, Black Lives Matter. People are constantly in denial about minority groups that are treated wrongly, saying ‘It’s all fine, we’ve sorted that out now.’ But we’re nowhere near that.”
Her stance has meant she’s taken a fair bit of stick, particularly from the right-wing media, regarding her views on gender identity when it comes to her child. “The gender roles are so regimented and ridiculous; I’ve raised my child to be open and used to acceptance,” she explains.
“Everyone came down hard on me for bringing my child up gender neutral. People called me a child abuser and [said] that my child would be damaged. The motivation behind it was I wanted to keep my child out of the public eye for her own sanity. But there was so much homophobia and transphobia, I started to say, ‘Yes, I am raising her gender neutral, you bloody arseholes!’”
For all her doubts, Paloma is laser-focused on raising her kids as open, accepting people, which stems from her working class, east London upbringing. “My mum was a working single parent, but was also so politically aware. I was brought up pro-LGBT rights, anti-discrimination, we went on anti-racist marches as a kid — [she was] a total Hackney mum.
"My dad’s Spanish, my step-dad is Chinese,” she adds. “The only difference between me and my kid’s upbringing is money, but I want to uphold those values. I gave birth to her on the NHS, and I’ll put her through state school. She needs to navigate society.”
(Photography: Markus Bidaux)
While a vocal cheerleader of the LGBTQ community, like any good sister of the gays, Paloma also knows when to call us out on our bulls**t when we need it.
“I find it quite weird when people use terms like ‘straight-acting’," she sighs. "What are you talking about? You’re a person! You can be whoever you want!”