“I’ve been very vocal about lots of things and I don’t regret anything I’ve stood up for because it’s all how I feel,” says Paloma Faith, who has never shied away from speaking out about the things that matter most to her. She has consistently been a fierce advocate for all aspects of the LGBTQIA+ community, having frequently spoken out in favour of equality and vocally supporting transgender people’s rights. “We have to keep saying it, I think that for me it’s important not to waste my platform,” she tells GAY TIMES. “I do feel a responsibility having a voice to speak on issues that I care about.”
Since the release of her debut album, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful?, in 2009, Faith has become known for an array of signature hits, her iconic style and – perhaps most importantly – her camp aesthetic. She describes herself as walking “the fine line between Liza Minnelli and just a regular Camden goth,” citing the likes of gay icons Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Marlene Dietrich and May West as sources of inspiration. “I’ve never really been into modern pop icons unless they’re really camp,” Faith laughs. “The greatest show I just saw was Madonna. I was with every single gay man in London just crying at the front.”
Faith has always felt an affinity with the LGBTQIA+ community, which is no surprise given the role many of those within it have played in her life. “I’m not just defending a community of people I don’t know,” she states, explaining that she surrounds herself with queer people and has always “gravitated” towards LGBTQIA+ culture. Faith recalls a friend she had in school who changed their name, which she found “really easy” to adapt to. “If someone wants to change something about themselves, then you have to respect it,” she says, adding: “Live and let live and be exactly who you want to be and who you are.”
Many of the “big major social conversations” around things such as identity don’t frighten Faith, which she attributes to her liberal upbringing. “I had a conversation with my mum when I was 13 where she was like, ‘I just want you to know now you’re a teenager, I absolutely don’t mind whether you’re gay or straight, I just want you to know that and we’ll have that conversation now,’” she remembers. “Same as she said, ‘If you got pregnant’ – when I was 14 she said this – ‘Please don’t hide it from me, if you want to keep it, we’ll do it together, and if you want help not keeping it, we’ll do that together.’”
Now a mother of two herself, Faith has faced an array of backlash from right-wing media outlets after stating that she does not encourage “gender rigidity” with her children. “It’s just that society is so backward that it feels like a big statement, but it shouldn’t be,” she says, noting that she was raised in the same way during the 1980s. “I don’t even think that gender will be a thing by the time my kids grow up.”
“I think that when you have children, they are born with an identity and you influence that identity through the way that you nurture those kids, but they don’t become what you want them to become, whatever you do,” Faith continues. “You as a parent should never be under any kind of illusion that you can do anything [other] than facilitate them to become themselves. You can’t force anyone to become anything and all you can do is support and love and nurture who they actually are. True love is loving the person they are, not the person you want them to be.”
Earlier this year, Faith went viral on Twitter after calling Rishi Sunak a “c**t” in response to him tweeting that those coming to the UK “illegally” will not be able to claim asylum or benefit from modern slavery protections here. Reflecting on what was going through her mind at the time, she says: “That just summarised my whole thought about it all. Basically, I am 100 per cent sure at this point that I’m calling you a c**t, that you are never going to say anything redemptive ever again because the way they’ve spoken about trans rights, the way they’ve spoken about refugees, that whole situation is just like, you’re not a good person. You’re a c**t and nothing you can say will ever change that.”
This defiant attitude is present in Faith’s latest album, The Glorification of Sadness, which is slated for a February 2024 release. Coloured by chaos, charisma and confidence, the record symbolises everything fans of the star have come to know and love over the years in what feels like both a continuation and departure from her previous work. The first two singles, ‘How You Leave a Man’ and ‘Bad Woman’, show both Faith’s conviction and vulnerability. She tells GAY TIMES that the album is “chronological” and represents the “stages of grief” when a relationship ends.
Faith cites a quote she was recently sent by her mother that encapsulates what appears to define The Glorification of Sadness: “Everyone talks about cutting people off, but no one talks about the grief that comes with having to stand firm on that decision, knowing that it’s not what you wanted, but what was necessary for your well-being.” Despite how insightful these words of wisdom are, she admits that she “desperately” wishes she could always adhere to them.
“But at the end of the day, it’s much more complex, isn’t it?” she states. “I can say, ‘I’ll cut them off and block them on all platforms,’ but everyone says that to you as well, like, ‘You need to do this, you need to empower yourself’ and then you’re like, ‘Yeah, but where the hell are you at 10pm when my kids have been asleep for two hours, I’ve done all the chores I need to do, I’ve done a bit of editing on my book and now I’m about to tuck myself in bed with Netflix and am reminded of my loneliness?’”
Aside from the inescapable relatability of the loneliness and liberation at the core of The Glorification of Sadness, LGBTQIA+ fans can also look forward to what Faith calls “the gayest anthem” she’s ever recorded. The soon-to-be-released bop ‘Cry on the Dancefloor’ is a representation of “that grieving moment when you decide I’ve moped in doors too long, I’m going out and I might go out on my own or I might end up on my own on the club dancefloor just crying with the lights on me and no one can see I’m crying and that’s what it’s about.” Faith says it’s reminiscent of similar situations she’s found herself in at gay clubs, where it’s “more acceptable to just be on your own dancing and enjoying the music.”
As Faith’s artistry continues to evolve, longtime fans can be sure of one thing: she has no intention of changing her fearless approach to fighting for the causes she cares most about. “Quite frankly, if my career ends because of those views, good riddance,” she says. “That’s how I feel because I’d rather be on the right side of my moral code than feel like I faked something or pretend to feel allegiance with something that I don’t agree with.”
The Glorification of Sadness is out on 16 February and can be pre-saved below or by clicking here.