The pop singer, who recently announced they have a non-binary gender identity, opened up about the long journey to shaking off patriarchal expectations – and the joy of being their most authentic self.
When it comes to celebrities using their platform for social good, Demi Lovato is undoubtedly one person who has consistently been vocal in their support of the issues that matter most to them. Over the years, the pop singer has campaigned on equal marriage and transgender rights in the US, as well as candidly describing their struggles with drug and alcohol addiction, and disordered eating.
Last week, Lovato came out as non-binary and announced that they will use the pronouns they and them to describe themselves, to “best represent the fluidity I feel in my gender expression”.
Now, in a new conversation with Jane Fonda for Fire Drill Fridays, a weekly show in partnership with Greenpeace USA, the singer has opened up about how the patriarchy affected their journey to accepting their gender identity.
“If I had listened to the patriarchy, my life would have never changed,” they began. “I would have probably have been married to a man, with kids, doing the thing that I was raised to believe that I should do.
“Growing up in Dallas, Texas, in the South, being Christian, there was a lot of norms that were already pushed onto me when it came to sexuality and gender, and I’m a very fluid person; I’m a very free-spirited, open person,” they continued.
The singer recalled times in their life when they had realised that their gender identity and sexuality didn’t align with the social norms they’d grown up with. Eventually, that prompted an awareness of the pervasiveness of the patriarchy.
“After years of living my life for other people, trying to make myself smaller for the patriarchy – they run the industry, they are at the centre of everything,” Lovato began.
“When I realised that, I thought, ‘what are the ways that the patriarchy has been holding me back?’ And for me, it was putting me in a box telling me, ‘you are a female, this is what you’re supposed to like, this is what you’re supposed to do, don’t dream bigger and don’t speak louder.’”
According to Lovato, it was after a near-death experience with a drug overdose in 2018 that brought the realisation that they “had to wake up and start living my life for me,” regardless of patriarchal expectations. That new reality was one which was “equal parts masculine and feminine.”
“I have become the most complete and authentic version of myself that I’ve ever been in my life,” they added. “And I’ve never been happier.”
Lovato also reiterated their intention to use their platform to keep pushing for progress and make “the maximum amount of change that I possibly can during my time here on earth.”
“My purpose isn’t to bask in the glory of myself, it’s to use what I’ve created for myself as a platform to launch way more important messages than just what maybe a couple of pop songs have to say.”