Matty Healy Says the 1975 Will Only Play Gender-Balanced Festivals from Now On

"Reading and Leeds with more women would be honestly the best festival in the world."

The 2020 lineup for the Reading and Leeds Festival was announced this week.

Although a headline slot from the recently reunited Rage Against the Machine has been causing a positive buzz, many people were quick to point out the glaring gender imbalance. Of the 91 acts slated to perform at the major English festival, only 20 of them are women.

Guardian deputy music editor Laura Snapes shared her thoughts on the matter, tweeting "By this stage we can conclusively assume that [managing director of Reading and Leeds promotion company] Melvin Benn doesn't give a s--t about representation."

The 1975 frontman Matty Healy chimed in to say, although he thought RATM is a "dope booking," he agreed with Snapes' comment. Snapes then responded: "add a condition to your rider that says you'll only play festivals that commit to X% (ideally 50%!) acts that include women and non binary performers."

Healy swiftly obliged. "Take this as me signing this contract," he responded. "I have agreed to some festivals already that may not adhere to this and I would never let fans down who already have tickets. But from now I will and believe this is how male artist[s] can be true allies."

The 1975, one of the world's most beloved active rock bands right now, committing to only playing gender-balanced festivals is a major step towards equality in the music industry. They've been staples in festival lineups since their beginning, even headlining Reading and Leeds last year. They're a highly-coveted booking, and, hopefully, their commitment to stick with festivals that equally represent artists who aren’t male will motivate more festivals to think critically about the representation in their lineups and encourage other artists to instill similar ultimatums.

Though some think gender-balanced festival lineups are unrealistic, it's been proven possible. Primavera in Barcelona reached their target of 50 percent women and non-binary performers last year and have hit that target again for their 2020 lineup. Other UK festivals have committed to the increasingly-popular Keychange initiative, in which festival organizers pledge to reach a gender-balanced lineup by 2022.

Healy said it best: "Reading and Leeds with more women would be honestly the best festival in the world."

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Is Jameela Jamil Queerbaiting (Even Though She's Queer)?

The Good Place actress received backlash for accepting a judge role on HBO's new voguing competition show. Then, she came out.

This week, The Good Place star and self-proclaimed "feminist-in-progress" Jameela Jamil received a great deal of backlash for being cast as a guest judge on Legendary, a new voguing competition show to be aired on HBO Max.

Voguing is a style of dance that rose in popularity from the Harlem ballroom/drag culture between the '60s and '80s, and it's since become a crucial aspect of black and Latinx LGBTQ+ culture and history. Some participants of ballroom culture also belong to "houses"—or shared residences with friends who become more like chosen family members—as many of them have been alienated from their biological families. All of this is to say that voguing, as popularized by the Madonna hit song and documentaries like Paris is Burning, is much more nuanced than just a bunch of fun dance moves.

It's great that many of the hosts and judges of Legendary, like Jamil, are people of color, but critics were quick to point out that Jamil was presumably straight, thus unfit to serve as a judge. She countered these arguments by coming out as queer.

"Twitter is brutal. This is why I never officially came out as queer," Jamil wrote. "I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid...It's also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you're already a brown female in your thirties."

Nobody, Jamil included, should ever be forced to come out–but accepting the role as a judge on Legendary without having publicized her queerness seems hypocritical. Last year, Jamil turned down a role to play a deaf character because, although she was born partially deaf, she has since regained her hearing. "It wouldn't be appropriate for me to take that role and they should find a brilliant deaf woman to play that role," Jamil explained. "I think you have to make those choices and not be too greedy and make space rather than take space...I don't want to be part of erasure."

Ballroom is an incredibly particular subculture of the LGBTQ+ community, and as Jamil even admitted in her statement, her being queer doesn't automatically qualify her for a judging position, because she's not a member of that specific community. Still, she took the job, despite being completely new to the ballroom scene; is that not erasure?

Hustlers star Trace Lysette, a trans woman who used to work as a dancer, shared her feelings about Jamil's casting on Twitter. "Lol.. I interviewed for this gig," Lysette wrote. "As the mother of a house for nearly a decade it's kind of mind blowing when ppl with no connection to our culture gets the gig. [sic] This is not shade towards Jameela, I love all that she stands for. If anything I question the decision makers."

In Jamil's defense, she's made respectful endeavors in promoting inclusivity and gender equality; her secondary Instagram account, @i_weigh, celebrates body positivity, and she spent much of her time in the public eye as a persistent LGBTQ+ ally before coming out herself. But as many users have observed, the timing and circumstances of her coming out feel, unfortunately, like queerbaiting.

Are queer people in hetero-presenting relationships, like Jamil, valid? Absolutely. Is it fair to gatekeep within the queer community, questioning whether or not somebody is "gay enough?" Absolutely not. But for Jamil, in her relentless pursuit of divine wokeness, to denounce erasure of marginalized voices only to end up doing just that? It's incredibly disappointing.