Gossip's Beth Ditto on Wealth, Love, and Queer Identity
In a new interview in The Advocate, Gossip front woman Beth Ditto opens up about her femme identity, her poverty-stricken upbringing, and what being queer means to her.
Beth Ditto is an out, fierce, fat femme who has been taking the music and fashion world by storm with her indie rock trio, Gossip, and clothing and makeup lines insisting that big girls have a seat at the table. In a new interview on the cover of this month's Advocate, Ditto talks with SheWired contributor Diane Anderson-Minshall about growing up poor in the rural South and just how she ended up a world-famous music and fashion icon who enjoys "Hasselhoff-like fame" in Europe.
In 2007, NME Magazine not only voted Ditto the coolest person in rock — the first time the magazine had bestowed the honor on a woman — she also posed nude on the cover.
Ditto is frank about her hardscrabble upbringing and her queer identity both in the interview and in her new book, Coal to Diamonds. While Ditto doesn't discuss her breakup with transgender music promoter Freddie Fagula in the memior, she does open up a bit to Anderson-Minshall.
"It's something I've never discussed," Ditto said. "It's still complicated. I think we're both very much better off."
But Ditto bounced back from the breakup, quickly falling for her longtime friend Kristin Ogata. The two are engaged, and plan to marry next year. "We just always kind of knew that we were always in love," Ditto says of her fiancee. "It's blissful, I think. It's really sweet and perfect. I feel like it's so simple that it's a miracle. I feel like Dan and Roseanne."
Previously falling for a trans man and now being engaged to a woman hasn't challenged Ditto's perception of her own sexuality, but rather expanded it. "I learned a lot about myself in a way — not really about my sexuality but in the way I picture gender and the world. I think that dating and meeting Freddie and meeting trans people, more than anything I think that was more pivotal for me because I never understood why I wasn't attracted to girls that dressed like I did. For a long time I thought in order to be gay, I had to have really short hair."
But coming out as femme was a major breakthrough for Ditto. "I was like, OK, now I understand," she said. "I feel like I'm the butchest femme, though, with lots of male energy. I don't think about how I'm myself in a dress, always spread-eagle. But I think after I knew I was a femme, it was like anything goes with who I'm attracted to."
Read the entire interview at The Advocate.