Over the last few years, Kelly Osbourne has established herself as a queer ally. She’s taken to the streets against California’s Proposition 8; she’s on the front lines of Cyndi Lauper’s Give a Damn Campaign; and last year, she and her mom, Sharon, served as grand marshals of the 40th annual LA Pride parade. “My God loves gays!” Kelly hollered when slur-hurling homophobes began protesting the procession.
Her recent trek through transphobia, then, has been particularly disconcerting.
The denigrating remarks were delivered when – during a recent interview with Glamour UK – Kelly was asked about her highly publicized split from model Luke Worrall.
Let’s back up for a minute.
Kelly, 27, began dating Worrall, 21, in May 2008. The two got engaged in March 2009. In July 2010, however, amid rampant rumours of Worrall’s infidelity, Kelly ditched him, and a wild bout of mudslinging via Facebook and Twitter ensued. Within a few months, reconciliation was on the table. But in late December 2010, Kelly discovered incriminating online messages between Worrall and trans model Elle Schneider. Kelly contacted Schneider immediately; they determined that Worrall was scheming them both – moreover, that Worrall was bedding oodles of additional women (men, too) – and joined forces.
Schneider told Out magazine in February 2011, “When we realized that Luke had been two-timing us, we began bonding. I would help her out whenever she’d call me and cry or need someone to speak to, because I was the only person that she could relate to. After I ended everything with Luke, she was there for me and helped me get through it.”
Fast-forward to the Glamour UK interview: “Having to tell [my parents] my fiancée had cheated on me with a tranny who sold his/her story to the press [was the most uncomfortable moment],” said Kelly. “It was so humiliating. Everyone kept telling me that Luke was cheating on me, but I never believed them. It’s hard enough to get your head around someone cheating on you, but when someone is a chick with a dick? Up until then, I’d always thought that the worst way to get cheated on would be with an ugly girl. Don’t you think? Because at least if they cheat on you with a gorgeous girl it makes some kind of sense. But men are different, I guess; they can have emotionless sex.”
Marti Abernathey of transadvocate.com quickly took Kelly to task: “While I think it’s horrible that Osbourne was cheated on, her hate-filled rant that used some of the most objectifying and dehumanizing words is even worse. She’s implying that the trans woman in question has no value, other than sex . . . Kelly, did you ever stop to think that maybe he cheated on you because of your bigoted and intolerant attitudes? Just a thought. Hate is a pretty ugly thing to be around.”
Abernathey then took to Twitter to seek out Kelly, who responded, “dont u dare accuse me of being against anything 2 do w/ the LGBT community i have never given anything but 100% of my support.” A Twitter war ensued, with Abernathey demanding answers, Kelly attempting explanation and queers all over the Twitterverse alternately slamming and supporting both parties.
Kelly apologized several times. “i really am sorry i am so close to the lbgt community in every aspect of my life that i forget i am not a member myself! … i again can only apologize my intention was never ever to hurt anyone i again thank for educating me!” She also stated that the Glamour quote “was not verbatim of what I said it was really taken out of context.”
Of course the quote is likely not verbatim, and of course whatever it was Kelly actually said was likely twisted and recontextualized – after all, celebrity media tends to angle toward scandal and spectacle. Not to mention, this quote was leaked, with no indication of when the story and the entire interview is scheduled to run. To that end, it seems the sole purpose of the leak was to start a fire.
Kelly, however, is a public figure with a public voice in a culture that thrives on transphobia and homophobia. As such, simply claiming “misquote” isn’t enough. Indeed, in the absence of solid clarification and redress, Kelly’s so-called misquote stands on its own as gross bigotry that will serve only to validate the gross bigotry of bigots.
And if the reason Kelly hasn’t yet offered solid clarification and redress is because she did, in fact, speak in transphobic terms out of ignorance, this would be an ideal moment for her to acknowledge accountability and publicly educate herself and others.
Either way, the conversation isn’t done yet. Three days after the Twitter war, Kelly tweeted next steps: “just want to let everyone know that i am talking with the people @glaad i will do anything i can to rectify this awful situation!”