Beth Ditto Interview: Diamonds Are Forever

Gossip front woman Beth Ditto capped off an amazing year with her very revealing memoir, Coal to Diamonds.



Ditto, with her fiancée, Kristin Ogata, at the Cannes Film Festival in May, 2012.

The singer immediately found love with longtime friend Kristin Ogata. The two are happily planning next year’s wedding.

“We just always kind of knew that we were always in love. It’s blissful, I think. It’s really sweet and perfect. I feel like it’s like so simple that it’s a miracle. I feel like Dan and Roseanne.”

Though her last partner was a trans man and her fiancée is a lesbian, Ditto says she’s never had to shift thinking about her own identity but, with Fagula, “I learned a lot about myself in a way — not really about my sexuality but in the way I picture gender and the world. I think that dating and meeting Freddy and meeting trans people, more than anything I think that was more pivotal for me because I never understood why I wasn’t attracted to girls that dressed like I did. For a long time I thought in order to be gay, I had to have really short hair.”

Ditto slowly began unraveling her femmeness after hiding it in a lesbian feminist subculture where boyishness, if not boys, ruled. The pressure to be masculine, to eschew girly things, now “feels like another form of misogyny — don’t be a ‘girl’ — but back then it felt like the right way to rebel against the mainstream,” she writes.

Coming out as a femme was one of life’s biggest revelations for Ditto. “I was like OK, now I understand. I feel like I’m the butchest femme, though, with lots of male energy. I don’t think about how I’m holding myself in a dress, always spread-eagle. But I think after I knew I was a femme, it was like anything goes with who I’m attracted to.”

While Olympia and Portland (where Ditto and her mates moved a few years ago) can be havens of radicalism, being fat, queer, and feminist can be tough on the world stage. The pressure to be thin affects every female performer today, but the Gossip front woman thinks that perhaps she’s better prepared for the criticism, and she feels sorry for women who were once thin and then gain weight.

“I feel sorry…for people who’ve had skinny privilege and then have it taken away from them,” she writes in her book. “I have had a lifetime to adjust to seeing how people treat women who aren’t their idea of beautiful and therefore aren’t their idea of useful, and I had to find ways to become useful to myself.”
And part of being useful is welcoming critics, fans, and journalists to talk about her body as much as her music.

“I think it’s great. I feel like it’s just like taking one for the team. I think it’s really cool that there are people like Adele on the cover of Vogue and Rolling Stone, and like I think it’s really important that people are talking about your body, because if they don’t, then you’ll never be able to break that barrier.” She says because of her and Adele, when a 200-pound girl wants to be a singer in a band “it’s going to be a lot fucking easier.”

“I know [some musicians] are like, ‘Oh, it’s all about the music.’ But I come from riot grrrl, where it’s not just about the music, it’s about the political message, and that’s just as important as the music to me. I don’t mind being a guinea pig.”