Jake Shears Talks Social Media, Gender Identity And Mother Pride Block Party

Jake Shears talks his progress, social media, gender identity and mother pride block party 2016

GCN Editor Brian Finnegan caught up with Jake Shears before his visit to Dublin to play at the Mother Pride Block Party


When Scissor Sisters took a hiatus back in 2012, fans hoped they’d be back together in no time, but although rumours of a new tour persist, no dates have been forthcoming.

In the intervening time, leading man Jake Shears has leveraged the queer cultural platform he gained while with the band into a number of high-profile projects that stretched his creative boundaries, from acting on stage in a version of Martin Sherman’s gay holocaust play, Bent, and Moisés Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde to co-writing a musical based on Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City novel, to working with his former mentor, Dan Savage on the It Get’s Better anti-LGBT bullying project.
More recently he recorded the single, ‘The Other Boys’ with Nervo, also featuring Kylie and Nile Rogers, and he’s working on another original musical with Elton John. He’s also translated his eclectic love of music into performing hugely popular DJ sets across the world, the latest of which will be at the Mother Pride Block Party in Dublin on June 25.

Figuring that questions about why Scissors Sisters went on a break, and when they are getting back together, might be the order of the day with every interview Jake Shears ever does, I decided not to mention the band at all.

Instead I wanted to quiz him about the current state of queer culture – given that he’s consistently immersed himself in all angles of queer culture since the Sisters began resting.

Having just finished a load of laundry at his New Orleans apartment, he was hardly prepared for my onslaught of questions, but after some hesitation, he rose to the mark. We began with queer subculture, and whether it even exists in a western mainstream that’s rapidly moving towards the assimilation of LGBT people.

For the full interview where Jake broaches internalised homophobia, HIV, the gay voices of today, marriage equality and more, pick up a copy of GCN at your local supplier, or read it on iOS or online.


Do you think body dysmorphia is on the rise with gay men?


God, where do I start? I’m writing a lot about this now, and it’s a Pandora’s Box that I’ve opened. It’s inescapable to a degree. It’s something a lot of guys suffer from, including myself. I don’t spend a lot of time on social media, because it brings me down a lot of the time. If I’m on there for 15 minutes, I come off and something doesn’t feel right in my belly area. Instagram is really fun, and I love posting a sexy pic once in a while, but sometimes it’s hard being on there. I follow all these accounts that are just pictures of sexy guys and sometimes I’ll look at it and I’ll be just like I feel old and decrepit. Going through this endless stream of perfection, I don’t think it’s good for my head.


Do you think the ‘endless stream of perfection’ may be to do with internalised homophobia?


I think there’s a larger story here, one that goes back through gay history to Aids and the gay male body. There was a reaction a long time ago, this inscecurity that gays felt about their bodies. The gay body at one time, in the 80s, was a frail body, it was a sick and dying body, and it’s a trajectory from that.


How would you define your own gender and sexual identity?


Good lord, what a question! I identify as a gay man, and a queer man too. It’s funny how as I get older, though, that I feel my sexuality has changed a little bit. My relationships have changed as time has gone on. To me, being close with somebody, or intimacy with somebody is more important than being sexual. I thrive off of intimacy. There’s this girl I’ve met in New Orleans who I just have the best time with. I’m kind of in love with her a little bit. I think she’s just gorgeous, I love talking with her, I love looking at her, I love snuggling with her. I don’t know what that means, but I’m cool with it, although I identify as a gay man. That’s what I am and what I’m always gonna be.


Do you worry about being honest like that, in a world where social media picks up on everything?


It’s scary to say what you really think. Just last week I watched these artists do something and the whole world ripped them to shreds. It really disturbed me. It’s hard talking about this kind of stuff. I just think of how much the world has changed in the last 12 years, and how much easier it used to be to have an opinion without fear of reprisal. The bandwagon mentality is really intense. Especially in the last couple of years it seems to have really snowballed. I just hope it’s something people can be more conscious of in their lives, of what they put out there in the world, and what can happen. I think the world needs to check itself.


How about your own use of social media?


I really try to temper it and keep off my phone as much as possible. I’m a total New York Times junky on my phone, and the phone can be a great tool, but it can really kill your daydreams, and for me my daydreams are my bread and butter. That’s where I get lyrics for songs and whatever; sometimes it comes when I’m just drifting off into space. It’s important to have an uninterrupted ten minutes to just think or walk down the street. That’s what I try to do, how I try to live my life. I’m not always successful at it, but I do my best. I try to think the phone will still be there when I come back to it in an hour.


What are you working on now?


I’ve been working really hard and I’m super happy. I learned a long time ago that it’s important sometimes with creativity and making stuff to be patient with yourself. You’ve got to have the discipline to be making things. Sometimes it takes a while to have something to say. That’s what I’ve been living by, and that’s all starting to change now. There’s going to be a whole big, giant snowball of stuff someday soon. I’m definitely going to be dropping a lot of new stuff when I get to Dublin.


What can we expect from your DJ set at Mother Pride?


I love to DJ. I’ve never really taken it very seriously, other than the fact that I just love playing music until the wee hours of the morning. I love coming home from clubs and DJ’ing all night for my friends, so that’s how I feel when I DJ at clubs. It may be a bit all over the place, and I don’t play a lot of pop music, but it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Jake Shears headlines the Mother Pride Block Party on June 25, at The Tivoli from 5pm, tickets available here.

© 2016 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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