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There’s something about a child star who truly and utterly breaks the mold. Maybe it’s the constant reinvention, maybe its the inherent camp sensibility. Whatever the reason, following Tinashe—the singer, rapper and actress who’s been quietly churning out flawless albums since 2014’s “Aquarius,”—is a positive joyride. And we felt that way even before she officially came out as bisexual in 2020.
“It’s not like all bisexual people like men and women equally – or like all bisexual people are a certain type of person,” Tinashe told GAY TIMES in 2020. “Human beings are so versatile. I don’t understand why we’re so obsessed with categorizing each other.”
It’s hardly easy to categorize Tinashe. She’s been making music since the age of 14, first with the bad “The Stunners” and then as a solo act. In between, she found time to make four genre-shaking mixtapes, take on a recurring role in “Two and a Half Men,” and a lead role in Cartoon Network’s “Out of Jimmy’s Head.” She’s appeared on tracks with Chance the Rapper and Britney Spears, all while managing to put five full-length albums under her belt. And she’s not even 30 yet.
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But good as the music is, it’s Tinashe’s fierce attitude and no-bullsh*t that keeps earning her a permanent spot in our hearts. A casual glimpse at her videos for “Rascal (Superstar)”, “2 On,” and last year’s transcendent hit “Bouncin'” will have you wondering why on earth this woman isn’t more famous than she is. In Rascal, Tinashe appears in a blonde pixie cut with defiant hot pink eyeliner drawn across both lash lines. She struts around in a Malibu Barbie pink-and-teal landscape camping it up for the camera and calling to mind Beyoncé’s “Sasha Fierce” persona. In “Bouncin'”, she manages to work mini trampolines into her choreography, topping and grinding on a series of impossibly hot male dancers to get her point across.
Her future-forward aesthetic in the video–which heavily features a VR-enabled sex fantasy–is part of what makes Tinashe so irresistible. In a sense, the singer-songwriter has always been ahead of her time: in 2012, after Frank Ocean came out as bisexual, Tinashe posted a since-deleted Tumblr post in which she came out as bisexual while acknowledging the double standard that sees bi women as sexy and bi men as liars. Though she never denied her queerness, she put it front and center in her 2020 GAY TIMES cover, explaining that she finally feels comfortable using the term bisexual to describe her sexuality.
“There are so many f*cking stereotypes about being bisexual that made me want to shy away from talking about it,” she said. “I’m much more open to having those discussions now.”
The world has also caught up with her: today, being bisexual isn’t seen as a publicity stunt or an attention-seeking gesture, even if there’s still a fair amount of stigma and erasure attached. Admitting in 2012 that your first love was a girl when you’re right on the cusp of blowing took a lot of guts, and guts are what Tinashe continues to show any time the world gets a little too obnoxious for her taste.
Case in point: this March, when TERF-extraordinare and “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to bemoan the use of gender-inclusive language in the UK. Tinashe, who has been vocal about her support of trans folks for years, shut Rowling down succinctly, writing: “Oh my god, SHUT UP.”
Oh my god, SHUT UP
— TINASHE ³³³ (@Tinashe) March 8, 2022
Tinashe didn’t need to clap back at Rowling, just like she didn’t need to make the album of the summer with 2021’s 333. It’s just what she does: she makes the world better simply by existing in it.
Transgender people are beautiful and important. They deserve respect and love, just like the rest of us. #TransRightsAreHumanRights
— TINASHE ³³³ (@Tinashe) July 27, 2017
The whole point, according to the first track of “333,” is that Tinashe can see the future. She’s always had this ability. That’s because Tinashe is the future. And from where we’re standing, the future is looking bright.