I had the opportunity to interview the lovely Frenchie Davis for my next installment of my “Stories of Sexuality and Gender” series.
Frenchie first came in to the mainstream when she appeared on American Idol?in 2003. Shockingly, she was disqualified from that season due to topless photos of her. While many were upset and disagreed with this, Frenchie did not let this stop her. Ms. Davis also had a successful run on Broadway appearing in?Rent?and others. But she returned to the mainstream in the 2011 season of?the Voice?where she was on Christina Aguilera’s team and finished in?fifth out of all of the contestants.
Frenchie is openly bisexual and so I had a lot to discuss with her as far as being LGBT, a woman of color, and in the entertainment industry.
Me: Hey?Frenchie. Thanks so much for speaking with me. First, I would like to know where you are from? Born and raised?
Frenchie: I was born in Washington DC when my parents were college students there. I was raised in Los Angeles, though, preschool to high school.
Me: When did you first start singing? When do you realize that this is something you wanted to pursue?
Frenchie: I have been singing for about as long as I can remember. Singing is something that I have always loved doing but I didn’t ?think about doing it professionally until college.
Me: Now let’s talk about sexuality. When did you first realize that you could be “different” (as they say)?
Frenchie: I’ve known for as long as I can remember.
Me: When did you come out to your loved ones and how did they take it?
Frenchie: I came out to my ?family and friends when I was 16 years old. They were very supportive but when I started pursuing my singing career, they had concerns about how the media would treat me if I came out publicly, especially after all of the Idol BS.
Me: You were famously on American Idol, Season 2. Did people on that show know about your sexuality at that time?
Frenchie: I don’t know if they did or didn’t; it’s not like I walk up to people and say “Hi! I’m Frenchie and I’m bisexual….your orientation is?…..” ?I mean, in a perfect world, my sexuality would really be nobody else’s damned business?unless I were sleeping with them. But until we get to a place where interview questions such as these are no longer necessary, I guess I will continue to try to understand the need for answering them.
Me: You were notoriously kicked off Idol for nude photos which many people thought was unfair. Do you hold anything against Idol nowadays? While this was happening, what message did you think it sent to women and their ability to be sexual beings?
Frenchie: Well, I believe that my disqualification sent a very specific message to black women regarding their ability to be sexual beings. I mean, there were white contestants who were nude and engaging in sexual acts with others in photos but they were allowed to compete on the show. While only 20% of American Idol’s contestants have been Black, 99% of their publicly disqualified contestants have been Black. Numbers don’t lie and for that, I will probably always give a slight side-eye where Idol is concerned.
Me: You have also appeared on The Voice. You made it very far so Congrats. You were on Team Christina. Did Ms. Aguilera or anyone on the show know about your sexuality? Was it ever discussed?
Frenchie: I think the more important questions are, Why would that matter? and why would it even be any of her business?
Me: You have appeared on Broadway, mainly performing in the very popular play Rent. I imagine this was a very rewarding experience. How were people in regards to sexuality? Was everyone just over-flowing with love and support and acceptance?
Frenchie: The characters in RENT included 2 gay couples. Furthermore, in a Broadway show, we are far more concerned with whether or not our castmates can sing/act/dance well enough to play their assigned role than we are with who they go home to when the curtain closes.
Me: You are not just bisexual, but a woman of color. Can you talk about the intersectionality between your different identities? How do you think being a woman of color has affected how people view your sexuality?
Frenchie: Being an openly bisexual woman of color, I can’t afford to give much thought to how others view me so I don’t know how to answer this question.
Me: You have been involved in the #BlackLivesMatter movement, having your voice heard in various ways. Why is this important to you?
Frenchie: This movement is important to me for a number of reasons. Mainly, because I believe that we collectively share a responsibility to advocate for the fair and equal treatment of all human beings and I think that if we are going to become a “colorless” society, that journey begins with open and honest dialogue about the existence of institutionalized racism and white privilege.
Me: You have been critical of the mainstream LGBT movement and “white gays” for staying silent on issues of race. Could you explain this a little more and provide examples of your frustration. I have heard other minority LGBT people say that the LGBT movement is still too white-washed. Do you agree?
Frenchie: I think in many ways, it has been. I don’t think the LGBT community can afford to continue to be silent on ALL civil rights issues that are not associated with marriage equality. If we are coining our movement as a civil rights movement, we need to be advocates for all civil rights and fight for the equal treatment of ALL of us. LGBT leaders have plenty to say about race when they use the Loving vs Virginia case-the landmark Supreme Court case responsible for invalidating laws prohibiting interracial marriage- as an argument for marriage equality. Then, they are deafeningly silent when a Trayvon Martin happens. That is unacceptable.
Me: Are there any very negative experiences you have had because of your sexuality? Do you think your race and/or gender has played a part?
Frenchie: Of course there have been negative experiences, but my positive experiences on this journey called life, far outweigh the negative ones and I choose to focus on that.
Me: Explain your sexuality a bit. People think of bisexuality, and it can conjure different things for different people. For example, some think that a bisexual person likes males and females equally. What are your views on this?
Frenchie: My view is that I don’t owe anyone (gay or straight) any explanation. I am bisexual. Pretty straightforward in my eyes so if anyone is unclear on what that means they should go read a book on human sexuality and start with the Kinsey Scale. I shan’t be the tour guide through the intricacies of human sexuality for those who are willfully ignorant, and I happen to think that this notion of having to explain one’s sexuality to anyone contributes to homophobic attitudes among straight people, as well as bi-phobic attitudes within the LGBT community.
Me:In 2014 you performed at the GLAAD Gala Event in Atlanta, GA. Why do you feel it is important to support organizations like GLAAD? And how do you think the media portrays sexual fluidity, especially with women?
Frenchie: I feel it is often trivialized, as if women’s sexuality is something that can change easily like switching the light on or off.
Me: Let us know the details?Frenchie! Are you single, dating, etc? Do you find it difficult dating as an openly bisexual woman? I know a lot of people who say that they don’t date bisexuals at all. What are your experiences with this?
Frenchie: I am happily single and going on dates.
Me: I know you have had hot dance singles and other musical successes, so tell us about more of your future music plans.
Frenchie: The dance single was released about 2 years ago and I am actually at the tail end of putting the finishing touches on the full album, which will be a “double cd”, comprised of a dance/pop cd to follow up “Love’s Got A Hold On Me”, as well as an R&B/Soul cd. I am really really proud of the way the music has come together and I cannot wait to share this album with the world.
I thank Frenchie for her very honest responses to my questions and ?I hope this sheds light on intersectionality.