I’ve always considered myself to be terribly shy. That probably seems weird given that for most of my adult life I’ve been the singer in bands, but performing in front of people was always something I felt forced to do, not something I wanted to do. That’s because I had terrible stage fright, stage fright that sometimes made me physically sick hours before setting off for a venue.
I had the same stage fright in radio studios even after years of doing shows. A different studio or a different presenter would bring the icy-stomach terror right back, as would the slightest hint of a camera: I’m fairly comfortable in front of a microphone but I’m incredibly camera shy.
Not any more.
In the last couple of weeks I’ve been the subject of a professional photo shoot, performed in front of cameras for two live-streamed concerts, played some solo songs for a radio session and made a complete fool of myself in front of multiple cameras as my band was filmed for a live video.
It’s been brilliant.
I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun.
That’s quite odd, I think. You’d think that as a trans person who really hates their body and how they look the last thing I’d want is to be filmed or photographed. And if I’m honest, I’m not mad keen on seeing the results of the filming or the photography. But I am very much enjoying being filmed and being photographed while I wave my guitar around like I used to wave a badminton racket in my bedroom while pretending I was playing Top of The Pops. It’s as if I’ve spent years pretending to be a recluse like Enya when I was Bono all along.
I think a big part of this is that since coming out, I’ve stopped caring what other people think. That’s partly a survival mechanism – if I worried about what other people might think of me, I’d never leave the flat – but it’s also profoundly liberating. Instead of stage fright I have nervous, puppyish excitement; instead of trying to act cool I’m quite happy to make a complete arse of myself.
And I think that’s a very visible demonstration of where my head’s at right now. I’m more confident than I was, more comfortable in my own skin, less fearful and less apologetic.
In one of the songs we filmed yesterday, “I could never be your girl”, I sing this. And I mean it.
I belong right here, I’m a woman on a mission
I’m not looking for approval
and I don’t need your permission