KT Tunstall, Self-Described Heterosexual, Has Feelings About Gender And Kissing Girls

KT Tunstall is, it turns out, definitively straight. She is thankful for her lesbian following, but she’s not a lesbian. She kissed and possibly did other things with girls when she was young, and it was not “just a phase,” but also, at the same time, she is heterosexual. She does identify as genderfluid, and also Donald Trump apparently used one of her songs?

All this clarity comes to us by way of an interview in PrideSource, throughout which hope seems to almost spring eternal that Tunstall might be one of us.

From day one when she put a picture of herself in rainbow suspenders on her album cover, “all the gay community thought I was gay — and they still think I’m gay! They’re just waiting for me to figure it out,” she says.

519xbqltqgl

And, it seems, it’s time they quit holding their breath. Although KT speaks fondly of engaging in sexual dalliances with gals, she’s not looking for a girlfriend in the future.

“I think it would be disrespectful to call it a phase. It was part of life. It was learning about love and learning about lust and desire and sexuality and becoming an adult and experiencing people. It was a really important part of my formative years.”

She also spends a lot of time praising young women like Kristen Stewart and Cara DeLevingne for being label-free — who cares about a label! That’s the point! Meanwhile, KT decidedly uses the label of hetero, but it definitely wouldn’t be a big deal if she weren’t.

Other revelations from the article include that KT is a top-button-buttoning kinda gal, she describes herself as genderfluid, and she feels like she channels masculinity when she performs. She’s leaning into her dyke appeal, and she knows it. From the interview:

I don’t want to classify the last album, “Invisible Empire,” as having a “lesbian folk” sound but…

(Laughs) Listen, I was playing folk music and I was buttoning up the top button of my shirt – that’s all I need to say.

This raises some questions: Is KT queerbaiting us? Does KT know about bisexuality? Does she need someone to tell her? We may never know! It’s important to trust people to own their own narratives, even if their heterosexuality seems really super gay. So hopefully she’s happy, wherever she is.

Audrey is a writer, a Texan and a sometimes-heretical Presbyterian. They write about bisexuality, gender, religion, politics, music and a whole lot of feelings at Autostraddle and wherever fine words are sold. They have a dog named after Alison Bechdel. Follow Audrey on Twitter @audreywhitetx.

Audrey has written 138 articles for us.

28 Comments

  1. Well, raise your hand if you kissed and fooled around with boys before you realized you were gay. Why can’t straight people do the same thing?
    I did always think she was gay though.
    The article does come off as queerbaiting though.

    • Sure, that could be a thing. Except you can’t really compare growing up as gay where heterosexuality is the norm to growing up as straight in that same environment. A lot of us kissed and fooled around with boys because we felt like we had to in order to come across as normal, because we were in denial and horrified about the desires we kept hidden even from ourselves, because our family members looked at us funny and encouraged us to be more like other girls and that’s what the other girls did, so we tried our best to conform.

      But straight kids? There’s no shortage of people openly modeling heterosexual behavior to them. They’re not pressured and expected to be gay or bi. They don’t need to hide who they really are by kissing other girls. So when they do, against explicit instructions of the world they live in, it does make you wonder why exactly. I mean, there’s a lot of opposition you need to overcome to articulate your non-heterosexual desire. The drive to do so must come from somewhere.

      That being said, I have no problem with her identifying however she damn pleases.

      • But in that same sense, a person who kissed girls in the past, but personally feels they won’t in the future(and especially a celebrity) would feel they *have* to make that clear, she might not feel ok ID’ing as bisexual as a way of acknowledging past relations as real and valid like our distinguished leader Riese does.

        She can queer bait us with her music/fashion if she wants, I kinda dig that. But this feels like an honest attempt to not queer bait queers for real, in a turned-down-after-the-show kinda way, which I respect the hell out of

      • That is an oversimplification though. Yes, that is one predominant narrative that is true for many LGBQA people. But not everyone is affected by hetero culture in that way and lives can take different paths. It sounds to me like KT Tunstall was a lucky person who had the space and freedom to explore her sexuality for herself and decided she was straight. Kinda reminds me of this article: http://mykidisgay.com/defining-questioning/ . Maybe KT found herself crushing on women but when she got to know them better realized there was no sexual attraction. Or the other way around, in that she realized she sexually but not romantically attracted to women. Or maybe she wasn’t seeing herself reflected in the oh so many models of heterosexuality she saw because that can still be pretty damn patriarchal and gender conformist and allosexual. We don’t know.

  2. UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.
    It’s like two days ago when I read a girl as SUPER QUEER (SHE HAS A TRIANGLE NECKLACE FFS) and then she pretends to act offended like “OH NO I’M 100% STRAIGHT”.

    PLEASE STRAIGHT GIRLS STOP WITH THE TRIANGLES. You have ALL THE OTHER SHAPES available to you, CAN WE PLEASE KEEP THE TRIANGLE?

      • “One of the oldest symbols associated with the LGBT community is the triangle, which originated as one of the symbols used in Hitler’s Nazi concentration camps as a way to label prisoners: male homosexual prisoners were made to wear a pink triangle, while women imprisoned for “arbeitsscheu” (“antisocial behavior”, including feminism, lesbianism and prostitution) were made to wear black triangles. Though there isn’t definitive evidence to prove that the black triangles were worn by lesbians in the same way that pink triangles were worn by gay male prisoners, over time the black triangle has evolved into one of the more prominent symbols of lesbianism, contemporaneously symbolizing defiance against repression and discrimination.”

        from: http://www.autostraddle.com/i-saw-the-sign-lgbt-symbols-then-and-now-140061/

        • also yes I do realise the dramatic irony of my begging straight people to let us have the triangle when it was forced horribly onto people by Nazis, but flannel and alternative lifestyle haircut have already been co-opted by the straights !!! And so obviously have rainbow suspenders now :(.

    • I seriously did not know about the triangle necklace thing until just now. This is news to me. But then again, I would have been screwed in the camps anyway. I’ma just put my six-pointed star necklace back on now…no surprises with this one, right? Still means what I think it means? 😉

      • Ah! Symbols. I wore running shoes with rainbow shoe laces at work, and a female vendor who was a cis lesbian asked me if I was ” flying my colors”. I said, why, yes I am. She thought I was a gay guy. But I am a translesbian. I let it go un corrected.
        Then I had a little girl come up and tell me my shoe laces were pretty. I said thank you and grinned.

    • Oh my god THIS. And now apparently we need to add rainbows to the list.

      I had the same thing re: offended straight girl. She was a trained carpenter, had an alternative lifestyle haircut, worked as a car mechanic, followed women’s soccer religiously, was a huge fan of Ellen and Pink. I MEAN

      • Femme lesbians get mistaken for straight girls. Tomboy/butch straight women get read as lesbians. A lot of trans men, too, are misgendered as lesbian or at one point on their journey identified as lesbians themselves. A trans girl’s parents might first think she’s a gay boy. Straight men are discouraged from acting too feminine lest someone think they are gay.

        Society wants it all to package up and correspond nicely. People are’t that simple. The way sexuality, gender identity, and gender expression coexist isn’t that predictable. I love it. People are people.

  3. The article looks like queerbaiting but I feel like “even if their heterosexuality seems really super gay” is kinda disrespectful? I wouldn’t be okay with someone calling my homosexuality “super hetero”, so…

    • Straight identities aren’t oppressed. Saying a straight person seems really gay — especially one who talks proudly about how gay she seems — is not comparable to saying, for example, that a femme queer woman seems really straight (which happens, and is effed up). As a bi person I’m also really super gay, in the broader adjective sense of the word.

      • Of course I agree, thank you for explaining your point of view, though for me the whole last paragraph with “does she know about bisexuality” seems more like you take her for woman, who identifies herself as hetero just because she has no idea about bisexuality etc. I don’t know if you get me, it’s like you don’t treat her heterosexuality seriously because she has kissed girls before, like “yeah call yourself straigh if you want, you’re still pretty gay”. It’s just vibes I get, probably you just meant what you wrote in your comment. Let’s say I have straight friend who calls other girl pretty and I say to her “you’re so gay”. I can say as a joke and we can laugh about it or I can be like “omg you’re so gay” and tell her that she doesn’t realize that she’s bi/homo because of heteronormativy etc., trying to convince her that she is not who she tells she is (This is really stupid and kinda offensive even example but I really can’t think of anything better to illustrate my point, I hope you forgive me). And I know you meant the first, but I still think with that mention about bisexuality and wording it seems like the second. I hope this mess is at least a little undestandable and sorry for my English 🙂

  4. There was a leader of a two week workshop I was taking last summer. She was strong, confident, and sensitive to the needs of the students. I definitely had a crush on her. And she did give me some queer vibes.

    We had a lot in common and enjoyed each other’s company, so the day after the workshop ended, she and I went for a hike. She used gender neutral language when discussing past relationships. The topic of queer inclusivity came up, and I flat out asked her how she identified. And she said that while she had had previous relationships with people of all gender identities in the past:

    *She said that she felt as if she had to come out as straight to people.*

    As someone who identifies as a bisexual, I was somewhat disappointed by this answer. And then felt selfish for thinking that way. While I would love to have someone like her on the team, not just as part of my community where I could still hang out with her, but advocating from a place of shared identity, it’s ultimately *her* identity. I’m perplexed sometimes still, wondering if there’s a deeper phobia at play. But I suppose I figure that’s her path to walk. And if she identifies as straight, well, that’s ok.

  5. NGL i want everyone to be as queer as possible, but i’m also so here for nuance and complicated-ness with labels. My best friend identifies as “mostly straight” and has kinda similar feelings and previous experiences and that’s okay! Also as a gender fluid person i know that that can be a whole other bag of complicated to labeling sexuality- it made me land on “queer”, but there are an infinite number of possibilities – it’s silly that we think that we can know a famous human better than they know themselves because of the words they chose in one interview.

  6. okay but does anyone wanna talk about how fucking great Invisible Empire was? ALSO HER COVER OF BOYS OF SUMMER WAS PRETTY GAY AND I VERY MUCH ENJOY LISTENING TO IT ON REPEAT

    (u do u, kt, thank you for being hands down the best show i’ve ever been to. i will gladly crush away regardless of how u identify <3 )

  7. Should have just worn that hoodie with a rainbow print that also says “heterosexual appreciator of rainbows”.

    I think she is doing the opposite of queerbaiting by actually calling herself a heterosexual, though. So uh, kudos?

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