Australian singer Missy Higgins has opened up about the relentless speculation about her sexuality she faced in the early years of her career in the latest episode of Anh’s Brush With Fame.
In Tuesday night’s episode, Higgins reflected on the huge success of her nine-times platinum debut album, 2004’s Sound of White, which made her a household name in this country when she was just 21.
With that success came rumours that Higgins was gay – speculation she didn’t address until an October 2007 interview with lesbian publication Cherrie, agreeing with an interviewer who asked if she was “not-so-straight”. A month later, she identified as bisexual via her MySpace page.
But before that, Higgins faced several years in the public eye trying to politely bat away questions about her sexuality, an issue she says she was still trying to figure out for herself.
“Everyone was speculating about my sexuality, which was such a personal thing, and such a thing I was grappling with,” she told Brush With Fame host Anh Do.
“All the journalists were trying to get an answer from me, they all wanted me to say I was gay and to come out loud and proud … but I was still figuring it out myself, and I felt SO much pressure to put myself in a box and put a label on it.”
She says the rumours made her “shut down” – in interviews, and also in her music.
“Every time I did an interview, I was in shutdown mode, because they were probing, trying to get me to slip up. Trying to get me to say a pronoun, you know? I’d be like, ‘How do I describe what this song’s about without saying ‘she’?’
“It was so traumatic, in a way. That became my persona: Shutting down in that way meant I wasn’t going to be able to express myself because that would make me way too vulnerable.
“The world had me at that point, and they were abusing it. They were abusing that right, and I wanted to take it back.”
Coming out as bisexual in 2007 quietened the speculation. Higgins, 37, began a relationship with comedian Dan Higgins in 2013. The pair wed in 2016 and have two children together.
She told Do that discussing her sexuality now was “really easy for me, because I don’t have anything to hide”.
Anh’s Brush With Fame airs 8pm Tuesdays on the ABC.
Originally published as Rumour that dogged Aussie star for years